Ever wondered what on earth it all means?
Why does grandma sing mantra at 5am? Why do I have a mandir in my house? Why does the house smell incessantly of incense? What’s with all the god-goddess figures? Why do I have to eat ‘fasting food’ every other week? What do all these endless ceremonies mean? Yoga is just for hippies, right?
In this new Uncovered series, we’ll be exploring the Indian Spiritual Traditions that have followed our generation to the West.
As a curious first generation British Indian, I’m aware that some traditions which are practiced by our parents are on the verge of being lost. I’m also deeply sure that there must be a reason why they’ve survived for hundreds of years. That in their essence they give nourishment, inner peace, philosophy and understanding to the meandering path and challenges of life.
Though the conversations I’ve often had goes something like this:
“What does this tradition mean?” I ask.
“This is just what we do, now go get me a coconut so I can drive my car over it for luck”
“What’s the origin of that ceremony?” I ask.
“This is just how it is beta, we’ll be here for the next 4 hours so get comfortable. PS you can sit on the floor by the smoking fire in that sari!”
Growing up in a western education system which is very much based on the needs of knowing not just “what?” but also “why?” – many of us critical-thinking minds soon lose touch with some of the most beautiful traditions our culture offers us. Meanwhile, these traditions are ones which other countries are celebrating and finding ‘their missing piece’ in.
I’ve lived and travelled through 35 countries and can tell you, it’s spread far and wide. People our age are adopting and adapting to the things many Western-Indians view as “outdated”. Just scroll through your newsfeed or walk down the streets and you can see yoga and Indian spirituality is booming across the world.
And yet it seems like we’re all at crossroad finding glory in each other’s cultures, which is beautiful but at the cost of sometimes recklessly forgetting our own.
To be able to keep our traditions and our heritage alive as we live in this incredible time and melting pot of countries, we need to know:
- Why we do them?
- What is their philosophical, spiritual or religious origins?
- How can they be beneficial?
In the Uncovered series, I’m committed to finding and giving you answers, if you give me questions!
Let’s ask, look, seek and learn to keep the fire of this beautiful culture we have, alive. It seems we have all the tools to enjoy the fruits of our tradition in little lessons which can help us to live more harmonious, fulfilling and peaceful lives.
If only we take a moment to uncover how!
Please get in touch, comment, reply:
- Is there anything you’ve always wondered about certain Indian traditions?
- What has been your reaction to asking why with your older generation?
- Are you concerned about losing touch with your roots?
- If you’re a parent, how do you pass on this information?
- Would you prefer a weekly newsletter or video?
Photo credit: Denis Oliveira