Traditions are customs, rituals or beliefs that are passed on from one generation to the next and help in building strong family relationships. Every culture has their own traditions, and when these are celebrated in the form of festivals, even the country considers it important enough to declare a holiday, so that families can get together to participate in them.
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Traditions can be big or small and have always played an important role in shaping a child’s personal identity. So, it’s important for the elders to make sure that the seeds of the family tradition are sown in the young minds of the growing children. Psychologists have found that families in which traditions and rituals are followed, have more confident and well-adjusted children. This is because the children understand their past and realise they belong to something bigger than themselves.
So how do the expats celebrate if the country they have migrated to, does not recognise their traditions?
Every year hundreds of Indians move to other countries for jobs or studies or want to retire there as their children have settled out of India. Do they still yearn to stay connected with the Indian traditions and if so, how do they manage that?
Most of the Indian expats feel grounded while keeping in touch with the Indian traditions abroad. The cultural shock that afect many, when they move into a new country, is reduced a little, when they celebrate festivals and follow their known traditions. The more important point is that, it brings fellow Indians together, who are living in the same area and helps one form a mutual support group.
Expat Indians say they feel closer to their country when they are away and crave for the ‘Indian touch’ and the way of life. What is taken for granted while staying in India, is valued more when abroad. While most youngsters are busy trying to get a foothold in their professions, they want to create a ‘back-home-like-environment’ for their wives and small kids. When parents come visiting, they bring their ‘Indian-ness’ along with them, which comes as a much-needed respite for many.
Fortunately, in most countries, you can practise your religion without any problems.
As a solution to this, many Indians have introduced Indian culture, in the form of yoga, Bhagwad Gita and Upanishad classes. Children are sent to learn Indian language, shlokas and culture lessons. In fact, most parents insist on speaking in their own mother tongue, just so the children at least understand it, even if they don't speak it. Children learn traditional dances like, Bharatnatyam and Indian music like, Carnatic music, to stay rooted.
Temples(Specially ISKON) and Gurudwaras have cropped up here and there in most countries and Indians take out time to visit them. People look for different ways to stay connected and temples celebrate most festivals, ranging from the very popular Diwali to ‘Tulsi-Vivah’, to help reduce home-sickness. Participating in these gatherings, asserts their Indianness as against being Tamils, Gujaratis, Punjabis etc when they are in India. Festivals like Navratri’s, Karwa chauth etc are also celebrated, more with the intention of getting together with like-minded people in an alien land.
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