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Friday, February 8, 2013

Nature Vs. Nurture - LBC Post

My eldest son, whom I refer to as 'Neill' for the purposes of blogging, was a little concerned one day.  He told me in all seriousness that in his adult life, he'd have to leave India and go and live in Ireland.   Without wishing to pry, but madly curious all the same, I feigned a slight disinterest and asked him why.

"I have to take care of my Naani," came the reply.  "Naani" refers to the grandmother who happens to be your mother's mother.  The similar sounding word 'nanny' is often used to refer to the grandmother in Ireland.  There "nanny" can be either of the two grandmothers.  I asked Neill why was he anxious about my mother.

"She's getting older," he explained.  "She has no son.  I'm her eldest grandson.  It's my duty to take care of her."

I asked him what about his father's mother and he replied that as she has three sons and six grandsons, she will always have someone to look out for her.  But his Naani only has him and as her other,  younger grandson lives in London, he felt that his Naani was his responsibility.

This is one of the thing that I love about my son.  He was born in India, but raised by Irish me and my Indian husband, Yash.  He seems to be a fair mixture of both cultures.  I'd like to think he's absorbed the best of both.

My two daughters were up in Delhi this week at a wedding.  I was unable to attend that wedding as someone had to stay home.  My mother in law had asked my husband to stay at home as the house should not be empty and as a show of marital solidarity, I decided to stay at home with him.  Neill was busy with this studies and I kept the youngest son at home as I was unable to go over to Delhi and deep a watchful eye on him. So I sent my daughters to Delhi under the care of my mother in law.

The bride at this wedding, Suneha, is the first of all my mother in law's grandchildren to get married.  She is the daughter of the elder of my husband's too sisters, so you can say that it's the first wedding in the family, especially for my children.  My daughters got the opportunity to participate in all the ceremonies and one of those ceremonies was the 'mehendi ceremony'.  This is when the bride and her female relatives have henna patterns drawn on their hands and feet.  As the younger sisters of the bride, my daughters were naturally expected to participate.

However, in my daughters' convent school, there is a rule that students must not come to school with mehendi patterns on their hands.  Feet are okay because when one is wearing shoes and socks, one could be wearing red nail polish on one's toes and it wouldn't matter.  But girls who come to school with the patterns on their hands can be suspended as long as the designs last, which could be as much as two weeks.

Had I been there, I'd have certainly prevented the girls from participating in the mehendi ceremony because of  the school rule.  However, the girls were in the care of their grandmother and she was unaware this.  When my daughter Mel explained that the mehendi patterns could only be worn to school for the marriage of  a  real sister, my mother in law simply replied "yes, she is your sister".  In India, cousins are considered as brothers and sisters.

So I shall have to make a visit to the principal of my daughters' school and explain the situation.  I just hope she'll be understanding.  Because of their Christian background (i.e. me) my girls are generally treated as Christians at school and as the mehendi ceremony is not practised by Christians - well, not widely, anyway, my girls need not expect leniency.

However, my point is,  point is, my children are a mixture of east and west.  Of Hindu and Christian, at least for social and family purposes.  It could be nature or it could be nurture.  Or it could be both.  They are neither completely Irish nor completely Indian.  As I said earlier, I hope they have got the best of both worlds.


This is my weekly post for my blogging group, the Loose Blogging Consortium. We post weekly (usually simultaneously) on a given topic and visit each other to see the different takes we have on the same topic.  We are, in alphabetical order, AnuDeliriousRummuserGrannymarMaxi, Magpie, Maria SFocdwriterPadmumPaul, The Old FossilShackman and Will. If you have time, please visit my friends too.  This topic 'Nature Vs. Nurture' has been given by Shackman. 

22 comments:

Ruchita said...

Children are sponges, aren't they, picking up everything? I love your son's already responsible attitude. Don't think you need to worry, looks like they're doing great with both cultures :)

Grannymar said...

That is very thoughtful of Neill. Any chance he could go to College in Ireland for a few years?

Mimi said...

I think they will have got the best of both worlds, and a great upbringing from loving parents.
I love how caring your son is, my son is similar (got it from his Dad, i think!), and it's a trait that I adore!
In my school, the principal would be very understanding if a similar situation was explained, so I hope that your principal will see reason. I do also hope that the world is becoming more accepting of everyone's different culture, and their equal right to expression. It's important.

J.L. Campbell said...

Your son is obviously a caring individual, which means you and your husband are good parents.

I find the cultural differences the world over quite interesting.

shackman said...

Interesting set of "problems" you describe - none of which seem insurmountable. I agree with what J.L. Campbell says - you and your husband have done well by your children.

Delirious said...

I think it's wonderful that they have such a rich heritage, and have part in both sides!

Maggie May said...

I love what your son said about his Irish grandmother. It almost brought tears to my eyes.
I hope your daughters' convent did accept the henna patterns as being unavoidable.
Love reading about your diverse family!
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Rummuser said...

Mehendi is an Indian custom. Not a Hindu custom. Coming as you do from Lucknow, you must have seen women of all religions apply Mehendi to their hands and feet and for the Christian school to object, I think is silly. While you may not directly initiate anything, some other hot head parent can well take the school to court. I would if a girl child of mine was involved.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

@Ruchita, isn't it amazing how they pick up so much? He's picked up the fact that we have to take responsibility for the elder. I don't really remember impressing that on him, but he got it all the same.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

@Grannymar - I'd love if he could and I hope he can.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

@Mimi - isn't it strange how nowadays an Irish school would probably be understanding but an Indian Christian school wouldn't? My girls are in the Loreto, which is an Irish based school BTW.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

@JL Campbell - Hello, Joy. Thanks for your kind words. I also have a fascination with different cultures, but I have quite a diversity in my own home.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

Hi Shackman - nice to see you over here. And thank you too for your kind words.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

@Delirious - Hi Delores - I only hope and pray I'm doing right by them....

Maria Perry Mohan said...

@MaggieMay - Hello, Maggie. Hopefully the school will understand. I saw the girls' hands when they came back from Delhi today and it's only the palms and inside the fingers which are patterned, which isn't too extreme really. Hopefully, the Principal will be understanding.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

@Rummuser - Bhaiya, you are right, it is an Indian custom and lots of Muslim women wear henna. I haven't seen Anglo-Indian ladies wearing it but Indian Christian ladies do.

Patsy said...

Sounds like you have a lovely family.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

@Patsy - Thank you!

Maxi said...

I'm with Rummy, so long as tradition has no ill effect on others it should be respected.

Your son touches my heart; he is
a sweet and loving person.

Blessings ~ Maxi

Chris Stovell said...

Coming here today has reminded me of all the best things about blogging. It was lovely to catch with your East meets West family again.

Plain / Ordinary Joe said...

Hi!

Your girls have indeed the best of both worlds.

Nice write up, and looking forward to reading more.

Best regards,

Ordinary Joe
http://joethinkspeak.blogspot.com/

Maria Perry Mohan said...

Chris, always lovely to see you here.

Hello, Joe.