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The White Hindu has moved! This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Questions from a New Reader

Some of these are new questions and some are evolving answers. Always feel free to ask me questions by email or in the comments. I'm happy to turn these ideas into more of a discussion than just me prattling on about things. And I can always use fresh ideas for new blog posts (don't worry, though, I haven't forgotten my promise of an updated post about caste, it's waiting in the wings).

1. Do you eat meat? Why or why not? I already did not eat red meat before my enthusiasm for conversion to Hinduism, but early on I gave up all meat and have been all the better for it. Do you give feed with cow in it to your pet(s)?

I have a post about Indian and Hindu things that I don't follow here.
There I discuss that I am not a vegetarian. However, my feelings about it have started changing. In the last couple of months I have felt compelled toward vegetarianism. The thought of eating beef bothers me on some kind of emotional level now. I don't know what brought that on. Perhaps just the fact that this blog has caused me to spend a lot more time in thoughts about my religion and my religious practices.

It is still not practical for me to turn vegetarian, so I'm waiting to see how my feelings about it evolve.

My boyfriend eats meat and he cooks meat for me (we enjoy cooking for each other). I am already a very picky eater, so I don't want to take away from him such a huge number of potential things for him to cook. I tried to find some soy fake-meat to use instead, but so far I haven't been able to find anything that would correctly match the texture of beef.

2. Do you use henna? I personally love it! Makes my hair feel so much more natural, too.
I just started using henna to dye my hair. I haven't decided yet if I'll put indigo over it to make it more black or leave it red (with my hair, the length is a very dark brown, but I have a lot of grey and I dye to cover that). Right now I have red hair in the front and black for the rest because it dyed my white hairs red!

I have been using a chemical dye on my hair for the last eight years, and a couple of concerns came up with that. There's the fear that putting harsh chemicals on my head so frequently could be causing damage to my brain or my nervous system. Also, I am obsessed with super long hair and have always wanted to have hair at least to my knees. I'm finally going for that goal, so I wanted to use a dye that would be gentler and more natural for my hair.

Some people have told me to just grow it out with the grey, but I hate having grey hair. For one, it washes out my pale face and for another I'm only 28 years old. I went grey at around 20.

So far, I love the henna. It's a lot of work to apply, but I really like what it has done for my hair. It is beautiful.

So anyway, that has nothing to do with Hinduism, but hair is another one of my hobbies!

3. Does it bother you that your partner does not share the same faith, or do you embrace it? Is his mind open to the philosophy? Would you allow your children to have dual-faith rearing?
As I said in my post about why I don't just marry an Indian, I haven't had any luck finding a partner with a similar religion. In the past I've tried to date Christians and it has caused huge problems, even though we would both be very spiritual people. I've had a lot better luck with atheists. I've found them to be very respectful of my beliefs.

Especially my current boyfriend. He loves what we jokingly call "this whole Indian thing" (that's what one of my exes cited as a reason to break up with me: "You have this whole Indian thing going on"). My current boyfriend encourages me to continue with my religious practices, enjoys celebrating holidays with me, thinks Ganesha is awesome, and looks up and studies any Hindu or Indian thing that I happen to mention. Often he teaches me things!

We're very serious about getting married soon and starting a family. We've discussed how to handle being inter-religious as a family. We have a plan, but who knows how that will last once kids actually arrive?

The plan is that we will raise our children Hindu. They will go to temple and Chinmaya with me, we will celebrate Hindu holidays as a family, etc. When they get to be an age when they can reason and understand, probably around ten or eleven, then we will let them know that their father is an atheist. He can explain to them what that is and why he believes what he does.

I would insist that the children continue to practice Hinduism until they are 16. At that time they are free to no longer go to temple if they don't want to, etc. I will let them know that whatever makes them happy is fine with me and they can leave Hinduism, come back, do whatever. It is their life at that point. (Although it will break my heart if they become evangelical Christians, but even if they do, I won't criticize and I won't make a big deal of it, because the most important thing is to keep my children close to me).

I am curious to see what it will be like that my children will be in a very different religion from their Catholic cousins. Should be an interesting journey.

4. Is there a region of India you feel is the most beautiful? I've only been there two times, but I did appreciate the south a little more than the north.
I have not been able to visit India yet, which really upsets me. I'm longing to go. I would like to visit the North because of the holy sites there, however my parents have a guru in the South, so if they go again I'll tag along with them. I almost had an opportunity to go this summer, but I had to give it up because of financial constraints.

Sorry if the questions got too personal. It's interesting to find someone else on a similar journey to mine, although I think I am much older than you are (48). Good luck!

If you would like to tell your story here, I'd be happy to have another voice. Feel free to send an email to with your story and I'll see if I can guest post it!

And don't worry too much about asking personal questions. I don't know if it's me or my generation or what, but I'm an open book. I'm happy to tell people just about anything about me.


  1. Thank you for answering my questions.

    Hair at least to your knees! Wow! That takes some special genes, actually. Mine is classic length, but I know many people whose terminal length is much shorter than that, no matter what they do. So, don't be too hard on yourself if it can't possibly be knee length, because almost nobody is physically able to do that. Here's hoping, though!

