The Festival of Eid al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic year.
In Ramadan, Muslims believe that God sent the Angel Gabriel to reveal the first oral verses of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
During the time of Ramadan, from sunrise till sunset, Muslims across the world fast. In Ramadan Muslims try to be extra mindful towards others, give charity, and most importantly they try to read the Quran as much as possible.
Eid al-Fitr means “The Festival for the Breaking of the Fast”. It is celebrated on the first day of the month of Shawwal, the month after Ramadan.
The actual day of the festival day depends on the sighting of the crescent moon which marks the first day of the new Islamic month. This year the Eid al-Fitr Festival will fall on approximately the 5 June 2019.
After the Eid prayers in the morning everyone greets each other with “Eid Mubarak” which means “Happy Eid”. The traditional response to ‘Eid Mubarak’ is “Kul aam wa antum bi khair” which loosely translates as “and a good year ahead for you too”.
During Eid, children receive presents from their family and close family friends. They are usually gifted money for them to save or spend as they wish.
Everyone enjoys dressing up in their special new clothes for the Eid al-Fitr Festival. Eid is a special time for Muslim families to visit their family and friends.
Many people also attend special celebrations across the city held in the parks so children may play together. Many food tents are at the festival so you can try traditional Eid celebration food from many different countries from around the world.
Many delicious foods are made especially for the festival celebrations. All the food is made for sharing.
My favourite Eid Cookie is called Klaicha. It is a traditional Iraqi biscuit made with fine Semolina filled with dates. Some people like to fill them a with pieces of Turkish delight or coconut and sugar mixture. Either way they are very delicious. Link to a recipe here: http://globalcookies.blogspot.com/2007/10/iraq-klaicha.html?m=1
Maamoul cookies are made in Syria and Lebanon. These are shortbread style cookies filled with dates or pistachio nuts, and dusted with icing sugar.
Being from Kuwait, I have seen Muslims celebrate Ramadan and Eid and even celebrated this Muslim festival of fasting. The book “Let’s celebrate Ramadan and Eid” still had a lot to teach me about the these two important aspects of the Muslim culture, even enlightening me (and of course my children) about how different cultures around the world celebrate the same days of fasting and festivities. I am constantly on the look out for books that help broaden my children’s world view and this book was a great way to introduce them to the Muslim culture.
No matter how much you think you know, there is always more to learn through the Maya and Neel adventures.
I received this book from Ajanta Chakraborthy, an amazing content creator and am frankly so privileged to get first dibs on this amazing new addition to the Maya and Neel collection of books that imparts to the world the minute intricacies of sub cultures with the Indian ecosystem.
This book is another gem in the beautiful tapestry that Ajanta and her husband Vivek are creating for the world to explore and learn from. I have said it before and I say it again, the word glossary in the beginning is a great addition for families to learn a new language.
Maya and Neel take us on another unique adventure showing us through vivid illustrations and a welcoming story of diversity. They even let us peek into the lives of the Khan family. You really do not want to miss out on this trip around the world with these adorable twosome and their pet squirrel who also gives up peanuts to be one with the family that is hosting them.
The story totally enthralled my children and we have read it five times in the two days we have had it. I would say, if you have a question about the diversity with the Indian culture, Maya and Neel are your go to travel buddies.
If you have not already, there is no better time than now to start on this amazing series and pick up this great book to introduce to your children about Ramadan and Eid.
I an Indian, born and brought up in a small north Indian town named Roorkee. Ours is a land where both modern and traditional way of life manage to survive hand in hand. Here medicine, science, modern technology, old wives tales and superstition all keep jostling each other for space on the same platform.
I always believed that coming from a family where education is valued above all else, I had left the ‘knock-on-wood’ world far behind. I believed this ,that is, until I thought the word “baby” out aloud.
Let me tell you having a baby is just not simply conceiving a baby and carrying to term. It is also not only delivering the baby and then focusing on keeping your sanity while raising the child.
Yes, having a baby is all this and it is also dodging landmines of dangers lurking in every corner, waiting to attack. Dangers that are above and beyond the explainable logical world.
No matter how educated or modern an average Indian family is, the minute a (much awaited) baby knocks on their world, everything changes.
[bctt tweet=”Most modern Indian families turn to old wives talesthe minute things go wrong for their bundle of joy. ” username=”contactrwc”]
I learned that an Indian baby is apparently a ‘magnet’ for all the roving evil eyes in the world. The minute I broke the news of the pregnancy to both the would-be grandmothers, all the possible dangers in the land of the evil became real.
Out came the spools of black thread, packets of chili, and salts. The only way I was allowed to step out of the house was with various threads and amulets hanging around my neck(to ward off the evil EYE) and armed with onion and garlic(to ward off evil SPIRITS ). It was at this point that I realized that I it is not just the seen that you are battling with but also the unseen.
At this point if you try to appeal to the progressive men in the family, they simply nod and go back to their newspapers. Afterall, why take a chance and it’s just chili that is being burnt and salts being thrown and neither is frightfully expensive.
Giving Birth to My Cute Evil Eye Magnet
So, after dodging all the dangers and managing to stay alive, you give birth to the precious baby. This particular tiny person has a magnetic field so strong that every roving evil eye on the planet finds it’s way directly and sticks to it.
Indian grandmothers come fitted with special antennas that come out the minute the baby is out of the womb. In a world where thousands of babies are born every second, these antennas can pick up the exact number of times their precious little person has been cast upon with the evil eye.
Even before putting clothes on the baby we put a black dot on the baby’s face. This is a very “smart” dot, which stares right back at anyone trying to cast an evil eye on the baby and provides round the clock protection.
Next level of security are the black and red threads, these come with the tag ‘protecting-babies-since-eternity’.
Only once all the security measures are in place is the baby introduced to the world. As a new mother leaving the house with the baby meant carrying the essentials like onion, garlic and of course the baby bag, might need a diaper or something.
As the world knows babies tend to fall sick, but not every sneeze, cough or crying spell can be explained through science or medicine. It might be the doing of one of the well wishers secretly casting an evil eye, and being the strong magnet that the poor little kid is, results in getting sick.
After surviving the initial zombie, new mom phase, I felt I now have the hang of things. I decided to go back to my life and was sent packing with bags full of chili along with the other security measures and the grandmothers teary eyed blessings.
Once we kind of settled down some of our friends decided to come and visit the baby. It was a pleasant evening, with us showing off our little person, until the last guest left. That was the moment the baby started crying, so we changed, fed and walked the baby. The crying turned to screaming so we checked for any fever or discomfort.
