Kind of Hindu

kind of hinduMindy is not very engaged with her Indian culture. In fact, other than a tolerance for spicy food (and the ability to order it at an Indian restaurant), she has little connection with her heritage. And her religion? She’s celebrated holidays at the Hindu temple as a child, but does not completely understand the religious connections behind them.

However, after the birth of her daughter, Mindy begins to realize that an important part of parenting is sharing ones religious and cultural heritage with ones children. This prompts Mindy to explore and ponder how Hindu she wants she wants to be and how how much Hinduism she wants to pass on to her child.

I noticed . . .

I noticed that this is something all parents worry about. Those of us who grow up in a religion with a hell tradition worry about this even more because we are concerned with making sure our children avoid hell. No one wants to mess their children up, and I could relate to this essay because, my religious experience took a more traditional trajectory than it had been on after the birth of my firstborn. Now, I worry about messing them up even more as I have veered back into the path I was on before I took such a traditional turn. Did I do the wrong thing by taking such a traditional tack? That’s a concern for another blog post.

I wondered . . .

I wondered why we feel so invested in how our children turn out. Mindy had a definite picture how she did not want her daughter to turn out (and I agree that Hillsong Christian is not always a good look). However, until the end of the essay, it was unclear to Kelly why this issue was so important to her and why she wanted her daughter to be at least kind of Hindu.

I also wondered how much control we have over who are children turn out to be anyway. I find that my own attempts to mold my children often backfire. After all, they are their own people with their own experiences. Instead, I find that we hold out our beliefs and what is important to us and hope they choose to value those things as well.

It reminded me of . . .

The people are so desperately trying to stem the secularizing of our culture. Every salvo in our culture war is our attempt to control what our children and those around us believe and are influenced by. We want to force our culture to value the things that we value. 

I also thought of two novels that I read last year that really showcase the immigrant experience and the parental desire to keep children from making cultural accommodations.

The first one, Stand Up, Yumi Chung!, involves a middle school girl. Her parents are pushing her to focus academically so that she can have a better life here in America than their barely break-even Korean restaurant. Yumi, however, wants to be a stand-up comedian. She cares far more about being funny than about making good grades to become a doctor or a lawyer.

The second one, Ties That Tether, tells of a young woman named Azere. She is a Nigerian immigrant living in Canada, who in many ways has acculturated to Candian society. There is one point, however, where she refuses to lose her culture. She will only date and marry a Nigerian man. This changes a little, however, when a one night stand with a white man leaves her pregnant.

As you can see in my book picks, I think the desire to pass on one’s faith is intimately connected to the cultural heritage we want to pass onto our children.  I think it’s fine that Mindy settles on Kind of Hindu. That way she’s not pretending to be more religious than she is, but she also passes on some of her culture to her children.


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