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How to Raise Hindu Children?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous in Parenting' started by Marisa, Dec 18, 2007.

  1. Marisa

    Marisa New IL'ite

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    Now, this might be an odd question, but I'm not Indian, so I need extra help. I feel a lot of respect (and longing) towards Hinduism but I haven't grown with it. I always wonder where I would turn in face of a really difficult situation, and I'm sure that the religious practice that would bring me solace would be that of my own childhood. I want my (upcoming) children to have that. To have a safe tradition to turn to. I also feel that Hinduism is wide enough, and on that regard, simpler than my own religion, so I like it.

    But from what I've seen in my family, religion seems to be passed a lot more from the mother than the father. And I can cook Indian food and wear saris and light the lamp once and again but that's not it. They can have coloring books about the Ramayana and listen to devotional music a lot, but I feel that there's something really big that is missing. I feel it even in my everyday life, before kids. I can't pass onto them something that I do not have. I don't feel comfortable asking my in-laws for guidance because I don't want to seem like some kind of Hindu wannabe. But my husband doesn't know what I'm missing either.

    Right now all I do is try to find out when there's an important date and cook an extra-nice Indian meal for it. Sometimes my husband lets me know that his family doesn't celebrate that particular thing, or if they do, he doesn't know how, except for the food, so I just make food. When my MIL visited us, I sat next to her while she did pujas and watched, but that's all. They did a lot more stuff once I left (I had to travel). Sometimes I wish I had a cookbook of sorts to learn how to go through my everyday life like I learned to make Indian food.
     
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  2. Rajul

    Rajul New IL'ite

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    Read and understand Bhagwad Geeta you will learn lot related to practical way.
     
  3. Neesha

    Neesha Senior IL'ite

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    Hi Marissa

    Check out the post on religion and spirituality especially articles by Chitvish. To teach children you first have to understand the principles. Hinduism with its various branches, deities, rituals etc may seem confusing so first read up on the basics.
    Hinduism or the correct term Sanathana Dharma is a way of life. You have to live your life according to the rules of your role/s that is the dharma of a daughter, wife, mother, employee. Concepts you must understand
    There is only one God - that pervades the entire universe and each and every atom. God is formless but we give Him form to explain his functions or roles like Creator, Preserver, Destroyer.
    Avatar - when there is decline of righteousness - God has to come to earth to live among man to teach them and put them again on the correct Godly path. God then takes form. For example Rama came down to rid the earth of evil (demons) and teach man how to live an ideal life, then in a later era Lord Krishna took birth and he taught one pointed devotion.
    Karma- every action has a reaction, what you sow so shall you reap.
    Reincarnation - the goal in life is to go back to the source,ie. God. Sometimes it takes us many lifetimes. You are born again to pay back your debts, to overcome the bad qualities that you did not get rid of in your previous births.

    Hinduism goes beyond clothing, food and rituals.
    However it is rich in symbolism.
    For example, lighting the lamp is a ritual that is done in the morning and/or evening. It is only meaningingful if the person understands - light is knowledge, it dispells ignorance and darkness- as I light the lamp, Lord fill me with light to dispell ignorance and dark qualities of envy, greed, anger etc. Fill my house with your divine effulgence so that your presence is felt by whoever enters my home.

    Just some aspects to whet your appetite so that you can continue asking questions and looking for answers.
    I'm not an expert, I too have lots of questions and am still learning but I too would like to impart clear knowledge to my children so that as they go through life they can cling to the strength of their religion, and seek God's solutions.

    Wishing you success in your endeavours.
    Regards Neesha
     
  4. aishu22

    aishu22 Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Marisa,
    I'm really impressed with all your post.First post that touched me and every Ilite was Your request to help regarding ur MIL visit.Now its abt hindusim to teach the children.WOW , Hats off to you.

    I'm not a great scholar to tell you about Hinduism, but please read the Posts by our Dear Chitvish - on Hindu Culture.There are more learned people in our site to impart and clear any kinda doubts or questions you have.

    So im sure you will feel comfortable after taking assitance from them.

    Sorry for not being much of help to you, but i sincerely wanted to acknowledge ur interest..so thats Y i budged in.
     
  5. Shanvy

    Shanvy IL Hall of Fame

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    hi Marissa,

    Your thought deserves :hatsoff:hatsoff.

    I think we as parents, should bring up our kids as good human being. religion, culture will take care of itself. when you are so involved, you will definitely know how to bring them...by instinct, you don't need manuals for this. As I always say there is no fool proof method for parenting, it is always trial and error as no two kids are the same....

    Enjoy your pregnancy and welcome to the world of parenting and motherhood.....
     
