Last night I was reading an article about raising kids in a multi-faith environment. Agam and I are not practicing Hindus. Our most favorite place of worship in the US is a Gurudwara when neither of us is a Sikh. Given our confusing religious foundation, I often wonder what Tara will think about religion and its implications as she grows up. One of the points the author emphasizes in the article is that one should give the kids enough options to explore. By having access to scriptures from all types of religions, a child can perhaps dabble and explore and find a path forward for them. I went to bed with these thoughts in my mind.
I believe that religion should not be an anchor in your life. If you need an anchor to seek strength from, there is a lot else to lean on – like the trust that exists in a society, the sheer nature of humans to help and of course other social anchors like friends and companions. And that is why I don’t want Tara to see religion as a thing she has to choose and live with. It should be exploratory – now and always.
This morning when Agam went running and Tara and I were pacing up and down getting ready for our girls morning out, Tara uttered some words as I was passing by the little temple we have in our house. It is a multi-faith temple – pretty much every type of God can be found there, in some shape or form. She said, “Ding a Dell”. First, I didn’t bother, but when she said it for the second time and pointed to the temple, I picked her up and asked her what she was pointing at. She repeated her words and I knew what she was saying. She was pointing to the bell and was asking if she could ring the bell. I gave her the bell and she started playing with it.
She was obviously curious since the temple has a lot of colorful things. Next, she picked up a string of rosary beads. Funny anecdote – these beads were bought in a small town of Wardha, outside a Sai Temple. I have kept it with me since those days since it reminds me of that phase of my life where I needed something to keep me going. Those beads did come in handy a couple of times when self-doubt refused to let go of me.
Next, Tara picked up a small plastic image of Guru Nanak Dev. She didn’t seem much interested in it and kept it back. And finally, she picked up the incense sticks. They smelled wonderful. She smelled them and played with them for some time. When we came down, I lit those incense sticks and Tara and I enjoyed the fragrance.
With deep intent, she observed the fumes from the incense sticks leave the kitchen window, and then at some point, she said, “gone”, and went back to her blocks.
With those fumes, I also let go of my thoughts from the night before. My child will pick the best path forward for herself. She is curious and she will explore. Even if she considers lighting incense sticks as her religion, I will have lived my purpose.