Familial Traditions

“So, my family is pretty religious…I’m not, but my family is. So um, we have festivals, er uh, significant days on which we have Pujas – which are like…basically it’s a name for a prayer. So on days, like the death anniversary of some ancestor – not ancestor – but like grandfather or grandmother, we usually have Pujas, and we pray to the gods for their wellbeing. Um, on birthdays, again, we have Pujas for the birthday person. On…hmm…every time we get a new house, we always have a Puja, followed by a party. Uh, the Puja is just like to, uh, purify the house and things like that – bring good omens to the place. Festivities…hmm, Diwali again, is a huge festival in India. OH! Holi! Wow….Holi is like a…it’s like the biggest…Holi and Diwali are like the two biggest festivals. Holi is like um…there’s a story behind it, but I don’t remember it quite properly, but um…basically people play with color on that day, and they color each other. So this stuff you see out here, like the color run and stuff, uh, I didn’t have that much fun in it; ‘cause like, Holi’s a lot more fun. Because in India, people will fill up like water balloons with color in them and throw them at each other. And it’s really fun…so…and then they have these water pistols – yeah, you guys have those, where they like shoot water at you and basically you get a cold the next day. Um, another festival, we do as a family is…Ganesh. It’s basically the day when the lord, Ganesha, was born. I don’t remember the name of the festival…nevermind…well, they basically make a statue of the god and they basically walk into the ocean and they let the statue sink. It’s supposed to mean something – I don’t know. Um, and then they make these food items called Modaks. I guess you could say they’re like Indian dim sums, only they’re sweet. Yeah…that’s…that’s pretty much it. Then we have the Indian New Year. And my specific like, uh…not caste…my, specific regional New Year involves festivities. However the larger, overall Marathi New Year is called Gudi Padwa.”

From this particular collection piece, the immediate thing that I noticed was something that I find very prevalent in American youth as well – the lack of religious fever. More and more the youth are moving away from staunch religious practices and looking to expand their horizons and learn about the world in a more inclusive way. Also, it is very interesting that my informant had more fun participating in the body coloring festivities of his native culture than he did here at the university. It is my belief that the lack of enthusiasm was due to not having the cultural ties that were involved back home be included in the festivities here. A big thing that I noticed was the two separate New Years. At first I was a little taken aback when I was told about it, but after thinking it through, I released that their are several different “types” of Indians – each with their own identity and set of practices – so it made perfect sense in the end. And after hearing such good things about the Modaks not just one, but two informants, I really want to try some of them!