I moved o a small town In 2004, and I was like most Americans as far as being Ignorant to the different religions that were worshipped. I was different In the fact that I was curious to meet new people and what they do. This is true even with my own step mother who is Catholic. When she joined the family she told me that she was not allowed in the church. I grew up in the Baptist church so I did not understand why this was. I sat down with her until I understood the situation. She said her goal was to become a member of the church again, and she did.
So as I was moving some of my things n one day, a few houses from me was a tall man with a turban on his head, long white hair and beard, and some sort of robe for his clothes. My daughter was frightened and asked If we were living near Osama Bin Laden. I must admit that he held a striking resemblance, but quickly assured her that It was not him and that everybody has different beliefs. With all of the stories of the terrorists It was really hard to shake my own doubts about what this gentleman true reasons for being here were. Shortly after this encounter, I met the man’s son.
He was a local entrepreneur that had been in the area for more than 30 years. He owned the small store that was within shouting distance from my house, so I found myself becoming friends with him. He was from India and studied the Hindu religion. He had four children with American wives, none of which he was still with. The more I learned about his culture, the more I wanted to learn. He was so proud of where he came from and so was his father. They both had amazing work ethics. His father is 86 years old and still works every day.
He actually rides his bicycle to work at a local industrial plant. I had so many questions for how he raised his children. His hillier are raised by their American mothers and went to public schools. One of the daughters went to college here but quickly excelled, so he sent her to India to finish. They speak English, and also speak his native Punjabi language, but It Is broken. He was quick to tell me that he had to have a son and that is why he had Tour centers. I nerve Ana to De a son to Inherit ten Tamil Yes Delousing since en was the oldest because the daughters could not.
This did not sit well with me, but he Just laughed. He said that is the way that it is in his culture. If he did not have a son, the items would go to his brothers. They are free to worship how they want. I then met my soon to be best friend and her family. She introduces me to her husband, and high school sweet heart. He is a short, with dark skin and dark hair and a southern accent. I whispered to her, “k, I give, where is he from? ” She informs me that he is from Trinidad, but that his family is originally from India. So, I asked if he was related to the local store owner.
She quickly stated that they were not and that their families do not always see eye to eye. I was shocked that this small town had this many Indians in it. I came from a slightly larger town, and I had never personally met know anyone from India and now I know two whole families. I felt privileged at this point to be able to be this diverse. Well most of us always want to know how people met, and I fell into that trap. She explained that they met in High School. She was quick to explain that her parents did not approve and she was at times forbidden to see him.
At one point her father even made her write a report on Trinidad and India Just to see how serious she was about dating him. She completed the task and her father was impressed with the report so much that he allowed the courtship. They eventually got married and have three children. He also has a sister and brother that have local families. His parents live within a few miles of all of them and so do several aunts, uncles and many cousins. The parents still speak with strong accents and practice their religious beliefs daily. The children were raised to be allowed to practice whatever religion that they choose with their families.
None of the children ever spoke the native language or practice the religion regularly. All three of them married Americans with Christian beliefs and that is what the study with their children. One day I was approached by the father and was invited to attend a Pupas at their home. Of course I had many questions about this. My friend begged me to go with her to this yearly ceremony. She said that it is a beautiful ceremony and you have to see it at least once in your life. She brought me a traditional Indian outfit to wear, that was absolutely beautiful.
Needless to say my curiosity got the best of me, and I went. I first did a little research to see what I was attending, Just in case I had any questions. I learned that Hinduism is characterized by a belief in reincarnation by a belief in a supreme being of many forms and natures. That it is the world’s oldest organized religion, existing for 4500 years. Based on the ancient Vivid Literature and is populated by and almost infinite number of Gods. Reincarnation and being held accountable for one’s deeds (Karma) are fundamental components of Hinduism.
It is the third largest category of religions. (“Hinduism for Schools”) The interesting thing about the religion is that they believe that there is a cycle to the lives we live. Since they believe in reincarnation, they believe that they only thing that follows us when we pass is our character. This cycle will continue over and over until we meet God. You start out at the lowest form and move up to human. So hen you hear people say they wish they could come back as a fly on the wall, which would be the opposite direction for the Hindu religion.
Hindus believe that if you meditate really hard you will find God in your innermost self. They consider this Atman, and I have watched them Join hands and bow to each toner when teen greet Ana say, Names. So, I sake want Tanat meant. My Eternal’ father told me that it meant that “There is God in you”. He explained to me that this is why they believe in Karma and that you should respect everyone and everything. Hindus believe that God lives in all of us and that if you hurt anyone, or yourself, that oh hurt God. (“Hinduism for Schools”) So as we attended this Pupas and I entered the makeshift temple.
There was a priest standing by the shrine where the offerings were being made, even money. I was quickly instructed to take my shoes off. The worshipers were saying mantras, and at times the priest would chant. There were picture and statues of many different deities. The other family members were praying to these deities. I noticed that a lot of them were women. I recently learned from my text that there are more than 330 million deities in India. They said that they can choose any shape they would like to view God in. Some can choose to view God as a mother in heaven, or as a shape such as fire.
The meal was blessed and there was no meat served that day. My friend’s mother ended the evening with a Hindi song that she produced on CD. (Fisher, 2008, p. 72) After this exciting day that I got to experience how the Hindus worship, dress and eat, I really wanted to know how it was to do this on a daily basis. I asked my friend why he did not speak like his parents and even if he could speak their language or worship their religion. He told me that he could not. His parents chose not to teach their children the Hindu faith or the language.
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