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How I Embrace Indian Culture at Home by Jeni Iyengar

Throughout my life, I have been raised in a traditional Hindu family. We do many things to celebrate life every day, such as through prayer, dance, food, and clothing. These items are all essential to the culture because they are very unique and are used for special occasions as well.

Celebrating my culture and religion are traditions that will forever be special to me because I am very proud to be a Hindu. This background makes me stand out, and I will be sure to honor these traditions as I grow older.

I generally eat Indian food at least once a day. Two of the most common dishes I eat are Sakkarai Pongal and rice with some form of vegetable.

Sakkarai Pongal is a sweet rice pudding; this is one of my favorite dishes. I also eat Saffron Rice with Mattar Paneer, or a curry with peas and cottage cheese. I chose to include food as my first two photos because it will introduce others to one of the many different types of food around the world.

Whenever I go to my local temple or go for special family functions or religious occasions, I normally wear Salwar Suits, or long tunics traditionally worn with pants/leggings. I will go into more of the details of their fabric materials later.

It will be interesting to share photos of Indian outfits because I believe that people should have the chance to see what some of the dresses/tunics look like when they are not usually seen by many.

In addition to the things I always do, there are some weekly occasions that I am happy to observe. My sister attends a virtual Bharatanatyam, or South Indian classical dance class on Zoom. As she dances, she has a graceful facial expression while stamping to the beat of the Nattuvangam, or the wooden board that makes the beats.

In order to go into more detail about my Indian clothing pieces, I will show some close-ups of Salwar suits.

The first one is actually a Pattu Pavadai, or a two-piece dress normally worn for religious occasions. This Pavadai has a black top with holographic dots outlined with rainbow-colored string.

The second item is a Salwar suit with silky coral fabric. The stones on it are metallic and golden, and they form a flower on the top of the dress.

Some interesting portraits that are in my home are the pictures of deities my family hangs on the wall. One very detailed kind of these paintings is the Tanjore painting, or a South Indian painting based in Thanjavur, India.

One beautiful painting is the one of Goddess Mahalakshmi. This painting gives an elegant spin to the scenery of what each God/Goddess did in their lives. I believe that it will be interesting to show people detailed paintings of Gods and Goddesses because they are very unique.

During my spare time, I find it fun to read Amar Chitra Katha, or comic books about Indian myths, Gods, and Goddesses. My mom gave her collection to me and my sister, so we enjoy reading our collection of them. Two of my favorites are Krishna and Tales of Sai Baba.

Amar Chitra Katha is a great way to teach people classical Indian literature. I would recommend these books to anyone because they give a comedic twist on traditional stories.

To sum things up, prayer is a very important aspect of the Hindu culture because daily prayer is usually a routine in our home. We have a prayer room with many pictures of deities and several pieces of worship.

One shelf contains a few pictures of the Lord Ganesha, including statues that my sister and I sculpted in a summer camp which we attended last summer. The shelf also has Kumkum and Manjal, or two powders used for blessings in plastic cans.

This one shelf gives a good overview of my culture because it includes deity statues, religious items, flowers, and other decorations that are used in daily rituals. I hope that this photo will leave people with the feeling that they have expanded their horizons to a brand-new perspective of life.

Sakkarai Pongal is a sweet rice pudding with cream, saffron, and other spices. I enjoy eating this sweet for dessert, especially for special Indian occasions. Scene Photo
Saffron Rice is served for lunch with a side of vegetables and Mattar Paneer, or a curry with cottage cheese cubes and peas. Over the past few weeks, I have been eating a lot more curry for dinner. Scene Photo
There are many stacks of Salwar Suits, or dressy tunics, in my closet. I normally use them when going to the temple or for other religious functions. Scene Photo
My sister dances in a Bharatanatyam, or South Indian Classical dance class, on Zoom every Sunday. As she dances, she moves her feet to the beat of the sounds while smiling in order to embrace a graceful persona. Portrait Photo
This is a close-up of a Pattu Pavadai, or a two-piece dress containing a skirt and a top. This one includes holographic dots outlined with colorful string. Detail Photo
This is another close-up of a Salwar Suit with silky coral fabric and metallic decorations in the shape of a flower. Detail Photo
A painting of the Hindu Goddess Mahalakshmi hangs above my front door. This is a Tanjore Painting, which is a traditional South Indian painting which originated in the town of Thanjavur. Close-Up Photo
A drawer of Amar Chitra Kathas, or Indian Folklore stories about Gods, Goddesses, and other important mythical figures, lies in a file cabinet. These books teach the core values of Hindu culture; at the same time, they tell the stories of these many religious people. Signature Photo
One shelf in my family's prayer room contains many pictures and statues of the Lord Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles. Kumkum and Manjal, powders used for religious markings, are also in two plastic cans. In general, my prayer room has separate areas dedicated to several Gods and Goddesses. Clincher Photo