Did Nature mock Desi culture? Members spotted in Indian wedding makeup for 'Rica Rica'

Nature members are being called out for wearing Bengali wedding makeup as well as bindis as they mimick traditional Indian dance moves in ‘Rica Rica’

                            Did Nature mock Desi culture? Members spotted in Indian wedding makeup for 'Rica Rica'
Desi fans accuse the girl group Nature of cultural appropriation after members wear the Bengali wedding make up for 'Rica Rica' (Stone Music Entertainment/YouTube)

With society advancing with time, more people are learning about unique cultures from across the world. With this knowledge also comes the idea of cultural appropriation — be it Hollywood celebrities from non-African backgrounds using dreadlocks from Black culture to make a style statement, or celebrities dressing in Indigenous outfits at events like Coachella to look fashionable.

While a lot of stereotypes surround Korean culture itself, K-pop and Korean celebrities are not completely innocent when it comes to cultural appropriation. Over the past few years, many K-pop artists have been called out for their appropriation of Black, Brown as well as Indigenous cultures. But it seems like many K-pop labels push out new concepts without factoring in how they might offend foreign cultures.


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Nature ‘Rica Rica’ appropriates Desi culture

The girl group Nature announced their comeback with ‘Rica Rica’, their single album that will drop after the group went on an 18 month-long hiatus. Days after announcing their comeback, Nature dropped the first official teaser of their upcoming single, ‘Rica Rica.’ But they faced a lot of backlash from Indian fans of the group as well as Indian fans of K-pop in general.

The teaser for ‘Rica Rica’ showed the members of Nature wearing bindis, an item of accessory which is mostly worn by Indian married women, which in Desi culture, is often seen as a mark of marriage. Not only that but the Nature girls also were seen wearing the traditional Bengali eye makeup.

This side-by-side comparison shows how a member of Nature appears wearing the same type of Bengali makeup as Indian actress Bipasha Basu wore at her wedding. (Stone Music Entertainment/YouTube; @bipashabasu/Instagram)

Did Nature mock Indian culture?

Cultural appropriation occurs when an individual (or a group of people) adopts the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of a different culture that is not their own, usually for profit, a transient fad or fashion aesthetic. In the case of Nature, their use of Indian culture without proper acknowledgment of the culture is being considered as cultural appropriation by Indian fans of the group.

Members of Nature seemingly mocked Indian culture while dancing to music that mimicked traditional Indian songs by making use of instruments that sounded like bangles and ghungroos; both important aspects of Indian culture. When Indian fans of the group called out this behavior, they were met by international fans of the group asking uninformed questions like ‘Are they making fun of your culture?’ or ‘Are they laughing at your culture?’.

Desi fans of Nature battle International fans after one Indian fan accused the group of cultural appropriation (Stone Music Entertainment/ YouTube)

'My culture is not your aesthetic'

Indian fans of K-pop were rightfully triggered by Nautre appropriating Indian culture. One fan said, "Y'all need to wake up. This is culture appropriation not appreciation. They're literally appropriating both Bengali and indian culture. They're wearing chandan art like it's an aesthetic when it is actually sacred and carries deep meaning in Bengali culture." They added, "You don't even see Bengali people wearing that face art just for aesthetics because it is strictly for cultural purposes. Now the bindi is worn after marriage in desi culture and bruh the mangalasutra?? Our culture is not a "concept" or an "aesthetic" thank you."

While some fans from India did talk about this cultural appropriation by members of Nature, many claimed it was "not offensive" to them. In response, K-pop fans from the Indian diaspora, settled outside India, hit back. ""It's not offensive to me" yes to YOU because you grew up in south asia and honest to god you do not have the same trauma the diaspora does....so quite frankly you can't insert yourselves into these conversations bc while to you it seems like a compliment to us it's just mockery."

One Indian fan said, "I'm indian and i can definitely tell you that wearing indian makeup, jewelry is not culturalappropriation but wearing stereotypical look and doing stereotypical dancesteps while not having the knowledge of culture is definitely hurtful think of this as olilondon doing ur culture." Another user said, "Pls stop disrespecting the indian culture, the amount of ignorance i see in the comment section about this is driving me crazy!" One fan pointed out, "The thing is, negative attention is a desperate way to stay relevant and raise the interest of a group. Nature is severely underrated, probably taking the last chances to make a hit song to save the group from disbanding, but choosing the wrongest way to do so." Another said, "I fear that this might actually be the case. Getting them into a controversy so people talk about them more. Really sad bcuz this group has so much potential."