Monday, June 15, 2009

Shrek and Hanuman

I just got back from a visit to the Hindu temple in Bridgewater, NJ. While I often wonder about how I would explain Indian/Hindu cultural and religious aspects to my children, whenever they are born and should we choose to raise them in the US, the past two visits to the temple have certainly given me a glimpse of what it would be like. 

During our last visit to the temple, I couldnt help but overhear an Indian mom desperately trying to explain the concept of Lord Hanuman to her children by drawing a parallel to Shrek. And today, we saw another trying to coax her kid into ordering a dosa as chicken nuggets (clearly his favorite) wouldn't be available in a Hindu temple canteen, that keeping in line with Hindu beliefs (and obvious to some of us) serves only vegetarian food. While I did feel somewhat amused at these incidents, I couldnt help sympathizing with these parents trying hard to explain these concepts to their america-born-and-raised kids.

While most Indian parents of our generation aren't exactly experts in Hindu mythology, and it may not be a stretch to assume that they do not sit their children down everyday to recite the Ramayana either, those who live in India can get away with relying entirely on their surroundings to offer this information to their children. For example, there was a huge Hanuman statue that we passed on our way to school everyday. Even if I had chosen to ignore the stories my grandparents told me about Hanuman, or Ramayana on television, just plain curiousity would've prompted me to ask questions and find out who exactly Hanuman is and why he looks the way he does. Not to mention, the numerous festivals, books, television shows and just the idols that you see in very house and every little store in India would've helped in this regard. While this is no revelation, I'm beginning to see the difficulty in inculcating certain social and religious ideals in one's children in a social set-up that offers no help in this regard...

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