Still after one hour of trying all we can the screaming would not stop and we were on the verge of panic. We decided to pack up and run to the grandmothers and never return without one of them. That is when an alternate solution hit me and I went running for the forgotten chili and salts. Once again the unexplained rescued us. Baby just calmed down.
I have been playing part time sorceress since, as and when needed, because why take a chance. I have been surviving my mom life with the help of Google, both the grand mothers and of course the additional security measures of divine help, all in that order.
So even though none of us would call ourselves superstitious people but when it comes to our kids, we walk a very fine line. Iphones in one hand and chili in the other, we keep battling parenting. We try to balance logic with the illogical, because why would anyone want to take a chance?
Shalini Tyagi is an Indian,born and brought up in India,currently living in Dubai. She is mother of two school going children and is a stay at home mom. An avid reader, she has recently forayed into blogging to bring to light her writing skills. She hosts her own website tyagishalinid.com.
India is famous for its cultural and traditional richness of festivals and celebrations. We, our family love the second half of every year since those six months are full of many festivals. I personally love to celebrate many festivals like Maha Shiva Rathri, Krishna Jeyanthi, Vinayagar Chaturthi because of their vibrant, colorful, foodie and cultural way of celebrations rather than their religions importance.
Festivals really help us to inculcate friendship, cultural importance and moral values in the young minds of our children. Recently we celebrated Sri Krishna Jeyanthi at our home. So I thought of sharing the pooja and celebrations of Sri Krishna Jeyanthi with you to throw some light on our Indian tradition and culture.
What Is Sri Krishna Jeyanthi?
Krishna Janmashtami or Janmashtami or Sri Krishna Jeyanthi is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.
When Is Sri Krishna Jeyanthi Celebrated?
It is celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) during August or September.
What Are The Other Names For Sri Krishna Jeyanthi?
How We Celebrate Sri Krishna Jeyanthi At Our Home?
We invite our friends and relatives for the pooja and festival. Sri Krishna Jeyanthi is a fun filled celebration particularly for kids. So we invite all nearby kids for the festival. Also, we involve our son to be a part of the celebrations by making decorations and arrangements at our home.
Beautiful Krishna Sticker At Our Drawing Hall
We welcome our guests with colorful Kolam or Rangoli. Also we draw small footprints of rice flour from the entrance of our house to our pooja room. This is for welcoming Sri Krishnato our house. Making the footprints using rice flour is for small creatures like ant and insects to eat. We just care more for all living creatures.
Kolam or Rangoli
All the idols and photos of gods and goddesses at our pooja room are decorated with flowers, garlands and jewels. And Sri Krishna statue or photo is specially decorated. We offer Sweet Aval or Poha, Seedai, Murrukku, Butter, Butter Milk, Jhangiri, Pal Kova, Betal Leaves, Coconut and Fruits as prasad. Mostly the snacks will be prepared at home with extra flavor of yummy ghee. Krishna is a big lover of butter and ghee. So we believe that he will bless us with all abundance by tasting his favorite snacks.
Decorations At Our Pooja Room
Krishna songs and slogams will be played. The house will be filled with aroma of splendid incense sticks. It adds a divine effect to the celebrations. All family members will assemble and the eldest of the family will do the pooja. And the pooja starts with Aarthi, Songs and ends with yummy snacks.
Offerings To Lord Sri Krishna
Children will be dressed as Krishna and Radha. The elders will tell the stories of Sri Krishna. They enjoy by singing songs, playing instruments, dancing, reciting mantras, drawing, coloring and playing dramas. We, ladies, myself, my amma and my mother in law will recite Krishna Astakam and sing Sri Krishna Songs.
Also we visit to nearby Krishna Temples. Anna Thanam or Donation of Food will be offered at most of the temples on this auspicious day. We would usually donate some money and rice for this ceremony. Thus festivals will bring us closer, kinder and happier by all means. Also festivals are an easy way to teach spirituality to our kids.
What Mantra To be Chanted On Sri Krishna Jeyanthi?
We will chant Krishna Maha Mantra. This mantra can be chanted by anyone irrespective of religion, faith, gender and nation.
Image Credit: Pinterest
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare
Krishna means “the all-attractive one,” and Ramameans “the reservoir of pleasure.”Hare invokes His presence in our lives. This Maha (great) Mantra – chanting of His holy names brings innate satisfaction and the highest pleasure to all of us.
The sound and vibrations of this maha mantra will bring peace, happiness, cleanse the mind and soul, suppress our sorrows and anxieties.
Do you celebrate any festivals? What are the fun and joy about your festivals? How do you involve your kids on the celebrations? Please share with us …… And stay tuned for our Vinayagar Chaturthi celebrations .
Vasantha Vivek loves to call herself as a happy woman, daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, friend, mentor, seeker, lover. She’s from Kovilpatti, a small town of Southern Tamilnadu of India. She was a teacher by profession. She worked as a professor at an Engineering College for nearly 15 years. She has learned a lot as a teacher. She hopes that she had inspired some hearts during that period. Teaching is her passion Reading is her love. Cooking is her heart. She enjoys reading and writing very much. You can find her @mysweetnothings on Facebook and Twitter.
Easter was celebrated worldwide on April 16. This Christian festival, which is actually holds more importance than Christmas, marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his death by crucifixion at the hands of the Romans. It also marks the end of 40 days of Lent, which is a period when Christians have a religious obligation to fast, pray and observe penance.
Estimates peg the number of Christians worldwide at more than 2.2 billion. Of these, around 27 million are Indians. Yours truly happens to be one among them.
Christianity in India
The history of Christianity in India is almost as old as the history of Christianity itself. As per ancient Indian Christian tradition, the religion and culture surround it was brought to India by Thomas the Apostle around AD 50 in a region that now forms part of the Southern Indian state of Kerala. It is also said that another Apostle, Bartholomew, disembarked on the western coast of India and spread Jesus’ message.
The number of Christians in the southern state of Kerala who practice the Syrian Orthodox doctrine of Christianity is evidence of the fact that India is home to some of the earliest Christians in the world.
However, Christianity in India spread significantly between the 16th and the early 19th centuries, when Portugal had colonies in India. Erstwhile Portuguese colonies in India, including Goa, Daman, Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and even Mumbai are known to be home to large populations of native Christians even today.
Between the 16th and early 19th centuries, Portuguese Missionaries, with the support of the Colonists, were able to convert hordes of natives in their colonies to Christianity (Roman Catholicism to be precise).
It is worthwhile, however, to know that not all of these conversions were done in the right attitude and spirit on the part of the Portuguese Missionaries. In fact, there are many stories of natives being coerced, sometimes with the threat of violence or attachment of property.
