In our World Heritage class, we defined personal heritage as the following: ethnic background, nationality, religion, gender, and socioeconomic class. My personal heritage is more defined with my ethnic background, my nationality, and my religion than anything else. I am an Indian immigrant who came here when I was two and established my citizenship in 2006. My religion is Hinduism and it really ties in with my ethnic background and my personal heritage.
Have you ever thought about how different you would turn out if you weren’t born into the family you were? Have you ever thought about how much of you is defined by your genetics, by the circumstances you faced, and by you? I have and I think what defines me most is the circumstances I have faced in my life and my family.
I was born in India, and I spent the first two years of my life there with my mom. I don’t remember much of this time, but I am told that as a baby I was really sick or something of that sorts. I was told that my family would stay awake all night taking care of me. I was told that my mom prayed and promised to do so many fasts for me to get cured. I was told that after being placed on Sahi Baba’s feet (or something of that sorts) I was cured. I was cured by God’s grace, and it is because of him that I am here today: healthy and prospering. Although I can’t remember of a time like this, I feel like this is the first instance where my personal heritage was established. It established my faith. It established my faith in the Hinduism culture and religion. I know from a young age I was very religious. I did aarti (a form of prayer) and high amount of reverence towards a higher power. Even when I am questioning my faith, I’ve never questioned the belief that there is a higher power and I was always pulled back into my religion. I remember this summer going to a temple for Sahi Baba and feeling a sense of calmness, of serenity, and of insignificance. I remembered looking at that idol and wanting to thank him for the life I was given and wanting to beg for forgiveness for all the sins I’ve committed and for even thinking about doubting my faith. I remembered telling my mom that after visiting my temple that I do believe in God, but I remembered questioning her as to why there is so many different religions and how do we know the one we’re following is the correct one. My mom replied telling me “Mira, there is no correct religion, God is God. All the gods we see and believe in are just different representations of one God, one hierarchical power and one being. The different religions are just different ways of naming God.” Earlier in that same week my mom and her friend were talking about the different miracles they faced in life and why their faith so strong. That was the same time I remembered what I perceived to be miracles that I’ve seen also. That was when I first started questioning why I was questioning my faith. Visiting the temple was when my faith was re-established. I find it really ironic that the same God who saved me as a baby was the same one who helped me re-establish my face. My faith, the religion that I follow, is the center of my personal heritage. My ethnic background is dependent upon my religion.
I am an India, an Asian Indian. My parents are the typical Asian parents with their academic expectation of me. As a child, my parents bought me various workbooks in Math, Science, or Reading every year expecting me to finish several pages from each before I got to go outside and play. I remember every night my mom would look over my homework to correct it and to see my print. If she saw one letter that wasn’t printed right (or neat as she would call it) or saw one incorrect answer, she would make me redo it again. If I brought back my homework multiple times like this in one night, she would erase the entire homework I did and make me redo everything again. My dad on the other hand would quiz me on my maths every time I am in the car with him to strengthen my mathematics. He would usually quiz me on my multiplications: “what’s 132*212 equal to?” he would say. I remember looking forward to these “math quizzes”, hoping I’d be able to beat my dad on his math skills one day. Coming from an Asian family, my parents did put a lot of importance of my academics; however, my parent, as they say, are Indian before anything else, and this has influenced my personal heritage deeply.
I am an Indian. As an Indian, I was brought up in the Indian culture. And, I feel as if the Indian culture (or the one I was brought up in) was heavily influenced by the Hinduism religion. This is probably because the majority of people living in India are Hindus. I was brought up in this type on Indian culture. As a child, before going to bed every night, I remembered meditating before the small homemade alter we had in the house with my family. I remember doing Aarti (an Indian prayer) every night before eating, in fact, my mom still does Aarti every morning and some night we still do it together (of course, not now so much because I am in college , and thus, not home). My parents taught me not waste food, told me of my limits as per the Indian culture, taught me to keep my room clean (as to not loose any money, or in my case “at this stage your education is your money, so if you don’t keep your room clean, you’ll loose you educational standing”, taught me to not wear my shoes in the house (though I still I haven’t learned why), and much more. Even now, when I’m living on my own, I still take what my parents say to heart, I still remember what they taught me. I take off my shoes at the door step, I cook Indian food at least once a week, I feel to guilty to waste any sorts of food, I don’t step beyond the boundaries my parents set for me. My friends always laugh when I tell them about my family because according to them “[my] parents are set to do all the stereotypes expected from India families to do”. The background my parents gave me makes much of who I am today. However, my ethnic background isn’t the only defining aspect of my personal heritage.
I am also American. As a two year old, I moved with my mom to America. I’ve lived here since (except for 6th grade when I went to boarding school there and few visits taken to India to visit relatives). In 2006 (right before going to school in India), I’ve established my US Citizenship. I have a duo nationality: one from India (my ethnic and familial background) and one from the US (my ideals of freedom). I personally feel that because of my parents I haven’t taken much of the US stereotypes or ways of thinking. However, because of I came to the US, I feel like I’ve received the ideals of freedom and being open. Because of coming here, I feel like I have strong sense of independence and personal voice. Whereas, in India, one expects women to be sort of submissive to their husbands and parents. I have high amounts of respect towards my parents; however, I voice all my opinions and thoughts to them. I feel like if my parents didn’t choose to move here, I would’ve turned out completely differently. I wouldn’t be as independent as I am now. Also, I feel like I am more open to others and their ideals because I came to the US (especially since I came at a young age). I feel like I can be somewhat to very conservative in my personal morals and expectations of myself (due to my ethnic background); however, I am very opening on how others live their lives. I don’t judge people. I feel like I might not be the same in this perspective of myself if I didn’t come to the US.
I try to imagine how different my life would’ve been if parents decided to stay in India, or if I was born into a different faith, or if I was born into a different ethnicity. And, I cannot imagine me being me if such things were to occur. I am shaped through my personal experiences and circumstances. I am shaped through my ethnic background, my religion, and my nationality. These three entities shape my personal heritage. I wouldn’t be me without them.