Editor's Note :
As India celebrates seventy years of independence, I thought there was no better way to celebrate our nation, than to acknowledge and celebrate the bonds that bring us together despite our cultural differences. Nobody exemplifies this more than the men and women that have tied the matrimonial knot despite differences in language, food and even religion. Throughout the month of August, the Times of Amma will be speaking to Moms who who are raising multicultural children and Moms who grew up in multicultural families.
Today in our Unity in Diversity Special Series, Rashmi DSouza talks to us about her marriage with a Hindu Malayali while being a Konkani Christian, herself.
Where did you both meet? We would love to hear your story.
Somewhere I had read, If possible, Marry your best friend. August 2005, I joined Accenture and it was a Friday when this gentleman walked over to my desk to check if our team had any openings. When our eyes met something inside me said this meeting will turn into something very interesting. We could be best friends or we could just never talk again. As days passed by we became best friends. We hung out and shared all the little crazy things of a daily life. After 2 years we realized that we liked each other a little too much. But we had a BIG barrier called the “DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS” (Including religions and language). Vivek Narayanan, was from Kerala and spoke Malayalam and I from Mangalore, who spoke Konkani. He was a Hindu and I was a Christian. We decided to give it a shot and also made a pact that if things did not work out we would just go our ways. In 2007 April, he came over to meet my father. My dad a very strict Roman Catholic heard him out calmly and said 2 things. 1. I would like your parents to come and meet us and see if things work. 2. We have raised our daughter with lot of love and care. If you or your family intends to ill treat her, I am very much happier to not have her married for the rest of her life than have her pushed into hell. In June of the same year, his parents came to meet my parents and there was so much of awkwardness which one can completely understand with regard to a marriage discussion of 2 different backgrounds. After all the talks and they said ok and my parents agreed too and then while leaving when I said 'Bye Aunty' to his mother, she fondly hugged me and said, “Not aunty, Amma”. I knew that I was blessed. Our wedding went smoothly with absolutely NIL Issues.
Which languages do you speak at home? Which language is your child most comfortable in?
I speak Konkani and I have learnt Malayalam after marriage. My Amma taught me and helped me learn, while I helped her with learning Kanadda. We speak English when just the 2 of us are there. But with our respective families we speak Malayalam or Konkani. My baby who is just 16 months old, we speak to her in English.
What would you call are the family’s favourite home foods?
While at my home, my husband relishes manglorean food and when I am in Kerala I trip on Kerala food. At home we have normal roti and veggies etc. otherwise during our respective festivals, we celebrate them with a traditional way including wearing attire.For e.g. for Onam and Vishu, I wear the traditional sari and we go to the temple before sitting down for our sumptuous meal. For Christmas and Easter, we go to the church and then celebrate it with our extended families.
What are some of your biggest cultural differences?
To be honest it is in the mindset. You just have to remove it from your mind that there is a barrier. If you were born in their household things would be different hence you just need to gel into the family. The biggest that I had was getting into the Temple and this was also taught by my Amma. She has been the biggest help for me to be able to gel into my family after marriage. Of course I have the best Father in law and brother in law and Co sister. Most of all, the best husband in the whole wide world any woman can ask for and my parents adore him.
Did getting married to someone from another state bring you closer to your parents or did it pose a challenge?
I come from a very close and loving family. My parents have always been open to my brother and me. We never had an issue about me getting married to someone from another state. What was really emotional was when I was married in Kerala in their custom, my parents took trouble of being there and learning the way the ceremony was to be done. Similarly when we got married in the church, my inlaws learnt how and what about our wedding culture and ensured everything went smooth.Our families were thrilled at every little ceremony we went through with regard to our respective cultures.
What have the biggest challenges been as far as starting a bi-cultural family is concerned?
The biggest challenge is when the relatives begun to judge you for every little thing and how one needs the patience and support from your family to overcome it. E.g my wedding at Palakkad in Kerala was on 16th December and I had to leave back to Bangalore after the wedding. We finished the wedding at 2pm and came home for the ceremony at my husband's place and I changed into track pants to leave. The look on the face of a few relatives was priceless. My inlaws have been supportive then and till date I have never had a time where I had to think why did I even get married here. Another challenge is the thought of allowing to practice one's faith. Till date I have never ever been questioned as to why do I need to go to church. Even if there is a clash of days where there could be an auspicious day as per the Hindu Calendar and I have my lent going on, I still go to church and at times my mum in law accompanies me. I have never been forced to wake up at 4am for a ritual or even fast.
The biggest fear was when my daughter was born. I wondered what how they would react to her baptism. But as per their custom we had the 28th day at home and on the 40th day, we had her baptism at the church. We have shared all our rituals together.
What have been your greatest joys as a family from two parts of India?
You get to learn a new culture and the way the people of a different state live. At the end of the day we are Indians and our values will never change. We still respect our older people, we still love our families and we are very emotional about our families.
I am a foodie and for me it was about the variety of food to taste.
Thank you Rashmi DSouza for sharing just how harmonious your blended family is.
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