I was born in America. But, I am Indian. My parents raised me as a Hindu. Curry, Sarees, Pujas, Bollywood. These are all huge components of my culture. My husband Jay, is Puerto Rican. Jay was born and raised as a Christian.
When Jay and I began dating, I introduced him to Indian culture. The food, the music, the language, the whole shebang. He loves the food and has even tried to learn a few of our dances. I embrace his Spanish side as well. I have always been a fan of the food, the culture, and the people. I am surrounded by it. I cook his favorite foods such as Pernil, Arroz con gandules, and Empanadillas. I like to mix it up. I enjoy our cultural differences. Especially through food.
On August 22nd, 2016, Jay and I discovered we were pregnant. We were nervous, but overjoyed. We were so pleased to discover we were bringing a child into this world together. However, we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us. Parenting isn't easy, especially when it is your first time. But, we were ready for the challenges we were about to face.
Fast forward to April 17, 2017. Anaís was born. Our lives changed forever. With both families standing by our side, we knew we were going to have a lot of decisions coming our way.
"What religion is Anaís going to follow?"
"Will she be raised in a Hindu or Christian household?"
"Which culture is she going to be exposed to?"
"What traditions is she going to follow?"
My husband respects my decisions, opinions, and ideas. As I do his. That's one of the biggest reasons on why we get on so well. We compromise, always. No one feels left out or disrespected.
I only had one request, to celebrate her ninth day.
Hindus have a tradition called the ninth day or a Mundan. On day 9 after the baby is born, we shave the newborn's head. I'm sure you are wondering, why are we shaving a baby's head? That's so odd. But doesn't every culture have their own strange traditions?
A huge part of Hinduism is the concept of rebirth. Hindus believe that the newborn's past lives are in their hair. Removing the hair removes undesirable traits from past lives and sets the child free. So on the ninth day after the baby's arrival, the baby's head is shaved. Its a purification process that cleanses the child's body and soul. Then, friends and family gather and shower the mom and her newborn with gifts, money, and food. It's a wonderful celebration filled with music, food, drinks and lots of dancing. It's an Indo-Guyanese version of a baby shower.
My husband happily obliged and we performed the ceremony with bubs.
Mom is a Hindu and dad is Christian. This leaves the question of: "What religion is Anaís, going to follow?" Jay and I are not concerned about it. Although we were both raised with different faiths, it doesn't seem to be a topic in our home. An example of this is our marriage ceremony. On June 10th, 2017, Jay and I got married. A Justice of The Peace performed our ceremony. We wanted to respect the differences in our faiths. The J.O.P was the best way we could meet in the middle and it was perfect for us.
We want Anaís to be a great person and to find her own place in the world. We refuse to force religion on our daughter. All we want for her is to have great morals, values and know right from wrong. As long as Anaís has these qualities, my husband and I are content with the path she chooses to follow.
My husbands family have asked us about the baptism of Anaís. We won't baptize her. It isn't our decision on what religion she chooses to follow. I know of many individuals who were born and raised in one religion, but grew up and discovered another. They changed their entire belief system. I don't want her to feel confined or defined by a religion.
Religious people aren't always the kindest. I've learned this first hand. Many individuals have told us that our daughter won't be a good person if she doesn't have a religion. They then begin to preach about their own. We're offended by the narcissism every time. It's narrow minded and a little insane to think a religion determines how good of a person you are.
If Anaís wants to steal parts of Hinduism and Christianity, and mix it all together, she can. If she chooses to abandon both and become a Buddhist, then so be it. Even if she chooses not to follow a religion at all, we will still love and support her.
I understand parents guide their children. We are supposed to show them the ropes and for many families, a part of that rope is religion. However, each family is unique. In our family, we choose not to focus on faith or religion. We don't talk down on it but we don't boast about it either.
My husband and I will show her where she's from. She's a beautiful mix of South East Asian and Puerto Rican. She has her whole life ahead of her and she will see it from many different perspectives. I will teach her Hindu, Creole, how to cook curry and about my favorite Bollywood movies. I will dress her in Sarees and Indian gold. My husband will teach her Spanish, play her his favorite songs and teach her how to dance. We will both teach her how to cook Spanish food. When she's older we'll visit Puerto Rico and Asia. She will know the two beautiful worlds she comes from.
The intention of this post is not to offend. I'm sure many people feel better as a person because they are religious. But, that's not the case for everyone. I'm sharing our opinion on the matter and how we choose to raise our daughter.
Jay and I want Anaís to be a great person. Not because someone is watching her but because she feels it's the right thing to do. We want her to help others. A person who isn't selfish, but knows when to put herself first. Someone who bring happiness to others. We don't want her to weighed down or oppressed by society, religions, and other people's ideals. My husband and I are raising her in a caring, loving and happy home. That's all that matters to us.
I'm not trying to talk anyone out of religion or shaming them for having one. Love your babies! Give them all the snuggles and cuddles and teach them to be good people. Don't let them believe that someone else determines how they live their life and where they'll end up after they die. Don't let them feel trapped. Don't make them have to fit into a mold, this won't help them grow. If your children are happy, they will go on to do great things. If they get older and feel they want god by their side, then so be it. Give them the tools and let them make their own decisions. If you put your all into them, you won't need to worry about them failing.
Have faith in your kids.