[bctt tweet=”I to belong to a family of Catholics who originate from the Mangalore district of the southern India, in Karnataka. Originally Portugese.” username=”contactrwc”]
History of Mangalorean Catholics
I happen to belong to a family of Catholics who originate from the Mangalore district of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. After a lot of reading and discussions with older generations in the family, I learnt that Mangalorean Catholics were originally inhabitants of the Portuguese colony of Goa.
Apparently, they had migrated out of/fled from Goa at different points in time for reasons ranging from the Portuguese Inquisition in Goa (circa 1560), the occurrence of famines and epidemics and political upheavals/wars. It is interesting to note that most of these Mangaloreans religiously held onto a lot of their Hindu/native Indian customs and traditions.
[bctt tweet=”Most Mangaloreans religiously held onto a lot of their Hindu/native Indian customs and traditions.” username=”contactrwc”]
Language and Dialects
Although the younger generation prefers to speak in Hindi (the national language of India) or in English, in traditional Mangalorean Catholic households the language spoken is Konkani.
Konkani is actually the language used by Goans and has a lot of Portuguese influence, but the Konkani used by Mangalorean Catholics is heavily influenced by the South Indian languages of Kannada and Tulu. Also, interestingly, the Mangalorean Konkani is written in Kannada script.
Traditional Mangaloreans will always have a Christian or a European name, and also a native/Indian middle name. For example, my full name is Christopher Roshan D’Souza. My brother’s name is Ravi Vincent D’Souza. You will also find a tradition of pet names like Pedru for Peter, Ijju for Isabelle, Mettu for Matilda, Gibba for Gilbert, Panchu for Francis, and so on.
History of surnames
Mangalorean Catholics bear Portuguese surnames. This is because our Goan ancestors assumed the surnames of the Portuguese priests who baptised them when they were converted, or their Portuguese godparents.
Hence, you will find surnames like Furtado, Pinto, D’Souza, Pereira, Gomes, Coutinho, Fernandes, and so on in the community. But prod the elders in the community a little and they will tell you the Indian surnames of their ancestors – Prabhu, Shenoy, Nayak, Pai, Kamath, Shet, and so on.
A Mangalorean Catholic Wedding will initially look like a European White Wedding in the Chapel. Later, you will see Indian rituals like flowers being used to adorn brides’ hair, brides being draped with traditional red Indian bridal sarees (known in the community as ‘Sado’).
Bridegrooms tying Mangalsutras around their wives’ necks, farm produce like pumpkins, rice, betelnuts, coconuts, etc. being exchanged between families, and many others.
On the evening before the wedding, a ceremony known as ‘Ros’ is organised. This is for both the bride as well as the groom by their respective families. A symbolic purification and anointing is conducted by way of applying coconut milk on their heads, hands and feet – this is like a traditional Hindu ‘Haldi’ ceremony.
There is also a ceremony at the end of the wedding reception known as ‘Opsun’, which is similar to the ‘handing over’ ceremony called ‘Vidaai’ that Hindus practice, wherein the bride’s parents symbolically hand over their daughter to her in-laws and request them to treat her as their own daughter.
Warding off Evil Eye
There is a very Indian concept known as ‘the evil eye’. There is believed to be a curse cast unknowingly by a malevolent glare. It is believed that it can be caused either when someone looks at you with evil intentions, or envies you, or sometimes even when someone is extremely fond of you.
It is believed that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury. Traditional Mangalorean Catholic households follow the traditional Hindu way of warding off the evil eye with the help of salt, red chilli peppers and some exotic Indian spices.
These interesting trivia are merely the tip of the iceberg as far as the community is concerned.
Christopher Roshan D’Souza is father to a 3 year old boy. By profession, he has a Masters Degree in Finance. He is working as a Research Analyst with a reputed global data and insights company. In an alternate life, he is a blogger who loves writing poems and short stories. He has a keen interest in music across genres, is a football fanatic (Arsenal FC fan), and is currently learning to play the guitar. He also loves trekking to hill forts and photography. Christopher likes to describe himself as a Jack of a few trades and a master of some, and as an introvert who loves appreciation yet hates being in the limelight.
Ramadan – the holiest month for Muslims around the world; the month when almost two billion Muslims around the world abstain from food, and water from dawn to dusk. The days when they dedicate their time to piety and prayer. Muslims believe that it was during this month that the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him).
It is the month of peace and forgiveness. While abstaining from food and drink is possibly the most visible aspect, that isn’t all there is to it. Muslims believe that the rewards reaped for acts of worship, and other good deeds, during this holy month, are multiplied. A large number of Muslims also participate in the special ‘Taraweeh’ prayers in the evening.
It is believed that one of the last ten nights of Ramadan is Lailatul Qadr or the Night of the Decree. During this night, the first few verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). This night is considered to be a night of blessings, and forgiveness.
That is just an introduction to what the Holy month means to Muslims from a religious standpoint. What I would like to talk about is the cultural significance of what Ramadan means to me?
Observing Ramadan in Childhood
As a young Indian Muslim growing up in the Middle East (Bahrain, to be precise), Ramadan was a time of joy! Of caring and sharing. It was a time for families and community gatherings. It was a time for worship, and learning. It was exhausting – oh, yes! Absolutely! But also immensely rewarding.
Almost a month before the Holy month began, we would start cleaning the house. It was pretty much our annual spring cleaning. As the days got nearer, we would start making and freezing dishes which can be prepped easily. My mom would start chanting religious prayers and songs – songs which I can recall easily to this day – many years after I have left home.
The best part about being in a Muslim country is that it is around you all the time.
The malls and streets are decorated and lit up with crescent moons, lamps and stars. Ramadan Kareem billboards are everywhere. The Azan (the call to prayer) is heard loud and clear five times during the day. People don’t eat or drink in public, and almost all restaurants are closed till the fast opens each day – in respect for those are fasting and well, because it is the law.
[bctt tweet=”The best part about being in a Muslim country during Ramadan is the convenience. It is around you all the time. ” username=”contactrwc”]
I remember days when we had to climb up our three flights of steps after school, at around 2pm, lugging our incredibly heavy school bags. After a long day at school, we would be famished! But we still had a few hours to go. Watching some television, doing homework, or playing were the activities while we were really young. As we became teenagers, and then adults, the role – in the hours that led to Iftar – was about helping mom in the kitchen, and setting up the table.
At the dusk prayer, we would all sit together, and break our fast as a family. Starting with dates – as Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) has been recorded as suggesting – and water, we then jump into a feast.