    Don't be hard on yourself that you haven't been to India yet. It is a trip of privilege, very expensive. Although the country feels like a second home, part of me does feel quite down when I am there, because there is so much poverty, unlike anything we know in the United States. People can't afford things we take for granted every day. I wanted to give them my toiletries, my clothes, but it would have only helped a small handful of people, when millions and millions and millions need more. I would like to move to India permanently to be a humanitarian volunteer, but perhaps that is just a dream. My daughter has already graduated from college though, so it may be a little easier for me to pick up and go someday.

    It is your choice, but I believe it is a little strange that you will require your future children to be Hindus until they are almost college age. If my parents had required me to be Catholic until 16, I would have been horribly resentful. One thing I love about my parents is that when they saw that I did not appreciate going to Mass when I was young, they let me explore my own spirituality and gave me many books about different religions and alternative spiritual practices. I was age 9 at the time. Teaching children morality is important, but even children need freedom to seek their own paths, in my humble opinion, and you can't but an age restriction on that.

    Congratulations on finding a man who is dedicated to you and is open-minded. How long have you been together? Do you have other Hindu friends who will be willing to help you map out the wedding ceremony?

    Oh, my story is not interesting at all. I'm not kidding. Thank you again for answering my questions though.

  2. Hi Amba ,
    You wrote ("Although it will break my heart if they become evangelical Christians")
    Can you become an evangelical Christian?. I know your answer will be a "BIG NO" or "Never" . Just think, why you can't accept Christianity , You explain the same reasoning to your children - it is very simple.

  3. Lurker here who knows your boyfriend. I really hope this doesn't sound preachy, since we vegetarians get bashed a lot for that:

    It is much easier to accept vegetarianism embracing the idea that vegetables and tofus cannot taste and have the texture of meat, just like meat cannot taste and have the taste texture of vegetables. Some people do not buy/eat processed fake-meats (Boca, etc.) because they do not want to condone meat as superior, although admittedly I buy them and am pleased with them. I could give you the names of some that I really like if you want them. There are many, MANY more vegetables than meats in the world, and thus so many options for preparation that I'd never get bored of my food. For me personally, not eating meat is not a sacrifice, it is a step forward to making as little a negative footprint on the earth as is possible.

    You're your own strong person (all your progress has shown that so many times over), even while being a provider and someone being provided for in a relationship. Your boyfriend has an open mind and good heart, and I seriously think he would support you and adapt if you decided you wanted to try a new diet for religious and ethical reasons. I doubt it is that impractical. He's kidded around about becoming a vegetarian himself several times over the last few years...

    As far as pickiness goes, my own boyfriend is the pickiest eater of anyone I've ever met in my life, and he's been a vegetarian for most of a decade. He was the one who influenced me to become one, four and a half years ago now.

    A tangential question: Are you in proximity to Indian grocery stores? I'm very lucky to be close to one here, and to have other large grocery stores with very great Indian ingredient (not just pre-prepared food) sections.


  4. Awesome, lots of good stuff in the comments!

    So first, I know that my dream of knee-length hair is probably not going to happen. But I'm going to let it do its best! I'll keep it healthy and just keep growing until it won't do it anymore.

    My idea about keeping my children in religion until 16 came from my own parents. When I started getting whiney and tired about going, they told me that when I was 16 I would have a choice. Having that end point helped me deal with going and then when I reached 16 I decided I wanted to keep with it. However, my boyfriend also said he was concerned about resentment over that, so we'll try to play it by ear and gauge our kids and how they're handling things to see if we should push them or not.

    My boyfriend and I have been together not even one year yet. We're very serious, though! I get accused of moving too fast in relationships a lot. We'll see how it goes, but we do seem really well suited to each other. When the time comes, I look forward to sharing wedding ideas and plans with you all and hopefully getting some help and advice.

    In terms of vegetarianism, I don't even really feel like I want meat substitutes anymore. It's weird, but I'm not desiring meat at all (I was a vegetarian for two years in college and it was the same then, the desire for meat just vanished). I thought if I could find some meat substitutes, it would make a transition better because he could keep cooking meatloaf and things like that. However, after reading this post, my boyfriend did say that he loves me and would be happy to try cooking only vegetarian if I feel strongly about it ethically. I'm so grateful for that and I think we're going to give it a try, see what happens!

    And yes, we are extremely close to Desi Bazaar, a delightful little Indian grocery store. When I have the energy for it, I do cook a lot of Indian food on my nights to cook.

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. It's really helpful for me!

  5. So much good luck with the try. I'm totally not surprised that he's supportive, because he's a good guy. I wish I was a better cook so that I could give you a lot of ideas. However, your boyfriend has a vegetarian friend in Canada who has is an absolutely wonderful cook, and she always loves to share her recipes.

    I'm glad you have an Indian grocery store there too. I don't get as much out of it as you do surely, but there's always great things there, and spices in bulk!