  6. Marisa

    Marisa New IL'ite

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    Thanks a lot for your replies. I'd like to believe that I understand the basic (or not so basic) tenets of Hinduism, so on that side I'm covered. And I really like the approach of teaching kids through approachable stories, something I see a lot in Hinduism, especially with so many stories of the lords as children themselves, and mischievous at that! I'm also lucky enough to have married into a Carnatic music family so I know they'll get lots of great influences from there.

    I think that what I'm looking for is somewhere else, though. It boils down to what we, as people, resort to when things are not going well. When life is hard and things don't seem to be working out anytime soon. When we need faith. Or when we're extremely grateful and joyous. The part of religion that gives us a link with something greater than ourselves. I know about Atman and parama-atman and it makes sense to me, same goes for the avatars, they're as straightforward as some of the concepts in the religion I grew up with. I normally have an easy time believing in things, and I welcome ritual and tradition. But I can't seem to see the bigger picture.

    For example, I grew up with God as a father figure, everloving, everlasting and understanding, someone with whom I could "talk" to and know I would get unconditional love in return, and that I would be asked to love people in that same unconditional manner. There's a big step from there to the tenets of my religion, but to me it boils down to that feeling, that knowledge. I could say that it's what makes me believe. That's what I can't really make out from Hinduism right now, or from my husband and family, more appropriately. I feel that without knowing that all I can do is teach my children rituals, food and tradition, but never true religion, no matter how many religious books we might read.
     
  7. Srama

    Srama IL Hall of Fame

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    Hi Marisa,

    I was going through your query just today and even though it was posted some time back, I could not stop from writing to you and sharing what little I am doing. I agree with you that we all need something to hang on to in times of distress as well as in happier times. And yes you are absolutely right, more often that not it is the mother who makes a big difference in religion and culture. I have always wondered as to what is it that made me the person I am and it definitely comes down to upbringing. I am trying hard to impart the same to my children. So I will try to give a gist of what I have understood so far. Me belief is by slowly exposing to culture and tradition, we will be automatically imbibing the value that there is God to whom we can always look up to. I don’t ever remembering my parents telling me ‘Thank God for your happiness or Pray to God for your problems we were simply taught to accept God as part of our every day life and then came the stories, the philosophy etc..

    I am sure you concur with me that Hinduism is a way of life. So to begin with make it a habit to keep a small temple in the house (you can keep some of your favorite Gods – including all religions) and lighting the lamp both in the morning and evening – we as children were taught to either recite some Shlokas or stay quiet infront of the God for a couple of minutes and pray at least once a day (here I practice that when ever the kids take a bath, they come down and bow in front of the God). They also have the habit of bowing in front of the God for just a second before stepping out of the house. In many families, as soon as we wake up, it is a habit to look at a picture of God before we start the day – these are little ways in which the concept of God is introduced to children as ever present. While our prayers do not make it obvious as thanking God, they surely imbibe a value system where in you simply believe there is a superior power and that we acknowledge that – questioning and learning about it follows automatically.

    Hinduism does not make it mandatory to go to temple. However visiting a temple atleast once or twice a month will make the kids understand that there is a concept of God and we need to understand that as we grow. In India we see temples in every where and it is not hard to stop by whenever you feel like it – to thank God whenever you want or stopping by for a prayer or to calm your mind. By keeping God in a temple in the house, you are basically doing the same thing. Follow the same principle of reciting a couple of simple shlokas in the temple

    It would help to know the customs and traditions of the region your husband comes from in a broader perspective like the festivals they celebrate etc. Every family has a tradition of following certain festivals that are passed on from one generation to another – try and find out if there are any like that. That apart, make it a habit to celebrate atleast 3-4 major festivals in a year. For ex I am from a Karnataka so the big festivals in our family are Sankranthi, Ugadi, Varamahalakshmi, Ganesha Chaturthi, Dussera and Deepavali. By following festivals, you are imbibing the cultural values and of course, the stories, morals and good food are always there. Also having friends over and celebrating on these days will add a sense of belonging to the culture and lead to a lot more understanding. As far as following the pooja procedures, there are plenty of websites or on your next visit to India, you can buy the respective cds once you know what festivals are big for your family.

    I am sure starting off these simple steps will introduce you to more and more ways of teaching and understanding Hinduism and as you have mentioned, the family will imparti ts own value system – it is being conscious and answering questions diligently as and when the arise will guide you through. Needless to say, just be being conscious of this aspect in your lives you are already making a difference.

    I sincerely hope this has thrown some light and answered some of your questions and given you a starting point. Good luck.
     

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