Birthdays, Seva & Social Activism

Want socially engaged kids? Show them your faith.

When we celebrate Deepavali every year, we focus on what we will give.

It starts with birthdays.  In India the question is, “What will you give in honor of your birthday?”  In America the question is, “What will you get for your birthday?”  Getting versus giving, this is the fundamental shift in understanding between our competing cultures of Indian values verses American values.  In our multicultural interfaith family, we deal with this tension between giving and getting, sharing and receiving, serving and being served.  By celebrating both Deepavali and Christmas, star birthdays and date birthdays, attending temple and churches we have strived to teach our children the values of service and activism. 

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We had an Arranged Marriage—Two In Fact.

Offering puffed rice into the Agni fire during the Hindu Marriage Rites in Madras, India January 19, 1997.

What do you do when cultures collide?

When people from India meet us for the first time, at some point they ask the inevitable question, “How did you meet?”  They look at my husband a handsome brown man from Bombay who speaks Tamil, Hindi, English and some Gujarati—’enough Gujarati to eat,’ we say—and then they look at me, an outspoken curvy white woman from the American South with blonde hair and they can’t imagine why or how we became husband and wife.  My husband of now 23 years should have had an arranged marriage by his parents to a nice, black haired light-skinned South Indian Tamil Iyengar woman who was trained in either Bharatanatyam dance or perhaps she was trained to play the stringed musical instrument called the vena.  She would have been educated, had a professional job likely in business, would have been younger by 3 years, and also she would be strikingly beautiful, Bollywood worthy, and even then, she would  have not been good enough for their first born son. 

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