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Indian Culture for the Adoptive Family

Introduction:

Cincinnati has a large Indian community and the Hindu Temple is the center of activity. There are regional organizations that meet independently, but the Temple is the umbrella organization that offers both secular and religious activities from all of India’s diverse regions.


Our adopted daughter, Molly, had been with us for a couple years before I made a call to the Hindu Temple. It was my first step towards putting Molly in touch with her Indian heritage. Little did I realize the delight and enrichment this gesture would bring to our entire family.


Through research and networking with new found Indian friends, I have acquired a familiarity with the Indian community that I want share with other adoptive families. This paper will provide you with an overview of Indian culture in Cincinnati that will hopefully give you the confidence to reach out to it as we did.


Our Journey:
Our first Temple activity was a celebration honoring the God, Ganesh. We drove down Klatte Road, through an older subdivision. The road narrowed, giving the impression that it would peter out at a private drive. Suddenly, the grand gates of the Temple appeared, inviting us down the tree lined, paved lane beyond. Soon we caught our first glimpse of the Temple, rising behind the gently rolling lawn.

A parade with music and traditional dancing led the participants to the Temple, where wide steps invited everyone to enter. In a gesture of reverence, all shoes were taken off.

The holy inner sanctum of the Temple is a large open room with a raised platform spanning the far end of the room. Stately statues of Hindu Gods line the platform, with a beautiful, cast glass “Om” (Hindi for “Hindu”) in the center. Rugs were unrolled to soften the floor, upon which everyone sat. Sitting postures varied, but no one stretched their legs out in front of them, since pointing the bottoms of one’s feet towards the Gods is a sign of disrespect. The rhythmic cadence of the Priest’s voice and the incense enveloped us, touching our spirits with the sanctity of this place.

Months later, the Holi, “the Festival of Color”, a celebration of spring, would entertain us. Dancers of every age performed dances from Indian movies. The music was alive and vibrant, making it hard to sit still in one’s seat. Everyone had fun.

Mid festival, Molly decided that she wanted to participate the following year. Inquiring as to who organized this affair, I was told “Oh, the mothers choreograph the dances, teach the children and prepare their costumes.” And so began my search for an Indian mom with a daughter Molly’s age, who would guide Molly through the process. In so doing, I satisfied Molly’s request, which was a wonderful success the following year, and made a delightful new friend as well.

Although self conscience at first, we now feel comfortable and welcome at the Temple. Many Temple activities are marked on our calendar months in advance.

While we love the cultural enrichment the Indian community offers us, more importantly they provide something for Molly that we, her adoptive family, cannot. Someone once said “It’s hard to know who you are if you don’t know where you’re from.” Adoptive parents can offer an abundance of love and stability, but only the Indian community can tell my Molly “where she comes from”.

I would love to hear from other adoptive families. Feel free to offer additional information that can be added to this list, or corrections. You can contact me at the email address: nameste7500@yahoo.com.

--Cindy

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