Hindu celebrations.: Becoming Minnesotan

Deepak Nath, c.1999.
  • Name - Deepak Nath
  • Age at interview - 23
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - Second Generation American
  • Date of Interview - 03.20.1997
  • Shanku Sthapana for Hindu Temple, Maple Grove, Minnesota, May 30, 2004.
    Shanku Sthapana for Hindu Temple, Maple Grove, Minnesota, May 30, 2004.

    We Are Here

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for

    devout
    essence
    vow
    exile

    Background Information

    Many Indian immigrants participate in religious organizations or samaj and social clubs that bring together members of their individual cultural group.  These groups plan events to celebrate their traditional language, food, music, and other cultural practices from their home regions in India.  These groups also celebrate traditional cultural and religious holidays, including Rakhi, a Hindu and Sikh festival primarily observed in North India, which celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters, Holi, a spring festival observed by Hindus, Sikhs which is celebrated with the throwing of colored powder and water and with bonfires, and Diwali, an important five-day festival in Hinduism, Sikhism and Jainism, popularly known as the Festival of Lights.  Lord Ram, or Rama, is a Hindu deity, the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu.

    To learn more about Asian Indian history and culture, visit our Asian Indian Community page.

    • Chapter 1
    • Chapter 2
    • Chapter 3

    Download Deepak Nath 6
    2:14 Minutes | 2.15Mb

    Transcription

    Narrator: Deepak Nath (DN)

    Interviewer: Polly Sonifer (PS)

    PS:  You said your mother was very religious. Did you watch her practice religious ceremonies at home?

    DN:  Ceremonially, we were very, very devout.

    PS:  Can you describe some of those for me?

    DN:  Off the top of the head - and I'm sure more and more of these will come off as I speak about them. My favorite one - and don't tell my sister I said this –

    PS:  She might read it.

    DN:  – has to be the religious, I don't think it's a holiday, but it's a ceremony, Rakhi.  That ceremony itself, I believe, symbolizes the true essence of family and love, and it's, to me, the most beautiful ceremony that I know of. That ceremony is actually a vow that a brother takes to protect his sister with his own life.

    Every year - I believe it's in August - we do the ceremony. The ceremony involves the sister taking a string and wrapping it around her brother's wrist and her brother giving some form of a gift to his sister, the sister also feeding something sweet into his mouth. And I believe there's some deep religious reasons why those are the procedures, but that's how we've adopted it. And the whole purpose behind this is to create more of a bond between the brother and sister, because once the parents are not in the picture anymore, who else do you have left in your family? It's your brother and sister. And I'm sure there's also even a cultural thing, a cultural basis to all this back in olden-day India, where brothers and sisters had to take care of each other in some way.

    But each year I have taken a vow to protect my sister with my life, and I think that's beauty. That symbolizes everything about family and love that you can possibly have all in one simple ceremony, simply tying a string around the wrist, kind of like a bracelet, and the giving of gifts, more even this is the reason of why you're doing it.

    Continues in Chapter 2


    Download Deepak Nath 7
    1:1 Minutes | 0.98Mb

    Transcription

    Narrator: Deepak Nath (DN)

    DN:  That's my personal favorite one. Some other ones: Holi is, I believe, the celebration of color. That's a very fun holiday in India.  The country as a whole stops, and everyone - it's like one big party. It's like Mardi Gras in India, and instead of beads like you do in Mardi Gras, it's actually throwing colored powders and colored water on everyone. And so you wear white, and by the end of that day, or actually within minutes, you're covered in dyes, in red, green, blue, orange dyes and everything, and there's water guns and people are singing and dancing and having a great time. I think that's great.

    When I was a child that was my favorite holiday, just because I got to have water guns every year. To me, I just wanted the water gun that I would get. My grandparents would always bring me a water gun from India. That was my big thing, I had to get a water gun every year, the new and improved model. It was the bigger and the better one every year.

    Continues in Chapter 3


    Download Deepak Nath 8
    1:1 Minutes | 0.98Mb

    Transcription

    Narrator: Deepak Nath (DN)

    DN:  There's another festival, Diwali, which is coined the "Festival of Lights." It actually is the celebration of the homecoming of Lord Ram.  He was exiled into the forest for fourteen years, and after fourteen years, when he came back out, the people turned every light on so he could find his way back to the city. And so now what they do is, every year in November, to celebrate Diwali, or the homecoming of this god, everyone keeps on all the lights, they let off fireworks, and it's a big joyous occasion.  Because they're celebrating the homecoming of a god.

    And so that, to me, was also very a very fun one when I was a child; it was because I got to play with fireworks.  But when I got older, it was just the beauty of it, that there was really a history to that, too. Just like how Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, this is like the Indian Christmas. They celebrate the rebirth - I don't know if you could call it Easter or not, but the homecoming of a god.


    Related Glossary Terms

    basis

    Noun:  An underlying condition or circumstance.

    bond

    Noun:  An agreement or friendship that unites individuals or peoples into a group.

    cultural

    Adjective:  Relating to the traditions and customs of a group or society.

    devout

    Adjective:  Devoted to religion or to religious feelings and duties; absorbed in religious exercises; given to devotion; pious; reverent; religious.

    essence

    Noun:  The inherent nature of a thing or idea; a significant feature of something.

    exile

    Noun:  1. The state of being banished from one's home or country.  2. Someone who is banished from one's home or country.

    Verb:  To send into exile.  (exiles, exiling, exiled)

    Hindu

    Adjective:  Of or relating to Hinduism, a religion, philosophy and culture native to India, characterized by the belief in reincarnation and a supreme oneness personified in many forms and natures.

    Noun:  People who believe in Hinduism.

    occasion

    Noun:  1. Special event or function.  2. A particular happening; an instance or time when something occurred.

    practice

    Noun:  1. A customary action, habit, or behavior; a manner or routine.  2. The observance of religious duties which a church requires of its members.

    Verb:   To perform or observe in a habitual fashion.  (practices, practicing, practiced)

    procedure

    Noun:  A series of small tasks or steps taken to accomplish a task.

    symbolize

    Verb:  To represent; to serve as a sign of.  (symbolizes, symbolizing, symbolized)

    vow

    Noun:  A solemn promise to perform some act or behave in a specified manner.

    Citation

    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 629