Last month while preparing to go to the US for spending some time with my son and daughter-in-law there, I asked them whether they wanted something from India. Both seemed to be satisfied with clothes, paintings or idols they had carried away earlier from India. I also tried to remember the things I carried for my children in the last twelve years.
Knowing that my grandson Dhruv has heard and read the stories of Ramayana, Mahabharata and other stories of Indian history, from his very childhood, I thought it would be suitable to carry one framed photo of Ram, Lakshman and Hanuman to please him. While uncovering the luggage, I found that the glass of the picture was broken badly. Although there was no damage to the picture. All the goods, clothes and food items were safe, only that glass was broken. I was searching a place in that big house, where the picture could be kept or hung. Then I put it in the kitchen. In evening when I was entering from the main gate of the house, I saw the picture on a rack at the entrance gate only. I was happy to see that my daughter-in-law had put it in a proper place. I saw a good and special painting of Ganesha was hanging on the wall just above the picture of Ram-Lakshman and Hanuman. I felt satisfied.
In that posh area of Middleton City (Madison) there were a hundred or more than that independent houses. The area is not much older. Last time (8 years before) when I visited that place, there were few houses in that area, but this time I found almost all the vacant plots were covered with beautiful houses with different architects. There were about ten houses belonging to Indian families. The number is not small when most of the houses belong to Americans. I visited two Indian houses. There I found the place of worship where the idols or picture of Indian Gods and Goddesses were kept. The housewife Premlata, PhD in Chemistry, introduced each one of them with the reference to their travelling stories from India. She told me that her parents used to visit US once a year. At their every visit, they brought one idol or picture of God and Goddesses. I found at least one picture or painting of some God hanging in every (five) bed room or corridor. It was obvious that when entering into the house, one can understand that the house belongs to an Indian family. They could not guess so by the clothes or the language, because with the clothing they have also adopted the American pronunciation and accent. Thank God they have not changed clothes or faces of Gods and Goddesses of India. The reason may be that the God and Goddesses have travelled from India without the US visa and passport.
Most of the Indian youth worship the Hindu Gods and Goddesses in their houses and in temples too. There are one or two big temples in each town and city of the US. The number of small temples are rather less. The big temples are the place of different kinds of Hindu’s activities apart from the worship of the Gods and Goddesses. Ten years ago, we visited the famous temple of Chicago. Almost all the Gods and Goddesses were placed in that temple. Even the navgrah were there. Visitors were going around those navgrah. We also followed them. In a corner three persons of a family, husband, wife and one son were sitting on the floor. Each person was holding one small book in their hands and one priest was sitting with them. When we went nearer to them we could hear the part of story of “Satya Narayan Katha” in English. In India we have been hearing the katha from our childhood. The difference was that in India only the priest reads loudly, explains and elaborates the story. After finishing every chapter priest used to blow konch. In the US temples the priest does not read all the seven chapters of the katha. He asks the listeners to read the chapters one by one. We also sat there. There was no konch blowing. At the end of the seven chapters priest distributed some sweets.
We attended two marriage ceremonies in that big temple during our next visit. Priests of the US have made the rituals very simple and easy. I saw a marriage ceremony in which the groom was American and the bride was south Indian. The groom was wearing dhoti-kurta and turban also. Of course, presented by in-laws only. He performed all the rituals asked by the priest. In another ceremony the priest did not know the rituals very well. When asked by the parents of the bride, priest used to say- “then do this ritual also.” Ultimately the marriage ceremony was ended with seven rounds of fire by bride and groom. The last ritual was sindur daan. The marriage ceremony took place in a big temple only where all the important dev and deities were there. I was informed that all the priests of the temples are from India. Knowing the scarcity of the priests in foreign countries, Vishwa Hindu Parishad started imparting training to youths. The trained priests are going there for different kinds of pujas and rituals also
Some other rituals like birthdays or marriage and festivals like Durga Puja, Holi, Diwali are also celebrated in these temples. Temples are the meeting places of Indians (Hindu). Some temples have started teaching Sanskrit and Hindi languages and Indian music. Other social activities are also observed in the temples. They are very neat and clean.
Wherever Indians go, they go with their deities. Gods and Goddesses give them strength, and occasions to meet each others, to feel that they are not alone. Community life is a source of support and confidence, and at the same time the feeling that they are not alone.
The children of Indian youth in the US are American citizens; they like to read the stories from the Indian history. The stories of Hanuman or Ganesh gives them surprise. They are not only entertaining, but also give lessons at the these choices. They are publishing more and more books for children in the US, of course in English.
Once I told my elder grandson Dhruv- “you are Ram and your younger brother Dheer is Lakshman.” He refused saying- “I am not blue. Ram is blue.” I could guess that Ram is shown blue in children’s books. I suggested same to the publishers who publish children books in abroad not to show Ram in dark blue colour.