Brown Parent Quirks: No privacy

Indian parents do not believe their children need privacy. This means bedroom doors must remain open. If they are closed, it is perfectly okay to come without knocking. I am an adult but my parents still come to my room without knocking first.

Dad (opens door without knocking): Beta, Did you eat?

Me (annoyed): No, I did not. I’ll eat later.

Dad: Why keep the door closed? Don’t you feel suffocated? Keep it open so air can circulate.

Me:

 

BTW, if you are alone in your bedroom and doing something on your laptop, parents will assume the worst. What are you watching? You avoid bad sites, right? Sorry to disappoint you but I am not watching porn. Look, I am on WordPress. Ah, desi parents are a hoot.

 

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Indian Aunties and Wedding Proposals

Yesterday, I went to a close family friend’s home. We were invited for dinner and since their house is only a year old, they were giving us valuable suggestions. The lovely Mistress of that home, the auntiji asked my mom when I will be getting married?  Have they started looking for a suitable rishta ( marriage proposal)? My Mom told her I will get married when they find a handsome billionaire. My mom is awesome. Anyway, my worst nightmare is starting to come true. All of my family friends and relatives are starting to inquire about my single status. Leave me alone, people! I do not want to get married anytime soon.

I applaud my mom trolling auntiji’s

Brown Parent Quirks: Ethnocentrism

Brown parents can be very ethnocentric. My parents are from India and according to them, everything of value came out of India.

I am watching TV. Suddenly, they are talking about yoga.

Dad: Our ancestors created yoga. We also created the number zero. Our shastras (vedic textbooks) talked about earth being round and revolving around the sun. We were far ahead of Medieval Europe.

Me: Yes, I know that

Dad: Look, the whole world does yoga and meditation but we Hindus created it. We also have the best food, clothing. The way we celebrate our festivals, our culture is amazing.

Me: Yes?????(Not seeing his point)

Dad: India is not all just negative. There is good stuff too.  We actually have family values.

Me: Okay.

Dad: You should talk about good things from India in front of others.

I don’t get the let’s praise India in front of others mentality. I like to talk about the negative aspects of society because I want to bring attention to them. India is very dear to me. I was born there and most of my family still lives there. I want India to be a better place for them. I love Canada as well which is why I blogged about Rahtaeh Parsons case. Both countries have many good things that are admirable but they can both improve in other aspects. India just has more harrowing challenges then Canada. Anyway, all cultures have given us something beautiful and I get to enjoy that. YAY for Toronto being a diverse city.

The tale of my three last names

I have a last name with strange family history. Northern Indian last names differ from Western last names. If you are a Hindu, your last name reflects your caste. Since, my last name is Sharma, it reflects my Brahmin ancestry. Hence, people in India can identify my caste through my last name. According to Wikipedia, Sharma could be used as a first, middle or last name. The word has positive connotations such as joy or shelter. My understanding is that people of Brahmin caste can opt for Sharma as a last name but no one knows of its exact origin and how it turned into a popular last name.  Moreover, there are like a bajillion Sharmas  in India and the US and Canada due to immigration. Some of these Sharmas might marry another person with the last name Sharma. But before you cry incest, there is another layer behind the last names that need to be scratched. The last name doesn’t tell the Gotras (lineage). If you are Brahmin, this means you descent from one of the great sages. Hence, my dad’s Gotra is Bardhwaja, Therefore, he is a descendant of Rishi Bhardwaj. My mom who is also Brahmin has the Gotra of Vatsa. Hence, even though they are both Brahmin and their last name Sharma, their lineage is quite different. Currently in India, you cannot marry a person from the same Gotra if you are Hindu.

Now, let’s make the whole last name thing more confusing. If you have come across many Indian people, you might have noticed some Indian people with the last name of Bhardwaj. Here is the catch: My dad could have the last name of Bhardwaj since that is his lineage. I could as an adult change my last name to Bhardwaj. But, this is  not the only last name I could have. I could also opt to have the last name Barat since that is the name of my father’s sub-caste. Now, this last name is actually found in Europe as well. Apparently, it is a popular last name that originated from Normandy, France. Of course, I do not have French lineage. But the word Barat is found in Bible, Bhagvad Gita, and Quran. Now, Gita was written in Sanskrit and it is a sister language of Latin. So, it is totally possible for people from two different continents to have the same last name. Furthermore, there is speculation that  Barat connotates a profession such as Baker. Now, my ancestors were cooks for the Dogra King because the King would only eat food cooked by Brahmins as it was considered satvic (pure). So, it kind of makes sense in terms of sub-caste.

Therefore, I have  three options for a last name but I am happy with my current surname. BTW, this post was triggered after I asked my parents about our family name. They knew their Gotras and sub-caste but had no other knowledge. I didn’t even know too much about caste system except that it exists in India and some people are treated horribly due to their exclusion from the system. Those people are known as Dalit. Another interesting tidbit was that the caste system was more fluid and there was some social mobility. Under the British rule, caste system became more rigid in India and people couldn’t move up the caste system.

