According to the population data of USA, Indians are approximately 3 millions in number. Ten years ago, there were a very few Indian hotels and groceries that too in some big cities only. Now one can find them in every city in multiple numbers. Even Americans, Chinese and inmates of other countries have tasted the delicious food of Punjabi, Marathi, South Indian and Rajasthani style. They like Indian food. Virtually in twenty years, millions of Indian youth, both male and female have gone to the US for research work in universities or for working as IT-engineers.
The majority of Indian population in the US is of young boys and girls. As far as their marriage is concerned they are choosing their match in the US only, majority of them are Indian couples. So, the atmosphere of the houses is Indian. The young women while going to deliver child, prefer to remain there only. The main reason is that the child born in the US will naturally get the citizenship of the country. There may be some other reasons also. No doubt they have adopted the lifestyle of the US too. But they need some help from their parents, especially the presence of mother or mother-in-law at the time of delivery and sometime after that.
The young Indian mothers are mostly of 25-35 age group. They are born and brought up in India. They have learnt the Indian style of living, but now they are adopting the US ways of living. Most of them try to rear their children in the Indian way. Almost all the young mothers want to feed their milk to the babies, for this they try their best. They even listen to their mother or mother-in-law’s advice. They are matured mothers at the age of 25-35 as compared to young mothers in India, where majority of young women stop conceiving a child at that age. Even now most motherhood starts from the age of sixteen or even fourteen. Here the average age of motherhood can be 18-25. This is the difference between the motherhood of Indian young women in both the countries.
While the young mothers in India are completely dependent on mother or mother-in-laws, in the US, young women of Indian origin prepare themselves to take care of their child themselves. They know that the mother or mother-in-law will come and help them, but they are not going to stay there for a long time. There are so many causes of this short stay in the US.
Last month I was in the US with my children. On my way back to India there was a young 6 month pregnant woman on the seat next to me. When asked by me why was she going to India to deliver her child. She said: “Because neither my mother nor mother-in-law is in a position to come to the US at my delivery time. I need at least one of them at that delivery hour.” She was very much perturbed that something wrong may happen during the journey.
In the US, the pregnant women get some training regarding pregnancy and rear the new born baby. Their husbands are also taught how to help their wives. Husbands have to attend the wives in their labour room. Now this has started in metro cities of India also. In our tradition, male members even the husband’s entry was strictly banned in labour room. When my daughter-in-law was in labour room of American hospital, my son was called to see the delivery. He told me, “I don’t want to go in”.
When the nurse came in our room to call him, I protected him, “I will not allow him. It is not our custom.” In the name of custom only, my son was permitted to stay out from the delivery room.
The Indian mothers in the US are adopting mixed systems for the newly born child. The Indian ways have upper hand, because of the mother-in-law or mother’s presence there. They teach them from India itself. Twelve years ago, I was in the US and I taught my daughter-in-law. She followed some suggestions and rejected some of the advices too. This time I taught my daughter to give daily massage to her newly born daughter. At the same time use of some herbs while taking care of child’s health. First of all I explained to her the value of unriped turmeric and then suggested her to feed a small part of it to the baby. She was convinced as she had read it in the special book teaching her how to take care of new born baby. She has searched a lot at internet also.
Twelve years ago when my grandson was born in the US, I used to prepare the traditional items to feed my daughter-in-law. She did not refuse to take them. One day I prepared paste of some herbs mixed with jaggery (gur). It was not tasteful so she refused to take that. I told her that it would increase your milk production. After some time she came with a book. She showed me the picture of some seeds at one page and asked me, “What is this?”
I told her that they were the same seeds, out of which I made the halwa, which you had refused to take. In our villages that medicine was a must for new mothers. We both were surprised to know that the same medicines were also prescribed in the US books.
It was a great surprise for me to hear the lullaby song by my daughter while trying to make the child sleep. It was the traditional song of Bihar. “Sutu sutu babua, Supalai mein dheua, Bap gelann naukari, Matari Asgarua”.
Oh my sweet child, you go to sleep soon, the coins are in your play plate. Your father has gone for bread earning and I am alone. I have to dispose of many household works. So you go to sleep soon.
She used to sing other Indian songs also for her daughter. Young Indian mothers are trying to preserve Indian culture as much as they can in the US. Of course, she will teach her daughter English. But she is talking in Hindi like other Indian mothers in the US who talk in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam or Bengali. A few ladies have opinions that they should teach their children only English with American pronunciation. Majority of young Indian couples in America are in a dilemma. They want to carry on with the Indian language, food and some family codes of conduct in their children, at the same time they know that after all they have to live in the US.
My observation is that the new generation of Americans will come out from this combination of America and India, or China or others. Certainly, there would bloom a new culture or a new way of life, in which the role of Indian young mothers will be important.