Interview with an Indian-American Christian Woman: Part 1
I had an amazing virtual conversation with Anu Skariah, a deaconess from my church. Anu is an Indian-American, Christian, middle class woman. I was very curious to learn about her culture as a whole and about her views of marriage and faith in relation to her culture.
Me: “What are the most important values and beliefs of your culture?”
Anu: “The most important values and beliefs in my culture depend greatly on which state in the country you were raised. However, a high value on education and preserving the Indian culture are two things that are important to the people of India.”
Here I understood that the people of India are proud and I was able to appreciate their love for knowledge, personal growth, and preservation as well as corporate growth, somewhat like my people.
Moreover, I asked Anu to describe important cultural events such as celebrations and practices in her culture.
Anu: “This is very religion specific as the Hindu religion has many. As a Christian, infant baptism and marriage are our two big ones. We also do a large engagement party prior to a wedding.”
I continued to ask Anu questions related to marriage and faith…
Me: “How do people from your culture pick a partner for marriage?”
Anu: “In a very traditional sense, it is important to pick a spouse from the same state and cultural background as you, even within the same country. Although it is changing as things become more modernized, it is not generally accepted that two people from two different states would marry because the culture, food, and language are so vastly different as you cross state borders.”
I proceeded to ask her, “What are some marital traditions?”
Anu: “The Hindu culture has a three-day ceremony, but as a Christian, I got married in a church and had a reception afterward. However, the clothes that I wore were mostly Indian. There is something called a milk ceremony that happens at the reception when the mothers-in-law give warm milk to the bride and groom as a symbol of purity. There is also an Indian ceremony at the end of the reception where the mothers-in-law give gifts from the family to their newest member. Regardless of religion, gold and jewelry is elaborate and ornate for any Indian wedding and the colors for the clothes are festive, bright, and bold.”