Remember how I told y’all my parents went to India?  And remember how I told you that my mom did some fun shopping while she was there?  And remember how I was supposed to show y’all what she got?  No?  Ok, good!  Because I was starting to feel a little guilty about forgetting. 🙂

In my attempt to photograph some of the things she bought, I learned a very valuable lesson – it’s hard to take pictures of saris when they are just lying there and not actually on someone.  It’s probably just me!  But here goes anyways…

Simple yet elegant

I was honestly in a rush when I took these, so I apologize for the poor quality photos.  But, I promise you’ll get to see  pictures of me wearing some of this stuff very soon.  One of my really good friend’s is getting engaged in May, so I’m heading home to attend her ceremony.  🙂

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking – she’s “getting engaged?” What does that mean?  In an effort to help you understand some of the Indian ways (from my experiences), I am going to share some of the most common questions I get from people when they find out I am Indian.

1.  Are you going to have an arranged marriage?
In all honesty, no one I know has had an arranged marriage, at least not in the past 25 years or so. In the traditional and most simplistic sense, arranged marriage is where two individuals who don’t know one another decide to get married. They do so with full trust that their families have chosen someone for them who is a good match. On the other hand, introductions still occur in both India and the US. I have lots of friends who were introduced to their current husbands/wives through family solely for the purpose of getting to know one another and seeing if they were a good match for marriage. However, the decision to marry is up to the two individuals, not the families.  I am not going to have an arranged marriage…never really wanted to.

2. Do you have to marry another Indian?
I think my parents would be ok if I decided to marry a non-Indian as long as they had the opportunity to get to know the person and felt that he was a good human being. I do have some friends who have been told that they must marry someone Indian and/or someone of the same religion. It’s a fine line because most of our parents immigrated to the US and still hold very traditional views on marriage.  Some parents even go as far to say that their kids must marry someone of the exact same background, so if you’re Gujarati, you would have to marry someone who is Gujarati as well.  Luckily, my parents are pretty liberal when it comes to that stuff, and all they want is for me and my sister to be happy.

3.  How is getting engaged different in the Indian sense?
So, back in the day, people in India didn’t have these romantic proposals.  Instead, once a couple decided that they were going to take the next step and get married, the families would hold a pooja (prayer service) to bless them. Things have changed though, and proposals are more common than they used to be. My friend who is getting engaged met her future husband all on her own with no family intervention.  However, they are still choosing to celebrate their engagement with a pooja and not a proposal (from what I know). I know couples who go either way, and just because you had an actual proposal doesn’t mean you still couldn’t have a pooja after the fact. Like everything else in life…it just depends!

4. Do all Indians own gas stations, convenience stores, hotels, motels, etc?
The simple answer to this is no. My parents have regular jobs, and they always have. However, according to Wikipedia, South Asians own 50% of all economy lodges and 35% of all hotels in the US.  So I suppose the real answer is not all but most!

5.  Is India really the way it’s portrayed in Slumdog Millionaire?
Yes, parts of it really are that way. Poverty is actually pretty prevalent, especially in the bigger cities (from what I’ve seen). But don’t let that fool you. Every time I visit, I’ve been five times, the same thought runs through my mind – even with nothing, how are people so happy? I guess I’m just so used to seeing and hearing about people who have everything they need but are still unhappy and dissatisfied. Makes you think, huh?

6. What does the dot your mom and grandma have on their foreheads signify?
It’s really just for decoration. It can hold a religious significance, but from what I know and understand, they wear the dot because they want to. 🙂

7. Why do Hindus not eat beef?
From what I’ve been told, Hindus believe the cow is sacred because it gives us milk, much like how a human mother gives her children milk. The belief is that we should honor animals that give us nourishment and sustenance.  And in reality, many Hindus don’t eat beef but not all. It.just.depends!

8. What culture do you relate to more, Indian or American?
Honestly, I relate to both. My parents raised us knowing full well that they wanted to instill the Indian culture in us, all while letting us grow up “American.” What this means is that growing up I spoke both Gujarati (my family’s native language) and English, I ate both traditional Indian food and American food, I enjoyed watching Bollywood and Hollywood movies, I learned Indian classical dance in high school and attended school dances, etc. My sister and I also enjoyed having sleepovers with friends, eating pizza on Friday nights, playing baseball in the summers, etc. We actually enjoyed being a little “different” from everyone else. Still kinda do… 😉

If you have any questions for me, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.  I love talking about my culture. 🙂

I hope y’all have a great Friday night.  I am heading into the city tomorrow to visit my friend Monica. 🙂  The weather is supposedly going to be gorgeous, and to say I am excited is an understatement.

By Parita

17 thoughts on “Indian Ways”
  1. I really enjoyed this post! I worked at Bruster’s in high school and my boss was Indian and she used to tell me stories about growing up in India and all of the cool foods/dishes she makes for her family. It’s cool to learn about other cultures – thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. I love your blog! I just wanted to also mention a few things:

    While 50% of all economy lodges and 35% of all hotels in the US might be owned by Indians, that doesn’t mean that 50% of indians own lodges/hotels!
    38% of the doctors in America are Indian!
    12% of scientists in America are Indian!
    36% of scientists working for NASA are Indian!
    That’s pretty impressive, considering we make up a very small percentage of the American population =)

    While poverty is rampant in India, it also has the fastest growing middle class, and some of the richest people in the world (ie Mukesh Ambani, who is projected to be the richest man in the world in the coming decade!)

    Also, the bindi, or “dot”, used to symbolize marriage. Nowadays, it does still symbolize a Hindu woman.

    just thought I’d share =)

  3. Great post! Like you Im an Indian but grew up abroad (Nigeria & London). As ‘western’ as I am, I am still Indian at heart! My parents want me to marry an Indian, preferably of the same background. That being said, I think there’s a growing trend towards accepting cross-cultural marriages.

  4. Love this post! Definitely important for people to learn all about your culture and I love how you embrace it. You are gorgeous 😀

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