Analyzing the newfound appreciation for Indian remedies

From ghee to oiling your hair, people are starting to pay attention to age-old Indian traditions 

Viral trends have their roots in South Asian culture.
As a brown girl, it feels like 2022 is my time to shine. 
Thick, brushed up eyebrows and natural curls are in. TikTok influencers have started oiling their hair with Olaplex, which is essentially a dupe for the much less expensive Amla oil that my mother would massage into my scalp once a month. 
Olaplex has a leg up on the strong smell of Amla with its sleek packaging and neutral scent, but I find it almost comical to see models walking around with slicked back buns when brown girls were teased for their oiled braids in school. 
‘Jalebi Baby’ came on at a club in Calgary and I listened to the crowd sing, “You got what I wanted soniye” with perfect cadence. 
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how important it is to take care of our physical wellbeing, and I’ve seen blog posts promoting natural remedies everywhere. These remedies often include ginger, lemon, cardamom, cloves, and even ghee. 
I remember the feelings of pride and ‘I-told-you-so’ energy radiating off aunties when reposting articles on the health benefits of clarified butter on Facebook. 
This newfound appreciation for Indian rituals is reminiscent of the golden milk craze which reached its peak a few years ago. I remember being simultaneously appalled and impressed that boujee Toronto cafes could charge $5.50 for the concoction I’d been drinking every flu season since I was a child. 
However, the integration of Indian traditions and culture into mainstream society has inevitably got me thinking about how much of our cultures can be appreciated and respected—and why it takes the white majority discovering Indian home remedies and yoga for us to perceive cultural practices as valid. 
Though I’m not Hindu, I find it interesting to analyze how rhetoric about energy and chakras has infiltrated my social media platforms. I wonder if the young people posting about karmic energy have done their research into the ancient Hindu roots of these concepts. 
I feel like my inner child is beaming at the appreciation for typical Indian features, but my adult self is critically thinking about which trends will be next, and whether or not a brown person will be the one to spearhead its integration in mainstream culture. 
This is a moment where brown girls and Indian practices are finally getting some of the recognition they deserve. It’s problematic that this recognition is whitewashed and Westernized, but it also makes me hopeful that nuanced representation is a possibility in the future. 
For the people showing interest in Indian culture, I hope research and conversations center around the South Asian people who spearheaded and developed these practices, rather than on the distilled version of many practices we’re seeing on social media. 
At the end of the day, Indian culture can never be reduced to a TikTok trend. South Asia is a diverse amalgamation of history, culture, and rich spirituality—and we should be aware of attempts to commodify practices as we attempt to appreciate them.  

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