This past weekend, Sheena and Dipti got the chance to be a part of something very unfamiliar to them but at the same time ended up being such a pleasant experience for so many reasons.
Dipti was asked by her close friends mom if she would judge a sari draping competition for her and her friends at an event she was hosting. Without hesitation, Dipti said “of course” and pulled Sheena onto the bandwagon. They had no expectations of what the event would be like as they had never done this before so they went in with open minds!
To both of their surprises, it actually ended up being SO MUCH FUN!
First, and most important, all of the ladies were so super grateful that Dipti and Sheena had taken the time out of their evening to come and do this for them. They were so excited to see two young moms who are up to date with South Asian fashion and had so much to share with them. Once the competition started, the aunties immediately channeled their inner fashionista and strutted down a make shift ramp wearing their best draped saris. They had such a ball listening to music, twirling around and enjoying the applause from their friends around the room. Some of the women were literally our grandmother’s age but still had their groove. It was actually refreshing for both Sheena and Dipti to see how much fun these ladies were having even at their age!
The thing that hit Sheena and Dipti hard was that most of the women spoke to them in full blown Gujarati (our mother language), which forced Sheena and Dipti to speak back to them in. By the end of the evening, they realized how little they speak their mother tongue on the daily compared to when they were living at home with mom or speaking to customers or even the staff at Nina Jewelers. This event gave them a chance to touch back to their roots and they realized how good it felt to be talking in their language and how much they missed it.
The competition also featured a question and answer portion, which was Dipti’s favorite part (Sheena couldn’t help but love the aunties walking the cat walk). The questions related back to the tradition of wearing a sari and the women had such different but beautiful answers! One of the questions she loved was, “why do brides wear the color red during their wedding ceremony?” The women talked about how red is a sacred and “pavithra” or “pure” color and a color of love and that we also adorn our Gods in red for that reason. The true answer, which not only surprised everyone, but reminded them of something they already knew, was that astrologically, Mars is the planet connected with marriage, and that it’s red in color, which is why brides wear the color during their ceremony.
It was amazing how Sheena and Dipti were connecting with these women through language, laughter, music, fashion and most importantly, culture. These older women reminded them how far away they have moved from their roots in daily living and how important it is to get back there for themselves and for their kids. They also loved how all these ladies were so interested in what the current fashion trends are, what all the “young” girls are watching, listening to, where they are going, etc. It was an amazing experience to mutually share with them the sheer joy both parties were getting just from connecting with different generations. It made them want to do these events even more! Not for anything else, but to keep our culture alive and be able to pass it on to the kids!
Sheena and Dipti couldn’t help but wonder how they could make this a regular thing – to hang out with our mom’s friends – so that we can all keep our language and traditions alive. Sure, we celebrate Diwali and go to Navratri, but on the regular we rarely see our culture come out in day to day living. When we were with mom, she would only talk to us in Gujurati, she would make us watch her as she cooked full Indian meals, and she used to talk to us constantly about our background, how she grew up, what it means to be Indian, and what traditions we follow and why. But most importantly, no matter how reluctant we were, she dragged us to every Indian event – parties, pujas, garbas, temples – so that we were exposed to as much of our culture as possible. We realized that maybe that’s where we’re lacking – maybe we need to put more of an effort into showing our kids what Indian celebrations and traditions look like – not just the major holidays but even day to day living.
What are you parents doing to keep traditions and culture alive in your kids on a day to day basis? Is it just major holidays or do you do something extra to give the kids that exposure? We’d love love to know!