As adults, we obviously know that Ramadan is about anything but food – but as kids, food was one of the things we looked forward to the most during the days of fasting.
The common dishes on any Malayali Muslim’s table would be – the semolina kanji or the lentil kanji, Tang – usually the orange flavor, some fruits and a variety of typical snacks. The snacks ranged from the sweet – pazham pori (Plantain banana fritters), unnakkai (plantain banana missiles stuffed with sweetened coconut filling), Sweet Ada to the savory – samosa, cutlets, fish ada, prawns ada, erachipathiri and so on! Ah! My mouth is already watering.
There were also a number of Iftar gatherings across the country. Not just family gatherings, but also organized by various associations and clubs like the Indian Club, and the Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam (and others – but these two I am extremely familiar with).
Many of these saw the participation of a large number of non-Muslims. I have listened to the sermon of a Christian priest, and the teachings from a Hindu pandit, as well as Muslim imam at the same gathering. I was and am always amazed at how people come together for a celebration – while fully respecting the religious values and ethos of those who are fasting. Such gatherings are extremely important – and as children, it helped us learn values of diversity, of respect, and of humanity.
[bctt tweet=”Garangao is an arab version of Trick or Treating during Ramadan where kids where traditional clothes and go home to home.” username=”contactrwc”]
Another very interesting celebration during Ramadan – usually the fourteenth day is known as Gergaoon or Garangao. Children dress up in traditional outfits, sing traditional songs, and go from house to house collecting nuts or candies. An Arab version of trick or treating, one can say.
I have had the pleasure of participating in a few of those celebrations in Qatar (as an adult though), and I just cannot wait for my son to grow up. Big halls are set up with multiple booths for children’s activities, reading, coloring, traditional games, photobooths, it really is an experience in itself.
Even as child, and now as an adult, there is one thing every one always looks forward to – the end of Ramadan – not because it brings the end of fasting but because it brings Eid! The Eid at the end of Ramadan is known as Eid Al Fitr.
Of course the days leading up to is busy – the prayers being the most important element. And shopping for new clothes, putting henna on our hands, and one more round of house cleaning.
Once the moon has been spotted, and Eid has been declared, my mom would start reciting the Takbeer (a prayer chant) loudly at the house, and we would join in too. All this with uncontainable excitement about the next day.
On Eid Day, we would wake up nice and early for the special morning prayers which happened around 6am. Across Bahrain, there would be Eid gaahs (special grounds set up for community Eid prayers), or we would just go to the grand mosque.
Eis was really about family and community. And as kids (and even now for me 😛 ), there is an added bonus of (hopefully) getting Eidi. A token sum of money that children used to get from elders! We then go out and visit relatives, and of course there is some biriyani involved! And get Eidi from them as well.
Now in Qatar, we make it a point to go for the fireworks show that is organized every Eid. In India, it is a very common practice to have fireworks at home. I used to love celebrating Eid in India because of that!
But Eid is the Middle East is extra special – like Christmas probably is in the West.
Schools are closed for three days. There are decorations and festive bill boards everywhere. The entire country celebrates it – doesn’t matter if you are Muslim or not, expat or local, child or adult! Eid is a celebration for every member of the community! There is definitely celebration in the air.
With Eid coming up soon, I wish you a blessed Ramadan Kareem and an exciting enjoyable Eid Mubarak! Do share your experience of the Holy month of Ramadan.
Dilraz Kunnummal is journalist, public speaker, dancer, explorer, and mum to a cheeky one-year-old. She has a decade of experience working in the media industry across India and the Middle East. Her portfolio includes being the editor for a women’s magazine, heading a business publication’s editorial team, running a corporate newspaper, and producing radio shows for a channel with 45 stations across India. A lifelong expat, Dilraz loves learning more about different cultures and traditions. Her goal as a mom is to raise a child who knows empathy, kindness and compassion, while also being confident of reaching his own potential whatever that may be. Dilraz often pens her thoughts on mother hood, and life with her family on her blog, mommydil.com
In the fast paced modern society, when everything is changing so rapidly, I think it’s our obligation to make us as well as our family, more flexible, more adjustable so as to be more compatible with the norms of the society. The migration of people from one part of the world to another has also become one such norm.
Whether in search of job or to earn more money or just for a change or for their families or for any other reason, people today are not reluctant in making a change. Though the world is a small place, still the cultures, customs and traditions are quite different in each and every part, whether it’s within a particular country or outside a country.
In this age, the idea of being secular becomes essential.
When you respect each and every religion along with its customs –
–You’ll be able to mingle up with the residents of that place and definitely feel one amongst them.
–You’ll be joyful throughout as you can take part in their celebrations too , with full energy and enthusiasm.
–You’ll never be aloof or desserted in the hour of need as there’ll be a support system for you with whom you can share your griefs and sorrows.
–You can have celebrations round the year, thus leaving little or no room for negativity.
–And most importantly, you’ll also have a chance to spread your fragrance too.
Having no idea of tomorrow, I make it a point to teach or discuss various festivals with my kids so as to make them a responsible and a compassionate being. But, it was not easy initially as the obsolete but important question—
But it’s said-Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And in the process of finding the answer to the above question, I also became a ‘Learner’. And that helped me a lot, even helping now.
–I educated myself about the particular festival. For example, if about Christmas, I learnt about its origin and importance through books and internet, of course.
–I got myself involved with the members of the particular community, who used to celebrate it and learnt to make the dishes and little things related to that festival. Like for Christmas, I learnt to make Christmas tree, bells and Christmas cake. Once we even made the snowman. And believe me, the experience was ecstatic.
–I even learnt some stories to narrate to my children about that festival. For Christmas, I learnt the story about Jesus Christ .
–And nothing is complete until you give your imagination, some colorful wings. So for Christmas, I created an imaginary Santa in my kids’ mind who would give them chocolates on 25th December. And it worked. Just after getting up, they look for their chocolates under their pillows. They thank Santa for the chocolates and relish the experience that they get from these little things whenever we come across any Christian family as they never feel left behind.
That’s why I feel it’s the feeling, the empathy towards any religion that matters a lot which only, we as parents can instill in the little hearts of our children .What they develop is faith, which they’ll definitely cherish later.
Ruchika Rastogi, an Indian who was born and brought up in Delhi. She loves to explore the unexplored. A mother of two lovely kids, she works as a teacher and her passion for writing has helped her survive during her hard times. Her first non fiction book got published last year with the name-A Mystical Majesty-the woman. As a contributing author, her anthology with the title–Wait Till I Tell You got launched recently. With dreams in her eyes, she believes in living life optimistically.
