My 6 year old nephew recently proudly proclaimed, “I am fifty percent Hindu and fifty percent Catholic!” Many would say that this is impossible, but he, like my own children, is a product of an inter-faith marriage and this is perfectly normal to him. When I told my parents about my plans to marry a Christian man, my mother warned me that my future children would probably be confused because of the exposure to both Hinduism and Christianity. I thought about this, and I decided that I myself was really a child of two religions, having been raised in a Hindu household while attending Catholic school. I remember that each person at either home or school that proposed a belief to me was so staunch in their faith, but there were so many contradictions in the religious doctrines that each was preaching that I couldn’t help but being slightly confused.
The exposure to multiple religions has given me the opportunity to find universal truths among different faiths. My two favorite religious concepts are the Hindu concept of karma, which is that the action of a person’s life affects what he or she will become in the next life. The other is Jesus’ golden rule, “love your neighbor as yourself”. Although these religions are contradictory to one another in many ways, both of these doctrines elicit the same moral idea. That is, that actions should be approached in the context of something larger than one’s own life.
I now believe in the power of using different theologies to mold my own religion. Exposure to more than one religion for my children will force them to think about what they personally believe. I even want my children to be confused, because in this confusion they will be able to develop their own sense of morality and will be more likely to at least try to understand the beliefs of others.
In India, there is an acronym that they call us Indian, or “Desi”-Americans. It is “ABCD”, for “American Born Confused Desi”. I am a true “ABCD”. My morality has been woven from Christian parables, Vedic scriptures, and the Old Testament. I don’t fit into any religious community or culture completely, and I used to hate that feeling, but I now embrace it. I believe it has added a wonderful complexity and empathy to the way I approach life. I can now proudly reply to my nephew that I am fifty percent Hindu and fifty percent Catholic, too!
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