Where Will Our Traditions Go?

So here’s a question that has been on my mind for a while: who is going to perform the Hindu/Sikh/etc. weddings after all of the pandits (or corresponding religious leaders) in our area retire? The group I’ve grown up with has had this discussion before. Most of the people who perform weddings now have moved to America from India. And no one I know who is in my generation is practicing to become a pandit.

What happens to all of our cultural traditions in the future? Will there be someone who can help continue them?

I’ve been making sure that my parents and my husband’s parents talk to my kid in our respective languages so she learns that part of our culture. Unfortunately, it’s a second language for me as well and I tend to go to my first language when I speak to her. On occasion, when I do remember, I do speak to her in Gujarati. But it won’t be the way my parents spoke it to me. Language is still something easier to pass on than a few other aspects.

I grew up going to pujas, temples, parties that celebrated different festivals in India. When I got married, we had an event where our families and friends sang traditional songs in our respective languages. Will our generation be able to continue this? Who will be responsible so that our children learn all of this stuff? How do make sure that we don’t lose this part of us?

It’s a little bit scary. Is it okay that our traditions progress as the way we grow up changes? Did this happen to our parents or since they all were born in the same country, the traditions were able to be passed down much easier? I wonder if this really only affects us now because we are growing up here in America and raising our children here.

I want my child to know her cultures. I want her to be able to really understand where she comes from. I’m just not sure how I can make sure that happen in the future.

3 thoughts on “Where Will Our Traditions Go?

  1. avi says:

    You pose an interesting question that I’ve wrestled with too. I’m actually in a similar situation, as I don’t speak my ancestral language very well.I think it boils down to the question of how badly do you want to continue these traditions. Given that we live in a different country multiplied by the fact that we live in different times, I think it becomes a pretty arduous task. Additionally, you have to ask the question how do you want your children to identify? Are they Indian? Are they Indian-American? Are they American? Which culture is more important?

    After all, they are going to be substantially more separated from the mother country of India. So, to instill the same cultural values and traditions as your parents have or even the one that you have directly taught from your parents that came from India, it’s going to take more work than your parents had to do with you.

    again, I have thought about this exact topic a lot in the last 2 years. At a certain point I think that I just have to accept that there is substantually diluting effect that living in a separate country has. I imagine it was completely unintended to the generation that migrated here but, we’re taught this is America: the melting pot of the world. American culture is tied to immigration from other countries. So, it’s not like China or India where there is a strong existing ethnic and cultural identity.

    I think I may be blabbing but I think my point is: teaching what you’re asking is something we may feel we owe previous generations (and I agree), but it’s going to be hard in light because we’re not in that country anymore and we’re living in different times AND the fact that there’s a competing American culture that we have to teach that should not contain elements of separatism or supremacy.

    Boy, it’s a good thing I showed up half an hour early to my meeting by accident. Otherwise, there’s no way I could have written this response!

  2. Shailee Butalia says:

    So what do we do? Do we hold classes? Do we work on learning more from our parents and communities? It is going to be hard so it might be time to find a solution when our kids are all still small.

  3. avi pai says:

    I think it boils down to figuring out what is reasonable as an expectation/outcome and how much time you have. I plan on teaching my children as much as possible about Indian cultural and heritage, but I expect a bunch of the tradition fidelity to be lost, unfortunately. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, personally. I think the term “ABCD” is offensive, but then again, I don’t agree with separatist or supremacy philosophies. I believe America is the melting pot and I embrace that.

    So, to me it’s best efforts, because I have a hard time enough with my goals of making them educated, healthy, and happy. I want them to realize and cherish that we live in a multi-cultural global environment and America is the center of it. I don’t care if they don’t marry another Indian. I want them to be in love and happy. So, if they do marry someone from another pronounced culture, I’d want my grandchildren to embrace all the cultures: American, Indian, and the other parent’s.

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