The Pew research center published an article last year about diversity pointing out 10 important demographic trends last year. One of the statistics stood out for me. It said” By 2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority.”
We are raising our children in increasingly diverse society with representations from so many different cultures. The electorate, the work force, our education system are all going to be impacted. We will see people around with different ways of speaking, dressing, eating, praying and living. It is a massive opportunity to learn about each other and grow. We will essentially witness a rainbow of cultures, but we have to be ready to open our windows and step outside. What are some things we can do to make diversity an important part of our households?
Festivals are important. Other than celebrating with our family and friends, we should raise awareness in our schools about each other’s festivals. For example, I realized fall is chock full of festivals from different cultures. It would be great to do a showcase of different cultures in school. Maybe a culture day to celebrate different festivals Rosh Hasanah, Diwali, Onam, Eid, Ashura, Thanksgiving to name a few. Check the calendar and stop by the school and see if you can talk to the classroom about your festival. Encourage other families from different ethnic groups to do the same.
Children are constantly looking at the books they read to form world opinions. Let’s give our children diverse material. There is no need to be pedantic about cultural topics. Sometimes simple books are the best conversation starters. If you have read ‘Last stop on Market Street’ by Matt De La Pena, you will know what I mean. The book teaches empathy and love in a way that is so easy and even fun for the children to understand. Ask your library to stock up with diverse books be it from your culture or other cultures you have been curious about.
Make an effort to build connections with families from different cultures. We are always comfortable with the familiar, but we learn and grow by exposing ourselves to the new. Call your neighbors over be it for Chai and samosas or Coffee and Cake. Arrange for playdates with children from different communities. Just stop by and say hello to that person who just moved here from a different country. Let your friendships expand.
What better way to learn about different ways of living than actually seeing and experiencing it. Travel far and travel wide. Make it a cultural learning experience. Observe the trees, the houses, the churches, the temples and talk about similarities and differences. Try different foods, speak to the local people. Let your child always be curious.
Learn more languages
Keep your mother tongue alive. If you are a multilingual household, speak to your child in different languages. Don’t worry, children’s minds are like little sponges. They will have no problems communicating using multiple languages. Teach numbers in different languages, use basic words for food, colors and slowly build up. I need serious effort on this one myself!
What other ideas do you have to teach diversity to your kids?
Navratri, literally meaning “9 nights” is the beginning of the fall harvest, the change of seasons. When we align our system to Nature, we rest in balance. We feel energized, light in our body, and ease in our movements. We will spend the nine divine days of Navratri honoring the victory of positivism over negativity. The victory is of the absolute reality over the apparent duality of self and consciousness.
Whether in silence or active in the world, spend just a few moments to honor yourself and body during these precious nine nights.
We will detox by taking some disciplinary actions like juice detox, khichidi detox, on fruit diet, one day at a time. Traditionally, these days include chanting of divine mother (Eg; Lalita Sahastra namam, Kadgamala, Devi Kavacham, etc), and fasting.
Today I will share my celebration of Navratri, that include bringing the mind, body and spirit in tune.
Self Today is among the first three days of self-purification in which goddess Durga is worshiped in her terrifying, destructive and powerful aspect. We pray to the goddess to destroy our imperfections. We pray to make us pure.
Body See where you can make shifts in your lifestyle habits that allow for your system to rest. Small changes make bigger results. Eat lighter, increase fruits and vegetables, increase water intake, sleep earlier or reduce time in front of the computer or TV. Rest to your digestive, and nervous system, and even eyes can go a long way. Set an intention for these nine days.
Mind These nine day we will be practicing dissolve the discriminating ego, our judging intellect and our doubting mind into Divine Knowledge that makes us hollow and empty to come into awareness of Who Am I.
Self It is with the power of the above that we pray to destroy the negative tendencies of selfishness, jealousy, prejudice, hatred, anger, and ego we hold in our heart and mind.
Body Eating foods that suit our constitution and are gentle to our system along with movement/exercise help to keep the whole body in balance. Proper digestion, and elimination are an important indicator of overall health and well-being.
Mind Meditation, and journal writing are all effective ways of letting go of thoughts and emotions that do not serve us. Practice surrendering the events, thoughts and emotions to the divine which are not in your circle of influence, will help to see the shift in you.
Self We renew our commitment to acquire triumph over all of our negative tendencies.
Body What works for one does not always work for another. Tapping into the wisdom of our own body gives us the guidance to know what works for us. Take note of the foods you eat, and how it makes you feel: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Take note of sleep habits and your daily energy levels. This simple understanding of our body allows us to function optimally; we feel light and energized.
Mind We attract prosperity and abundance and protect courageously the Inner Child to enjoy the journey in this body by dropping the cowardice and weakness.
Self The next three days, we move from self-purification to self- transformation. Our worship is now devoted to Goddess Lakshmi, the prosperity-bestowing form. Devotees pray for removing obstacles and bringing success in their paths.
Body By changing bad habits to good ones come from putting attention on what is already working for you than trying to fix what is not.
Mind Observe the transition of thoughts. Your thought and action affects your cosmos out there. The cosmos around you is what makes your world within you.
Self Goddess Lakshmi does not merely bestow material prosperity, but also grants qualities which we as spiritual seekers require, namely calmness, peace, equanimity, compassion, and love.
Body Today we take the opportunity to practice eating with awareness. So often we stuff food into our mouths while distracted, agitated or hurried. This diminishes the pleasure that food gives us and the nutrition it provides for the body. Take notice of the scent, texture, taste of your food while taking slow, gentle breaths. Place your fork down between bites. Eating with awareness is a form of love and compassion towards your body.
Mind Surrender to the universe that bursts open with Universal Inspiration to create newness with every breath.
Self Today is the third and final day which honors the Mother Divine as Lakshmi, the energy that manifests as the complete well-being of a person.
Body In our diets, the more we eat from natural, whole food sources, the less we require in overall food intake. In our lives, the more we engage in activities of service and truth, the less we require in life. Keep food and life simple. Continue with yoga/ Exercise.
Mind Observe the tendencies of mind clinging to the negativity, angry about the past and anxious about the future. Realize that you can drop them and can move forward.
Self We moved from self-purification to self-transformation and now we prepare ourselves to receive self-knowledge. Our prayer is devoted to Goddess Saraswati. She is the one who gives the essence (Saara) of the self (Swa), the one who gives the essence of self. She is the bestower of the true light of knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
Body Keeping a gentle awareness of our body gives us the understanding of what foods best suit us, how much sleep gives us adequate rest, how much exercise or movement provides energy, and those activities that uplift our spirit. Take this knowledge of yourself as a toolbox for well-being. This toolbox and all the knowledge in it is yours, and it’s the duty of self-knowledge to always be there for you.
