Vaishali A. Patel
SO WHY DO I HAVE TO LEARN GUJARATI?
Updated: May 3, 2021
Unconsciously take your shoes of when you enter a home?
Bow down your head when you meet older family members?
Greet them with “jai shri krishna” or similar God names?
Offer pani and tea when someone comes over?
Take your tikhi puri and thepla when traveling?
Love your keri no ras (Pulpy mango juice)
Have a Tulsi plant in your front yard?
Eat gaud and dahi before any important work?
If you do, it is because you grew up in a Gujarati house in India or anywhere in the world. When we grow up in a different country, we try to assimilate in that new culture by belittling the importance of our Gujarati traditions thinking it is too backwards or old school. But our traditions and rituals are significantly important in sustaining a culture. Overtime these traditions will die down if we can’t justify why they are so important. Knowing, following and understanding traditions allows one to be more grounded and be rooted.
Today’s world looks at diversity with reverence and respect. This allows our children to feel unique. I remember when I first came to the United States at age 16. I did not want anything to do that reminded me that I was Indian or Gujarati. I wanted to be an American. I actually made a list of how I can be more American and less “desi” (desi a term that describes a person of Indian decent who holds his culture too closely and some tendencies of “desi” are inborn and it would be hard to erase, in my opinion).
Now that I look back, it’s really comical that I actually thought by never being seen in an Indian outfit in public can make me less “desi or if I just ate pizza and fries during lunch at school that made me more American. I tried hard not being an Indian but as time went on I realized being Gujarati is really what makes me special.
Once i had my own children I learned how important it was to embrace this unique part of my heritage. As much as I would like my children to be scholars in Gujarati, I know that the real need was for them to be able to speak the language and communicate with their grandparents and family back home in India.
Our generation finds that most grandparents are fluent in English and so we feel no need for teaching our kids Gujarati. Knowing your language enhances your ability to understand your values and norms. There are words, feelings, actions in Gujarati that can not be described through English.
If you are in a Gujarati Hindu household as most Gujarati households are, you remember those small prayers, bhajans, nursery rhymes you grew up with? There is a reason you have been chosen to be born in a Gujarati family, you are meant to not only inherit but also pass down this amazing culture!
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