Saturday, July 6, 2013

"Are you going to raise your daughter Indian or American?"

(Our daughter's 21st day punyajanam - "naming ceremony")

A few months ago, one of our distant relatives who is living in the U.S. asked me, "Are you going to raise your daughter Indian or American?"

Hmmm...The first thing that popped into my mind was, since when do we have to choose? She is both. She is South Indian. She is Canadian. We celebrate Diwali and Christmas. We eat Indian and Western food.

The second thing I thought about was, Wait a sec...who's American here? Just because I'm white doesn't mean I'm American!!! (Yes, that's how ignorant these folks were!) I'm Canadian. Canada is in North America. Canadians are not Americans.

I was highly offended by this question and it continued to bother me for several months. But then I asked my friend, who also has an Indian husband, what she thought. She said, "Since they are also raising their son in the U.S., maybe they are asking themselves the same question." And then I relaxed a bit. 

But the question is, why do they think we have to choose one or the other? I'm encountering this problem more and more, which only happens to be from Indians - the extremely traditional types. Not a single Canadian OR American has ever asked me a question like that, even after 7 years. With traditional Indians, however, we have gotten comments like "How can they function with all these cultural differences?" and so on. 

Or is it just curiosity? We have also gotten questions like, "Do you eat two separate dinners?" This question is harmless, and hilarious. My husband is no less of an Indian, and I am no less of a Canadian, for being together. But it works with us because we are both flexible with each other's cultures, and first and foremost we are a good match together.

It may have been asked out of curiosity, but I felt like the whole interaction was laced with judgement, fear, and a little admiration, even. 

I really didn't even know how to answer the question because it never occurred to me, so I just simply said, "She's both.

(Our family attending my cousin's Greek Orthodox baptism, Maya was 6 weeks old)


  1. I have read a few of your posts and find your perspective about Indian culture an interesting read. Inquisitive (some might say interfering ) relatives bother us too. So even if you were from the same caste and region as your hubby-from your arranged/love marriage post I can tell you know what that means. :D You would still get questioned about a lot of things from relatives who mean well. ;)

    How our parents raised us and how we'll raise our kids is bound to be different too even if we are from the same country, region etc etc. Times are different; we rely on the almighty Google for advice while our parents sought advice from elders, relatives, friends.

    Btw your daughter looks adorable. All the best with your blog.

    1. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!
      Yes, I come from a smaller family and nobody has ever questioned me in my entire life, so it definitely been an adjustment! My husband is so used to it that he shuts his ears off, but I'm still not there yet...
      This generation of Indians (my husband's generation) is SO different from previous generations. Many of his friends (as well as him) are modern, but all are from traditional/conservative it is interesting to say the least! Lots of changes..

  2. My boyfriend and I aren't even married yet and we already have to continuously answer this question!

    1. It is such a silly question! We are raising our child as a human being, duh! LOL

  3. OK, I want to ask you something: How do you guys deal with the religion of your child, I mean did you baptize her or not? The thing is that my aunt(who is a devout Christian) is married with a Hindu man and when my cousin was born they baptized him but her in-laws weren't very happy with this. Even now they don't like that my 8 years old cousin attends the church with my aunt although they also teach him about Hinduism and bring him to the temple. How can my aunt's in-laws be pleased? I hope you can give me some advice. ( SORRY IF I HAVE SOME MISTAKES IN MY LANGUAGE BUT I'M NOT AN ENGLISH NATIVE SPEAKER :)) )


      I feel that God is God. Prayer is prayer. Whether you pray to Buddha or Durga or Jesus, it is all worship.
      I did not baptize because we are not actively involved in the church, but I see no harm in it. All these things is meant to protect the child, so it doesn't matter is you do a baptism or a 21st day naming ceremony - the meaning is the same.

  4. I was hunting internet to find the kind of posts you write :) Real life expereiences and no preachings!

    Have gone through several posts since yesterday. Good work! Keep up!


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