“The founder of my religion (Sikh) was a guru, Guru Nanak Dav Ji, there’s 10 gurus. It’s been told that he’s walked hundred of thousands of miles from India to Asia and the Middle East. He would happen upon people with different religious beliefs, and one day he ran into a bunch of moguls who were muslims. They were upset because when he was pointing his feet to the east. They believed that God was in the east, so it’s disrespectful to have their feet pointing that way… the some way it would be disrespectful to have your feet point towards a religious text. And the guru responded, ‘then point my feet towards a place where God isn’t present.'”
He was god is formless, shapeless, you can categorize him. It’s about the omniscient. God’s not in the East he’s all around you.
My informant heard this legend from his grandma. He likes this one and stories like this because it’s essentially not just a story, but theres a deeper meaning behind it. A lot of these stories illustrate the practicality of his religion, and he likes that his religion tries to be as practical as possible. There’s a trend about doing things you really need and not just doing things for the sake of doing things. This legend shows their main belief that there are many paths to God, and he is all around us.
This legend is commonly passed down through families, and taught in Sunday Schools for Sikhs.
I felt like this legend was a great story that shows the Sikh’s main belief that God is omniscient and that there are many paths to Him. It was very clear that the story meant a lot to my informant, and he found a lot of identity in his religion. I also think it’s interesting that this story is not written down in any religious text, but instead it’s purely passed down through word of mouth, which is very different from Christianity.
“Chanda Mama Door Ke
Puye Pakaye Bhur Ke
Aap Kaye Taali Mein
Mune Ko De Pyali Mein” (Hindi)
Uncle moon from far away
Is making Puye (dessert) with sugar
You eat in a plate and
give the little child a little plate
This is a lullaby that the informant remembers hearing as a child. His dad mainly sung it to him, although his mom would sing it from time to time too. There was one night that his dad didn’t sing it to him and he couldn’t sleep. The informant said that it reminds him of his childhood now and going to bed. When I asked if there was a deeper meaning to the lyrics, he said that it seemed pretty nonsensical, but he said that it’s significant that you let parents eat first out of respect.
The informant’s parents sung this lullaby to him when he was a child. He said it’s a pretty common song that parents would sing to their children in Indian culture.
When I first asked him what it meant, he said he didn’t know. But when I asked him to type out the lyrics, he started to realize what it meant because he speaks Hindi. I thought this was interesting because the song had simply started to represent a warm feeling of bedtime with parents, rather than what the lyrics actually were talking about.
“There’s a festival we do for new houses. Oh, that’s just… We go in, we set up a fire. The fire just signifies that the prayers we say get lifted up in the air…. yes we do a fire inside. It’s a box made of wood with a fire lit inside. There’s prayers that are said, I only remember one of them. [Click the link below to hear the prayer that he recited to us] There’s a priest that stands next to the fire, and the immediate family make a circle around him. Then everyone else is outside of the circle. The priest says the prayer then everyone else joins them. Each time you say a certain word, you would put a certain type of offering in the fire, like an almond. It’s like food for the gods. These offerings are provided either by the priests of by the immediate family. If provided by the immediate family, the priest has to make it holy.”
Prayer for Hovan
My informant had no idea what it means. He said it’s different from everyday Hindi, and he only knows conversational Hindi.
The ritual happens when someone buys a new house. This ritual happens in order to bless the house.
There is once again a strong theme of family in this ritual, and is very heavily religious. The fact that my informant knew the prayer, but not what it meant, signals that this was more of a tradition for him, than an active practice of faith. It is an interesting liminal period between homes.
“In Asia, all buildings skip the fourth floor when they are numbering their floors.”
My informant said she noticed this when she was in Taiwan since every building followed this custom. She said that it’s because the character four in Mandarin sounds very similar to the character for death.
This is a custom that all buildings follow in Taiwan.
This custom is similar to how some buildings in the U.S. skip the 13th floor. However, since there is a higher chance of buildings to be at least 4 floors, than 13 floors, it’s more prevalent. I also believe that Chinese/Taiwanese people tend to be more superstitious than Americans.
“Ladoo is a common household dessert that moms make. Every mom will make it a little bit differently, but its mainly made out of besan (gram flour), sugar, and ghee (butter).”
My informant told me that he saw the treat as a token from home, since his mom always made it, but he doesn’t know the exact recipe. He also told me that “ladoo” is a name that is also used to make fun of fat people since the dessert is made into round balls. He used to call another girl on his street ladoo because she was fat.
Ladoo is a semi-sweet dessert that is made in a lot of Indian households.
My informant had two more left in a container, so he offered me one for me to taste. I could tell that this dessert meant a lot to him especially now that he was at college and away from home since he rarely got it anymore. My informant’s roommate was also in the room at the time and said that his mom made the same thing too. It tasted semi-sweet, and had a solid, dry, cake texture. I can’t think of any American desserts to compare it to, but I’ve had similar Chinese desserts.