Mind We surrender our doubting mind, judging intellect and Discriminating Ego to dissolve into recognizing and being whole and complete and balanced.
Self Today, we continue our worship for Goddess Saraswati. We first have to purify ourselves to get to the path of wisdom. Goddess Saraswati bestows the shakti (energy) to devotees so that they can attain knowledge.
Body Take a moment in the day or just before going to bed to check in with yourself of physical and mental/emotional symptoms as indicators of what is going on in the body and mind. Physical symptoms are bodily sensations– Imbalance: heaviness, sluggishness, weakness. Balance: energy, stamina, steady breathing. Mental/Emotional symptoms are feelings, thoughts– : tense, restless, agitated. Balance: calm, relaxed, focused
Mind In order to merge in to our pure self we release our weak self that attracts violence and abuse in any form.
Self Today is the final day which honors Goddess Saraswati. She is often depicted as being seated on a rock. Knowledge, like a rock, is steadfast support. She plays the veena, a musical instrument, which mellifluous notes bring harmony and peace to the mind. Similarly, spiritual knowledge brings relaxation and celebration to ones’ life.
Body The nine days of Navratri gives us the opportunity to pause, reflect and reset our mind, body and self. With the help of the traditions, masters and powerful goddess energies, we set clear intentions, put forth attention and receive the biggest gift of all: knowledge of the Self. The simplicity of knowing the appropriate foods and exercise for our body and the correct practices for our mind brings assurance and the confidence that no other type of knowledge provides. With renewed energy and knowledge, we are able to move ahead.
Mind In these nine days we dissolved into the divine by dropping the discriminating ego, judging intellect that separates us from others and conquering the doubting monkey mind. Let’s pray to the DIVINE MOTHER to keep us on this practice though out.
The 9 days lead us to the celebration of Dussehra, the day of victory of Goddess Durga over the demon Mahishaasur. For the spiritual seeker, misery in the mind is the true fight or conflict. We dedicate our life to spiritual practices, service, Satsang (being with likeminded people) and knowledge as the way to overcome this conflict. We become victorious and feel full in celebration of life.
Wanting, Doing and knowing of the self are all manifestations of the same energy that is YOU. At any given time one of these will dominate.
When the ‘Wanting’ dominates then we will be experiencing sorrow and sadness.
When ‘Doing’ dominates then we will experience the anxiety and attachment to results.
When ‘Knowing’ dominates we will experience the awareness and happiness.
Last but not least when our ‘Wanting’ and ‘Doing; are dedicated to the highest good of society and to serve humanity our consciousness automatically elevate and self-knowledge will day.
Durgamadhavi Mamidipalli is a certified yoga teacher, Marma therapist, Relationship and Spiritual coach. In 2013, Durga took the leap of faith and founded Be Free Now LLC by leaving her flourishing career in corporate to do what she loves doing the best healing and serving the World. Through her coaching and other modalities she is able to assist others in getting in touch with their innermost being and through a deeper knowing within themselves, eventually feel empowered. The awakening love and joy they experience within themselves will continue to grow through sharing.” You can connect with her at www.befreecoaching.com https://www.facebook.com/befreecoachingandhealing/
People’s excitement on viewing the solar eclipse that occurred on August 21, 2017, brought back my lunar eclipse experience. Viewing an eclipse, Solar or Lunar, total or partial, is no doubt an exciting event! Certainly, once in a lifetime experience. You have to be in the right place at the right time. But, in Indian culture, eclipses had certain superstitious beliefs. As a kid, talking and learning about eclipses were fascinating for me. But my parents restricted me from viewing the eclipse as it might be harmful to the eyes.
Mostly during an eclipse, I would stay at home with my working mom as schools would declare it as Holiday. Yet, sometimes I manage to sneak out and try viewing the eclipse. However, if it’s solar or lunar eclipse it always seems like an overcast day, perhaps a bit eerie, with the sun not shining as brightly.
Eclipse Rituals Followed in Indian Culture:
I wasn’t credulous enough to believe in the eclipse rituals knowing that eclipses are caused when these heavenly bodies, namely the sun, moon and the earth cross each other’s path. Nothing changed my perspective of not caring about the superstitions associated with the eclipse. Until I got pregnant!
When I was 8 months pregnant on April 4, 2015, a Lunar eclipse occurred in India and the beginning of the eclipse was at 3.47 pm and it ended at 7.32 pm. I was supposed to adhere to lots of do’s and don’ts during an eclipse as per my family’s advice. Even though I am aware that the stories and beliefs are myths, caring for a tiny human being inside me became cause for fear.
My pregnancy days made me weak. I decided not to look for explanations that question my baby’s safety. So my pregnancy brain worked in a way to believe the scary stories of viewing the eclipse.
My family’s rules for this day –
” Do not cook or light a matchstick” – because the child would bear some burn scars.
“Don’t view the eclipse or step outside in the sun”- because if a woman steps out during an eclipse, her child will be born with marks all over his/her body.
“Do not cut or stitch anything, not to hold a pen, keys or any sharp object in my hand!” – because chances are that the child will be born with a cleft lip.
“No reading or browsing” – because the child will be born with eye problems or eye deformity.
” No eating or drinking anything” – because any food cooked or eaten while an eclipse happens will be poisonous and impure.
Finally, they decided it would be better if I stayed in a room, with the windows locked (covered with dark curtains). I wondered how would I spend about 4 hours sitting idle inside a room without eating, drinking, reading, browsing etc. They suggested I should rest or sleep.
Sleep I did, but not too long especially when my family advised me only to sleep. It was the longest afternoon of my life. Fortunately, I had my child’s company who were listening to me from my womb. As the time approached the end of the lunar eclipse I was on a verge to break the door and get out. Finally, the lunar eclipse ended and the moon is out of the Earth’s shadow as am I out of my room. At last, I had to take a head shower and worship the God and I thank him for helping me to successfully complete the eclipse ritual. I felt relieved.
Putting my baby first:
I was not happy by playing dumb believing the myths but I remained satisfied for being a good mother. My mother-in-law had no intention to stop me from seeing the eclipse other than caring for her grand kid’s well being and I respect her love. I chose to sleep over my logical-thinking out of love and respect for my baby and mother in law.
