Posts Tagged ‘Festivals’

Do your children know the Real India?

November 11, 2011

There are many cliches associated with second and third generation NRIs. That they are too westernised, that they are out of touch with their Indian cultural ethos, that they are a confused amalgam of Indian and foreign, hence not quite sure of where they really belong. As a first generation NRI, and tough as it may be for me to admit; a lot of these aspersions, are true. Let me explain.

When we moved to the US from India, our children were young, very young. Sarah was two and Sumit was just born. As time went on, in a bid to fit in, and assimilate in society here in the US, we went out of our way, not to seem or behave too ‘Indian’. And in this desperate bid to be accepted abroad, all that was innately Indian about us, just fell by the wayside. My husband and I adopted a completely westernised lifestyle. And while that in itself was not such a bad thing, what we gave up as a result, was any shred of Indian culture.

We did not speak of India or our family back home. We did not actively celebrate any of our festivals, or occasions that we as first generation NRIs had grown up on, back home in India. To put it bluntly, we had divorced any and every notion of Indian-ness, so as not to seem alien; not realising that it was our own insecurities, not so much the peoples’ around us, that made us be this way.

The immediate fall out of this? The kids, who were brought up on a strict ‘foreign’ diet of values, culture, and lifestyles; making them inwardly and unconsciously, despise everything Indian! Today, when Rajat and I see Sarah and Sumit go about life as grown adults, completely disconnected from their Indian roots, harboring this unsaid but very obvious cultural vacuum; we realise our grave mistakes. And from our personal experience, we now wish to at least caution others like us, to not fall into the same superficial traps.

As a mother, it is very painful for me to see this, much more so, to admit it and talk about it. But we feel that we owe it to the many more Indian families that move abroad, that it is vital to bring up your children with a strong sense of their Indian heritage. To make them proud of who they really are, not shun it. Trips back to India to spend time with family, friends, and experience the country. If you can afford it, sending the kids to boarding school in India even, and at home, wherever abroad that may be, to proudly celebrate India, and Indian culture. These are things that are a must, to instill, and maintain a strong identity, so that your children don’t loose their way in the global village.

Ask yourself, do your children know the real India, and the answer will make you, take the right steps.

Green Diwali

October 25, 2011

About a week back my seven year old son came back from school and handed me a note from his teacher. Tushar doesn’t usually get into trouble so I was a bit surprised to find he had a note which I was supposed to sign. I wore a stern look and asked for the note. What I read was such an eye opener, I felt amazed, and frankly, a bit embarrassed.

First off, it was not a complaint note, rather the absolute opposite. It was a commendation note his teacher had sent for an excellent essay. And now for the amazing and embarrassing part – after reading through his essay on Diwali, it was clear why he had been given such high marks. Because here was a seven year old who had written about how he would like to spend his Diwali allowance on anything but crackers!! About how he felt there was already too much pollution in the world and he did not want to add to the fumes or noise. About how he felt that Diwali was a time of celebration, but when millions starve on the streets, he didn’t think it right to spend unless he bought something for the needy…

It was an essay that would have done any responsibly thinking adult proud, and here was just a seven year old boy who ought to have been preoccupied with crackers on Diwali, and not necessarily with keeping the environment clean. The embarrassing part? Plainly put, the teacher too felt, it was us adults who had forgotten our debt to the planet and to society, and that it took a young boy to wake us out of our slumber, and hence the mandatory signature from me. And as I later found out, Tushar’s essay was printed and sent to each home, for the parents to read!

My point? Somewhere we have forgotten the true meaning of Diwali. But after reading Tushar’s essay, I realize that it is love, giving, generosity, sharing, and caring, for the self, for others, and for Mother Earth. And this has little or nothing to do with blowing up lots of crackers. I can only wish that more of us have this same realization this Diwali. That we don’t use our kids as an excuse to dilute the meaning of this wonderful festival, and celebrate instead, a truly memorable, green, clean, and happy Diwali. Happy green Diwali to you all.

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