How do you identify with your Indian heritage? #MyNariStory
Even though I was born and brought up in the US, I have found that my Indian heritage constantly seeps into my everyday life, especially as I grow older.
When I was around 5 years old, I had the hardest time going to school. I was always afraid of change. One particular day my mom handed me a coin. With designs on the rim, one side had an Om sign, and the other side had an image of a monkey. She told me that “Hanuman” was a symbol of strength and courage, and that if I kept this coin with me all my fears would be mitigated. Suffice it to say, I went to school for the rest of my days. Whether it was because of the coin or not, I couldn’t say. But I can say this- It’s almost 20 years later and it still lives under my pillow and it’s a constant reminder of the beauty, strength, and depth of my culture.
As a student who just came to the US in the 80’s for college, I found it very hard to keep up with my Indian culture. But in my late teens, watching Indian movies, eating Indian food, and hanging out with people from India comprised of my definition of “being Indian.” When I moved here, I felt such pressure to “integrate” into the American culture that my sense of heritage whittled away. As time went along, however I became more involved in my culture than ever before, even more so than when I was growing up in India. Perhaps it was the very fact that I lived in the US and not India, or that I so badly wanted my Indian-American kids to feel the same connection that I did, or that my husband and his family valued Indian culture and tradition so much, that compelled me to gravitate so deeply back to my roots. Today, my definition of “being Indian” is completely different. Everyday now begins with a prayer to my favorite God – Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, I wear my saris at any and every occasion I can, I cook Indian food for almost every meal, and, of course, I am totally up to date with all Hindi movies. Now, this represents my culture