I Participate In My Family’s Traditions, No Matter How Outlandish They May Seem

I Participate In My Family’s Traditions, No Matter How Outlandish They May Seem

These traditions have helped me define myself.


A cold shower at five in the morning tops the list of my least favorite activities, but it has always been a must during puja season. The annual Chhat Puja, one of the oldest traditions of India, requires all family members to be present when worshipping the Sun. Because it is one the of most important Hindu festivals in the state of Bihar, both my parents, both natives of Bihar, celebrate it with unmatched zeal.

Chhat is one of the most amazing festivals that I have been a part of, and being from India, I have witnessed a lot of festivals. Celebration time brings together the entire family in the tiny village of Bihar. By entire family, I mean every person that I share even a percentage of my DNA with. Each year thousands gather at the riverside to sing and dance. Empty grounds are transformed into socio-economic hubs--from hundreds of hawkers selling colorful bangles to traders selling electronics. Everyone comes together to acknowledge their origin. It's Bihar's Christmastime!

But why do we worship the Sun? Apparently, for taking care of every living being. It turns out, Chhat isn't just an annual attempt of the people to please the Sun God, rather it is to thank him for making life possible on Earth. As an 11-year-old, who had been taught that the Sun was nothing but a sphere of gases, I found this celebration rather bizarre. How could a random gas ball be controlling my life like that? So the next time I have a midterm, maybe I should just blow up some balloons and hope that these "gas balls" get me an A.

A significant part of Chhat involves men and women standing in knee-deep waters, offering flowers and praying to the setting sun on the last day of the festival. As I stood there watching my parents embrace the transient nature of daylight and everything else in the world, I realized that these traditions that initially seemed strange weren't actually all that foreign. Over the years, I have found a connection between science and religion, convincing myself that I am thanking the Sun for supporting life on Earth, for the Sunlight, that helps Photosynthesis, for the warmth and for the energy. I guess it's not all that bizarre. It may sound weird, but I enjoy believing it.

As my interest in Bihar's traditions grew, so did my participation. I would listen closely to what the priest would say, take note of the "offerings" my grandmother was making and watch with amazement as the boys jumped into the cold, rushing river.

It amazes me to think that there is only a small group of people in the world who practice this interesting tradition and that I am a part of that group. Being someone who is still in the process of defining myself, participating in Chhat gives me a sense of belonging. These traditions have become a unique part of who I am.

When I think of home, I don't think of a concrete structure. I think of my family, our festivals and our beliefs, which is why I choose to hold on to these beliefs, no matter how outlandish they may seem.

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I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding In Public Is OK In 2019

Sorry, not sorry.


Lately, I have seen so many people going off on social media about how people shouldn't be upset with mothers breastfeeding in public. You know what? I disagree.

There's a huge difference between being modest while breastfeeding and just being straight up careless, trashy and disrespectful to those around you. Why don't you try popping out a boob without a baby attached to it and see how long it takes for you to get arrested for public indecency? Strange how that works, right?

So many people talking about it bring up the point of how we shouldn't "sexualize" breastfeeding and seeing a woman's breasts while doing so. Actually, all of these people are missing the point. It's not sexual, it's just purely immodest and disrespectful.

If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?

If I'm eating in a restaurant, I would be disgusted if the person at the table next to me had their bare feet out while they were eating. It's just not appropriate. Neither is pulling out your breast for the entire general public to see.

Nobody asked you to put a blanket over your kid's head to feed them. Nobody asked you to go feed them in a dirty bathroom. But you don't need to basically be topless to feed your kid. Growing up, I watched my mom feed my younger siblings in public. She never shied away from it, but the way she did it was always tasteful and never drew attention. She would cover herself up while doing it. She would make sure that nothing inappropriate could be seen. She was lowkey about it.

Mindblowing, right? Wait, you can actually breastfeed in public and not have to show everyone what you're doing? What a revolutionary idea!

There is nothing wrong with feeding your baby. It's something you need to do, it's a part of life. But there is definitely something wrong with thinking it's fine to expose yourself to the entire world while doing it. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody cares if you're feeding your kid. Nobody cares if you're trying to make some sort of weird "feminist" statement by showing them your boobs.

Cover up. Be modest. Be mindful. Be respectful. Don't want to see my boobs? Good, I don't want to see yours either. Hard to believe, I know.

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I Always Stood Out Because Of The Color Of My Skin

My peers always pointed out my differences.


It's February and you know what that means? It's Black History Month! Have you ever felt like you stick out? Felt like you don't belong somewhere? Felt awkward when you went to hang-out with friends at their house that are a different skin tone then you? Welcome to my life I did all when I was growing up, but I have learned to branch out of that and being comfortable in my own skin. I always wanted to fit in when I was little around the time I was in elementary school.

I felt like my hair couldn't be different and I didn't really know why my hair was different, I just knew I stood out.

Now do not get me wrong I absolutely loved when my mom would put my hair in braids and would put beads in it. I loved swinging my hair around basically smacking myself in the face with my hair lol! I felt like Beyoncé when I would flick my hair because that what she did and I wanted to be like her. Having a different hair texture also meant that when it wasn't the same as everyone else they wanted to touch it.


You don't know where other's people's hands have been and especially being younger were playing and people stick their hands in their nose and mouth so I definitely didn't want nasty hands in my hair.

In middle school and high school, I remember being in history class and we would talk about slaves / and Africans and African Americans and my peers would put their head up and look at me as if I was there during that time. I mean YES that is my history but I was not there during that time period, and staring at me won't help me. Talking about specific things in class such as discrimination is something I know I could speak on during class because I have witnessed it first-hand.

Being black you almost have to watch your back at all times. By that I mean you need to stand up for what you deserve! People treat you different almost as if you are fragile. On the other hand, some look at you and are waiting for you to snap or act "ghetto" because we are seen with a stereotype and people expect us to act a certain way.

As I became older I started to realize that I am not the same. I am not meant to be the same.

God made me the way I am for a reason.

I am black for a reason. I am beautiful and I am strong. I never want to feel ashamed for who I am and who God created me to be. My black is beautiful. Feeling beautiful in your own skin is important regardless of whatever color you might be.

"Black Power is giving power to people who have not had power to determine their destiny." — Huey P. Newton

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