We definitely cannot generalize about Indian kids in the US, as there are several of our friends who are strict in instilling Indian and Hindu culture in their kids. This is done in a far more stringent and disciplined way than what we have in our house, so while our kids retain a vague idea of the various aspects of their roots, other Indian kids in the US are well-versed about Indian mythology, the various Shlokas, and even why their mom occasionally switches from her jeans to a saree and a bindi on her forehead! So, this post is about how our kids view the Hindu festivals that we participate in!
Not so much our kids! The reason is the slack nature of their parents. We’ve never been very rigid in enforcing any type of specific doctrine in the kids; we do celebrate Diwali, but we also do celebrate Christmas and we enjoy Halloween, so I think our kids have just come to think of it all in one giant aggregate of fun holidays rather than differentiate each for what it’s worth!
An older Indian lady once asked me what rituals I make my boys follow on a regular basis, and I was flummoxed, because I really didn’t make them to anything on a daily or weekly basis, except take them to Hindi class once a week (we no longer go, since the place is too far away). She then gently told me that I should consider imparting some kind of religious education to them because she said, ‘you probably know that by the time they’re 12, they’ll pretty much be out of hand.” I then told her that I felt that the education that I did want to impart to both my sons is to be good human beings and to respect and care for others, and that I had no other education that I would prefer to impart over and above that. Which is perfectly true and what I principally believed in.
Still, the pinch of guilt remains that I am not doing enough; that I am not making the effort to educate my boys about our rich Indian culture. I feel the constant tug-of-war of what to show them, what to teach them, what to enlighten them with in any given moment, and the answer is never crystal clear. I am resigned to play it by the ear; I am hoping, I wish, to be content to have them grow up as world citizens rather than identify themselves narrowly to one community.
The mixed awareness-non-awareness that my sons have for our Hindu culture is pretty much examplified by the second paragraph of this essay that Big A wrote last year after we did our Ganesh puja at home (my post on it last year is linked). The puja can be performed by the family members, if they are well versed with all the rituals of the puja, but typically, people prefer calling in a priest to do the necessary. The Husband and I had a good laugh that our recorded version of a priest chanting out the verses in the puja being thought of by our boys as traditional!