Ancient belief associated with Eclipse:
Later I tried to understand why these events were such a big deal to elders. Eclipses were considered to be an important event from ancient times. Especially people who worshiped the sun considered the eclipse as a negative force which plunges the earth into darkness. In the middle of the day, the sun suddenly going dark is viewed as a bad omen. Which could be a frightening experience. I don’t want to be a quintessential rebel and judge my Elders’ belief. While science has given the perfect explanation for the natural phenomenon like Solar and Lunar eclipse, religion always chooses to lie in the domain of faith in the unknown rather than accepting the facts to usher in a change.
What was your experience on eclipse watching? Do you have any restrictions or family ritual to follow during an eclipse? Share your stories with me .
Sindhuja Kumar is a proud mom and a lifestyle blogger living in Connecticut, USA and origin from Tamilnadu, India. She is happily married and nothing excites her more than being a mom. She blogs to keep herself sane, more or less writing about positive parenting adventures, DIY Craft tutorials & scrumptious recipes that empowers every mom and woman to stay inspired and living an elegant life in a creative way. Check her work @ PassionateMoms.
I never thought I would marry a foreigner but there I was. I sat on the pull-out bed in the dark. Alone. In a foreign country. Where did my boyfriend go?
I thought when someone said they loved you it should be the happiest moment. Thankfully he came back, the light shining bright to my unaccustomed eyes. A small red box was in his hands.
And got down on one knee. My heart jumped to my throat. “Will you marry me?” he asked, accent thick.
In shock and smiling, I said, “Yes.” But before you can marry your international delight, there’s something you should know.
What It Means To Marry A Foreigner
A dream Life. But…
We all want live happily ever after, right? Sure, our dreams are different. I want to be a writer. You may want to be an engineer, or travel the world. Or some just want to find their tall, dark and handsome prince.
Without expecting to I found my mine, and it has been the greatest ten years of my life. But it wasn’t always easy.
Advantages to Marrying A Foreigner
Today’s world seems to be against the foreign man. Some are afraid to let him in. And marriage is already difficult without adding a different culture.
But, there are advantages.
Explore new food.
Learn a new language.
Meet fascinating people.
More opportunities for travel
See amazing cities and nature.
Learn about the country your loved one is from.
Meeting your future spouse’s family introduces you to a new way of life.
And the best part is your future kids would benefit from learning from combined cultures.
It’s a win-win situation, in theory ! However, you should know something.
You will be wrong. Often !
The Reality When You Marry a Foreigner
Marriage is difficult, that’s no surprise. Part of the difficulty is learning to accept differences, and marrying someone from another country comes packaged with changes.
They have a unique belief system and may not be afraid to point how they believe your culture is wrong. And it’s not just your spouse.
Your in-laws may be worried if you don’t take your kid outside with a red bracelet or necklace to protect your baby from a stranger giving an ‘evil eye’. Or you all may not agree on what is best to feed your child.
And while fighting for your beliefs is fantastic and needed, sometimes the best action is acceptance. Being wrong. It’s part of maturity. And an important lesson for children. How do you find that balance of the advantages and disadvantages ?
Photo by Anne Edgar on Unsplash
Ways to Deal With Cultural Differences
Every relationship needs compromise. A little give and take. It may take time to discover which compromise works and is an evolving process, but it is a great feeling once you do.
You may have to not give your child peanut butter that your child loves if you spouse is against it for personal health beliefs. It may be difficult, but they will do the same for you next time you are against something.
Be Willing To Learn
Study language, and cultures, especially your future spouse’s.
There is an app called Duolingo where you can learn over five languages at an easy but fast pace. If you can’t travel you can video chat and give his loved ones a tour of your home and life.
If possible, after you marry a foreigner, visit other countries. Studying is well but there is something special about seeing and smelling new sights for the first time yourself. Plus, there is no better way to get to know your spouse than through his family. Who doesn’t love embarrassing baby pictures of their spouse?
It may take a while, but saving up for this important trip is worth it. Be sure to take a couple weeks off to see the sights and get used to the time change.
Take Time to Breathe
Learning about cultures can be stressful. Meeting family members can be terrifying. And being wrong or being accused of being incorrect is difficult. Sometimes you need to take deep breaths to calm your body and mind.
Go somewhere alone and take deep breaths. Or even out of the house, and listen to the silence. Or do a hobby you love. Just take a moment to get away and be you.
Acceptance is KEY
We can believe we are right so strongly that we will fight to the ends of the earth. Then find out we were wrong. This is the time to step back and admit our mistake. It may seem obvious but once you’re in that situation, it is very hard.
But in marriage it is vital.
Sometimes you may have to lose an argument. Yet, accepting that your partner or their family is right, or thinks they’re right, will save you many headaches and heartaches.
Every country is unique, incredible and right. Including you and yours. Marrying a foreigner can be the best choice you ever make.
Follow Your Heart. Accepting how people from other cultures, including your partner, have different views than you is a great start to a happy marriage. So, if your heart is filled with love, take that chance. Let them get down on one knee and as the question you’ve been waiting for.
Marry your foreigner. Just understand they will be wrong. And so will you. But it’s worth every moment!
Jewel is a fiction writer, wife to a serious comedian and a mother to two lovely munchkins. You can find her at http://writeawaymommy.com Every mother can write!
A few weeks before I got married, I had an engagement ring,my first marital symbol . The first day I wore it, It drew too much attention. Friends and strangers called it out with equal exuberance.
They held my hand and ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ about the sparkling stone and wanted to know everything about my “love story”. It felt like I had announced my wedding on prime time TV. It made me way too conscious. So, after a few days, I hid it in my purse.
Following the wedding, I was adorned with the Mangal Sutra. I willingly wanted to wear it as part of the wedding ceremony. It was my homage to tradition.
Jasmine flowers in my hair and Mehendi in my hands, this was part of the quintessential wedding fantasy. I had unknowingly nurtured this dream since I was a little girl. But within a few days, the black and gold chain, as well as the shiny engagement ring, were both forsaken in an obscure corner of the dresser drawer.
Significance of Mangalsutra in India
In India, when women get married, they wear a Mangal Sutra. It is a simple chain made of gold with black beads woven into it. But, it is no ordinary chain. In it is packed centuries of tradition and history.
It is the upholder of virtue, a cornerstone of social norm and a shining symbol of loyalty. You may grudge it, seeing it as a weapon that men use to make sure their women are branded as theirs. Or you may revere it as a reminder of one’s change in identity, the first step of a new journey together in life. No matter your viewpoint, one thing is for sure, you may not ignore it.
Significance of Rings in America
When I came to America, instead of the chains, I witnessed rings. The symbol of a marital bond was shared here by men and women. Here, the ring was the sign of a couple’s commitment to one another. Single people filtered eligible men or women they might see at the bar, grocery store or random meetup group by a quick, expert glance at the ring finger.