Hope you all enjoyed this post and please feel free to tell me about your ancestry. I have  learned other cool things about my family and I might share in the future.

Happy Ram Navami

After the events of last night, and the new rape case in India, I was full of anger. All those negative feelings caused me a lot of anxiety.Today, I went to the temple and actually had great time. It really calmed me down. I prayed for the victims and for the recovery of the little angel. Ram Navami is a festival celebrating the birthday of Lord Rama. Yes, India is a land of festivals. Everyone in the temple was extra sweet today and we had delicious food cooked by the devotees. Anyway, I hope to be more positive and hope the good people outnumber the bad ones.

Selena Gomez, Bindi and Cultural appropriation

So, Selena Gomez wore a bindi during her MTV Awards performance. A Hindu group in America released this statement:

The bindi on the forehead is an ancient tradition in Hinduism and has religious significance,” Hindu statesman Rajan Zed told WENN (via MSN). “It is also sometimes referred to as the third eye and the flame, and it is an auspicious religious and spiritual symbol … It is not meant to be thrown around loosely for seductive effects or as a fashion accessory aiming at mercantile greed.”

I don’t know. They are right that she is culturally appropriating bindi. A pop star wears a bindi and it becomes a fashion statement. But when my mom who is Hindu wears a bindi, it becomes something alien and strange. Suddenly it is that strange Indian lady with a weird red dot. Look at her not trying to assimilate to Canadian culture. On the other hand, it is just a bindi. I don’t get annoyed when people wear henna even though it is culturally important to south Asians. I guess it all comes down to respect. Try not to make other people’s religious and cultural clothing into an exotic, alien, fetishized thing. Try not to dress as an “Indian” during Halloween. Our clothing is not a costume. I don’t wear t-shirt and jeans as “costume.” If you realize that, I am happy if you spot a bindi on your forehead or Indian bangles on your wrist.

Brown Parent Quirks: Overfeeding kids

During Dinner

Mom: You are only eating this much?

Me: I am not that hungry.

Mom(putting more food on my plate): You are too skinny. Look at your bony wrist. Eat more.

15 minutes later

Me: I cannot finish this. Ah, my stomach hurts.

Mom: See, I told you don’t eat much. How can your stomach hurt by only eating this little?

Dad: Finish your dinner. Don’t waste it.

Me: Putting my leftovers in the fridge. I”l eat it later.

 

Next Day…

Me: Mom, where are my leftovers?

Mom: Your Dad ate it.

Dad: You didn’t want it in first place.

Sorry kiddo

I think most South Asian parents overstuff their kids because they did not have enough food  as children. Moreover with so much poverty and malnutrition in South Asia, being well-fed is a sign of prosperity.

 

Navratri festival begins today!

So, today is the start of Navratri festival. It is a 9-day festival hence the name Nav(9) Ratri(nights). During this festival, 9 froms of Shakti (Godess Durga) are celebrated. When I was a little girl in India, I always found Navratri to be one of my favorite festivals.  During the last two days, I would get money and Halwa(dessert) from my parents, relatives and neighbors. For some reason I thought I was getting money because I was special. However in reality during the last three days, pre-pubescent girls are ceremonially worshiped  This is called Kanya Poojan. Some of the wealthier neighbors used to give me additional presents like bangles, costume jewellery,  cosmetics, pretty Indian scarves, steel bowls etc. They also used to wash our feet and asked for our blessings. The blessing part used to make me feel so important. No wonder, I had such a big ego as a kid. When I was a little girl, I also thought I should create a religion and people should follow it. My religion’s rule was simple. Instead of getting money only on certain festivals, I should get money every day. My parents put an end to that dream.

In certain Indian states like Gujrat,  Navratri is celebrated by Garba and Dandiya Raas (folk dances). Here is a Bollywood Garba song. Enjoy 😀

5 things I like about Indian culture

1. Food: Well, this is no surprise. Indian food is delicious. I also like the diversity. Sadly, the food that is most popular among Canadians is from one region of  India.  There is more to Indian food then butter Chicken people. Although, I do love me some Punjabi food as my mom hails from that region.Right now, I am really loving the cuisine from Andhra region. They have the best rice varieties but good luck finding it in Indian restaurant menus.

2. Clothing: God, I love Indian clothes. I find Sari to be extremely elegant and Salwar Kameez to be very practical. Lehengas are sexy and sophisticated. I just love the use of color, fabric, embroidery, beading and the attention to detail in Indian clothes.

3. Dance: From classical to folk, I love Indian dance forms. Then, there is Bollywood which is a mashup of everything. I really cannot dance but I enjoy seeing other people dance especially if they do folk dances like Bhangra or Garba.

4.Wedding: Indian weddings are beautiful and intricate. I do think they could be less extravagant but i enjoy a lot of the symbolism that goes on in our weddings. My favorite parts are the mehendi (henna) night and the reception.

5.Family: Indian families are very close. In India, your cousin is like your sibling and your second cousin is considered like your first cousin. My dad is especially close to his cousins and we have large number of relatives. Family gatherings are fun and weddings a riot.

 

Sorry for the late post but I am sick again. So, tired.