A Life of thinking globally, acting locally, and seeking peace internally.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year, New Resolution... New Post

I wanted to do something meaningful with my new year's resolution for 2012. My 2011 resolution was to NOT watch Lord of the Rings (the extended edition, mind you), in the hope that my activism would be less fierce. The reasoning behind this? Perhaps by abstaining, the obsession I have for the saga (in either movie or book form) with its objective to create peace in the world of Middle Earth, would diminish the obsession I have to create peace in mine.

I wanted my 2012 resolution to be something I was for – not something I was against. The reasoning behind this? In 2011, my community was divided by a group of people against things – against providing adequate funding for our public library, against certain lifestyles (our mayor, anyway), against a transit center that would boost the local economy. I wanted my 2012 resolution to be something that looked forward, that would stay with my family in the years to come. The reasoning behind this? I wanted to look to the future, to create a ritual that my first-born can also take with her when she leaves the nest in 2013.

I examined the rituals I have – and some which I no longer hold. As an immigrant, rituals from India are critical in helping me hold on to the cultural connections I have with my mother’s land…such as wearing new clothes on my birthday. If I am lucky, it’s a trendy sari that my mom has sent me - and wrapping the six yards of material in the traditional way also cloaks me in the comforting memories of the garment that she always wears, and keeps me in touch with fashions half way around the globe. As an American seeking to put down roots, rituals acquired in my new homeland help me to acculturate and create a sense of belonging for my family. A family friend of my parents who became a second mother taught me to bake – and each Christmas season, I honor the season of giving as she taught me, by baking various cookies with my children, and sharing the bounty with friends and neighbors (yes, Santa’s Kisses are a favorite!). As a Hindu, rituals assist me in maintaining a link to my faith tradition, since as a minority, one always has to be cautious of not being swept away by the mainstream currents. While the local Hindu temples do a great job of providing rituals relevant to the tradition, not all of us Hindu Americans – even ethnic Hindus – find a connection. Ethnic Hindus from India celebrate festivals and holy days in many different ways, and not all are grounded in religious ceremonies. The pujas done at the temples don’t always make sense to other immigrants in my age bracket – let alone our children, who are often dragged to such services unwillingly. Several years ago, the compositions of a Hindu saint-composer, Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya, helped me to establish a relationship with the divine – through a monthly ritual. A couple who were IT professionals by day were also Carnatic musicians, and gathered a group of interested people every month to teach and sing the words of devotion found in his simple language. While my family still has the bond to the bhakti in Annamacharya’s works, our monthly ritual has ended – our gurus have moved, and the impetus to gather has waned. We also have pages of documents which I helped create – transliterating and translating the many keerthanas we learned over the years from my mother tongue Telugu.

I knew when determining my 2012 resolution that I needed to do something for me, and also something for my kids. And while the monthly singing of the holy hymns is no longer part of our routine, I can create other documents – and re-instate the blog I began more than 3 years ago with an essay about my core beliefs. I – like many others – have made resolutions to be more committed to physical exercise and yoga practice. And I am making one more resolution - to exercise my ability to write and revive the habit of posting to my blog. Happy 2012!