Men and women thus make sure their spouses are not exposed to roving eyes and unwelcome advances. The power of the diamond studded metal ring ensures couples are able to a secure, UN-threatened, marital life.
My Real Marital Identification
Initially, there were some occasions like the annual Diwali celebration, a guilt-induced temple visit, or a friends baby shower for which I frantically looked for the ring or the chain and wore them for an hour or two. But as the years went by, I realized I had no use for them.
It is not that I don’t like jewelry, I do. My drawers were filled with earrings – long ones, terracotta ones, gold ones, beaded ones. I used to purchase little trinkets from all the places I traveled to. I had a necklace from Peru, a bracelet from Amsterdam, a pendant from Arizona. But the charm of all these was that they didn’t need to stay on me forever. After a few hours, I could put them back in the jewelry case and get back to an unencumbered life.
Wearing stone studded metal rings on my finger all the time got in the way of me cooking, cleaning dishes and daily ablutions. It was too much trouble.
As for the chain, it swung about when I went running, slipped when I went swimming and itched when it was a hot day. So I discarded them both in the 2*2 foot locker of my bank. I might indulge in cosmetic jewelry every now and then, but I don’t bother with the ‘real’ stuff anymore.
If you see me now, nothing sets me apart from a merry spinster. Well, nothing other than the baby weight that is sticking to me like a piece of discarded chewing gum on hair. If you are wondering whether my husband ever worries about romping men hitting on me because of the want of a chain or a ring, rest assured.
For one, he doesn’t wear one either for similar reasons. And secondly, he has nothing to worry about.
I have a better symbol of being ‘taken’ that I carry around with me all the time; My cheerio infested, melted crayon marked, sticky candy filled, eight-seater minivan.
What is your marital identification ?
Sandhya Acharya, author of the best selling children’s book the Big Red Firetruck grew up in Mumbai, India and now lives in the Bay Area. She worked as a financial professional and now pursues her passion for writing. She is also an amateur runner, a dance enthusiast and loves reliving her childhood through her young sons. Her work has appeared in NPR(KQED), ThriveGlobal, Peacock Journal and India Currents among others. She blogs regularly at www.sandhyaacharya.com
It took a letter to a bishop and a mountain of paperwork to marry my husband. He’s Catholic; I’m Methodist.
Both are Christian religions, so I’m hesitant to even call us an interfaith family, but you would be surprised how different we are. Years ago, I would have had to convert to be married “in the Church” as it’s called. Instead, I went to classes, met with a priest, and—here’s the kicker—agreed to raise my future children Catholic.
In Southwest Virginia, where I was raised, Catholics were a mysterious “other”. I knew Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists of all varieties. However, it was more common to find someone who believed in speaking in tongues than the literal transformation of bread and wine to blood and flesh.
I had exactly one self-identifying Catholic classmate. She and her siblings represented my sum knowledge of the entire religion. “She’s Catholic,” people would whisper.
Years later, I had to break the news to my family that I was not only dating a Yankee, but a Catholic. Fortunately, he’s a likable guy, so when he asked my dad for permission to marry me, my father said Okay. (Yes, I know, it’s the 21st century. No, not asking was not an option.)
We planned a wedding that incorporated both our faiths, performed by a Catholic priest (my husband’s uncle) in a Methodist Church. The entire thing was fraught with confusion.
“Why don’t you get married outside?” my mom asked.
“Because you have to perform the ceremony in a church,” I answered. “Sacred ground or something.”
“The outdoors—made by God—isn’t sacred enough?”
At the rehearsal, the priest told the bridesmaids to reverence the cross. They looked at him blankly. When he learned there were no chairs for the bride and groom to sit in during the ceremony, he looked like we were speaking in tongues. “Do you plan to stand the entire time?” he asked.
“It usually only takes twenty minutes,” I said. My bridesmaids nodded.
“My homily is that long,” he said. “I guess I can cut it down.” and we survived the wedding just fine!
When The Children Came
We breezed along just fine as an interfaith couple—mostly because we spent very little of our 20s attending any church. But when our children arrived, the slight differences in our faiths became more and more pronounced.
My family members could not serve as official godparents to my daughters. Instead, we had to select one Catholic godparent and relegate my family to the role of spiritual advisers. The distinction – though subtle – ruffled me quite a bit.
In an effort to “raise our kids Catholic,” we began attending mass. I became more and more irritated each time I had to stand in the aisle while the rest of my family went up for communion. I attend mass more than most Catholics, but there I was waiting for everyone to walk past me—or worse, climb over me.
Someone eventually realized how alienating this could be, and my local church now allows those not receiving communion to walk forward, cross their arms, place them against their chest, and receive a blessing from the priest.
Young children receive this same blessing before they’re old enough for their First Communion. I’m happy to see some inclusive progress. This year, however, marked the biggest hurdle in our interfaith happiness with my oldest daughter starting Catholic education classes.
It came to me to drive her to church after school every Monday. I had to ensure she completed every homework assignment, the answers to which I sometimes didn’t know. “Ask your father,” I’d say. “I’m not Catholic.”
After asking a question about Penitence or Purgatory, she asked where Jesus was from.
“Bethlehem,” my husband answered.
“Seriously?” I said. “Your parents paid for nine years of private Catholic school and that’s the best you can come up with? Jesus was from Nazareth.”
“Mommy, you don’t believe in Jesus,” my daughter said.
My mouth fell open as various snarky responses flew through my head ! My husband corrected her but the more my daughter learned about Catholicism, the less she seemed to understand me.
I worry what she will think next year when we walk to the front of the church and she receives a communion wafer, and I, like her little sister, wait as the priest makes the sign of the cross on my forehead.
In some ways, my religion is too similar to hers to explain the differences. She will only know this: My mom is not like the rest of us. Will she think I am somehow less? I often worry that if we’re not careful, I may become “the other” in my own family.
[bctt tweet=”Being a part of an interfaith family was not an issue … until we had kids! ” username=”contactrwc”]
My hope though is that being raised in an interfaith household will make my daughters more open minded and accepting of other religions—just as being in an interfaith marriage has helped me embrace differences.
Though a Southerner at heart, Kathryn Hively lives with her husband and two young daughters in New Jersey. Her blog Just BE Parenting promotes non-judgmental parenting and celebrates families in all forms. You can find her on Twitter here when she’s avoiding the dishes. Her work has also appeared in Scary Mommy, mom.me, Ravishly, and the Mighty, among others.