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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.