Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Being Mommy: Passing Culture on to the Next Generation


Many of you may know, I emigrated to the United States with my parents when I was three years old. My parents left India with heavy hearts but a dream to succeed in America. They made a vow to continue their traditions and raise an Indian-American family. They took us back to India at least once a year to visit with our relatives, they exposed us to Indian food, movies and dance daily at home, intentionally spoke to us in Hindi, and taught us to value our heritage. It has always been a pleasure, while somewhat a struggle, to balance Indian and American values, customs and traditions in our daily lives. Until I became a parent myself, I did not quite understand the importance of preserving our culture and passing it down. Hubby and I have been trying our hardest to blend the best of east and west as little J grows up. I feel it's important to expose her to Indian traditions even at this early age. I want her to grow up with pride in her culture, but at the same time, she should feel comfortable in her surroundings. 

Living in NYC, its surprisingly easy to add a dose of our traditions into J's daily life. Both sets of grandparents live in the area and we have tons of family, religious and festive events that we celebrate together. NYC is accessible to many temples, Indian markets like Jackson Heights and Edison, and is filled with Indian dance classes, music classes & festivities. We went out of our way to hire an Indian nanny so little J would hear Hindi being spoken all day. Now, I am so proud that she is becoming bi-lingual!

When little J was 6 months old, we celebrated her Annaprasana, the South Indian ceremony of baby's first solid food. Annaprasana also consists of a fun tradition where different items are laid out in front of the baby - book, pen, musical instrument, money, jewelry - and whatever the baby crawls to is thought to be her life's calling. Little J made me so proud when she creeped over to the book! A wise lawyer? Future writer? Avid reader? 

                          

This past Diwali, she participated in my North Indian community's tradition of performing on stage at a large celebration in Long Island. She was such a little diva, and did not have stage fright at all! This is her dressed up as Goddess Laxmi, who is thought to bring wealth and good fortune at Diwali. 


                  

Traditional Prayer to Goddess Laxmi on Diwali
In the fall, I organized a group of South Asian friends to participate in a mommy & me class centered around Indian music and culture. It was so much fun to watch the kids interact and sing Hindi songs, play South Asian instruments, and dance to classical beats. Little Ustaads was a fun way to expose these munchkins to traditions of their ancestors. 



Throughout the last couple of years, we've had tons of family events ranging from religious prayers to festive celebrations, and we always take the opportunity to dress up in traditional attire and eat home-cooked Indian food. How cute is little J in her Indian outfits?? Being Indian is a source of pride for me & my family, and I hope it's the same for little J as she grows up. 

Having fun with Daddy before her Annaprasana Ceremony
                 
Inagurating Daddy's new office with a prayer
                  
at little J's Uncle's Pre-Wedding Ceremony

Another Diwali Celebration
Before a trip to the Jain Temple in Elmhurst, NY
Another big part of being Indian is enjoying Indian food! Little J is already learning to love it. More to come on this in another post this week....

2 comments:

  1. What a wonderful post! It makes it clear where Little J gets her love of the written word from! NYC seems like a great place to be raising an Indian-American child-- the best of all worlds. Also, can I please get her blue and pink Diwali outfit in my size??

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    1. Thanks Jen! Glad you enjoyed the post. More to come...

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