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Day 12 | Right to choose a religion (or not)

12 Jan

Abbas and I never felt the need to talk to Mantam about religion till they turned 5. We would celebrate Eid, Diwali and Christmas every year with the same cheer and fervour. We did speak to them about God but never specified a name per se. We did pray together as a family once in a while and we just spoke aloud, requested God to keep our family and friends safe, healthy and happy. Tammu would even add “God, I wish you a lot of happiness” So that was it. Also during the festivities, we never worshipped any God, nor followed any specific traditional customs. We had our own customizations. On Eid however, Abbas’s parents would coax him to go to a mosque and offer prayers. He would do it just for their sake. Apart from that, Eid meant Biryani, Sweet Semiya and Mehndi for us. Diwali meant sweets, lighting diyas and crackers while Christmas meant decorating the tree, waiting for gifts from Santa and making the traditional Fruit Cake and distributing it among loved ones. Having said that, we also practised and taught Mantam to always respect other festivals and take part in it enthusiastically whenever presented with an opportunity.

Then came the time when we felt the need to speak to them about religion. Mantam were playing in the apartment park in Bangalore last year. There were a bunch of kids mostly elder than them. One of the boys started asking all kids what their religion was. All kids answered confidently while Mantam had no clue about what he was talking about. He ignored them after they didn’t answer the second time he asked and moved on. While I was a spectator to this and was tempted to answer on my daughters’ behalf, it did hit me hard that they might face the same situation in my absence. That night Abbas and I decided that the time was ripe to explain to them about religion. The next day we had a light and open talk with them.

Abbas: Mantam, Baba and Mumma need to talk about something very important. So listen carefully and ask us if you don’t understand

Mantam: Ok

Abbas: We want to tell you about something called religion. It just so works that there are different religions in this world and people follow one of those. For example, my family follows Islam while Mumma’s follows Hinduism

Mantam: What is the difference Baba?

Me: It’s just that each religion has their own ideas and rules (Those were the easiest words to suit their vocabulary) Now, since Baba was born in a Muslim family he became one automatically. Same with me. But now that Mumma and Baba came from different religion and married one another and you do not belong to any one particular religion. Baba and I have decided that we will not follow any religion too and just live our lives as good human beings. But you both are free to choose what you want to follow once you are 18 years old.

Man: I want to be Muslim (She loves Abbas and always tried to do things to please him)

Tam: I want to be Hindu. Err… what other choices are there?

Abbas: Mantam, someone at school or anywhere else might ask you what is your religion. All you have to tell them is humanity. If they further ask you what is humanity, reply by saying that humanity is about being good human beings, being helpful and kind towards other people and environment.

They did have many questions later which we answered but I just remember the gist of the conversation. But at the end of it, they did get the essence.

When we were filling up their forms for school admission in Sydney, there was an option to select “No religion” and we did that. Their school being one of the most multicultural schools, has religious scripture classes every Tuesday. Parents were given an option to choose any one of the religious scriptures or choose for non-scripture class where a teacher would be conducting some activities for kids who did not attend scripture classes. No prizes for guessing that we opted for the latter.

When it comes to food, I am very adventurous when it comes to trying out all available options. Abbas was a bit apprehensive initially. But after having eaten Bacon-Cheese bread by compulsion, there was no looking back for him. So, we have been eating anything and everything without any restrictions at all.

While we live our lives as per our own values and beliefs, we do firmly follow the ideology that we must not ridicule other’s beliefs. I think that there is no right or wrong here. To each his own! But only as long as one does not thrust one’s beliefs on others. Abbas and I would be happy with Mantam’s choices too as long as they turn into good human beings!

What are your thoughts on teaching kids traditions and customs? I would love to hear different perspectives.

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21 Comments

Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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21 responses to “Day 12 | Right to choose a religion (or not)

  1. Maya

    January 12, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    I loved the way you explained it to Man-Tam, Seema. Also, loved the fact that there was an option of ‘no religion’ in ManTam’s Sydney school! 🙂

    My kids still don’t know what religion they belong to. Subconsciously, whenever we meet our parents/in-laws, they’ve learnt some customs and all, but I am not sure they know the difference between one religion and another. They are aware of God, but only as someone who keeps a check over them! 😀 Wait.. I should stop typing a long comment here and start typing out a post only. Blogathon. Crie!

    Like

     
    • Seema

      January 13, 2015 at 10:40 am

      Thanks Maya. Now I can’t wait for your post. I’m eagerly looking forward to reading it.

      Like

       
  2. anisnest

    January 12, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    that’s really nice of you both to agree on a mutual decision about a strong social matter and pass it on to mantam in a beautiful way!
    “Abbas and I would be happy with Mantam’s choices too as long as they turn into good human beings!” – there cannot be a better choice at all..
    humanity stands first always for me too personally!!

    Like

     
    • Seema

      January 13, 2015 at 10:42 am

      Wasn’t that the purpose of all religions in the first place? It’s sad that today the purpose is entirely defeated with people creating ruckus in the name of God.

      Thanks Ani. Good to know your point of view

      Like

       
  3. journeyofmythoughts

    January 12, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    That was an amazing idea to not follow any religion in specific and adapt everything good they had to offer. I think you guyz are doing an amazing job parenting those little people. One day, when I have a family of my own, I will for sure try to follow your lead.

    Like

     
    • Seema

      January 13, 2015 at 10:43 am

      Thanks a ton Sahasra. Feeling elated to have inspired you too.

      Liked by 1 person

       
  4. Smitha

    January 12, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Seema, We are like agnostics. We have been giving the same message to Daughter, that humanity is this most important thing. The right to choose a religion or not, is to me the most important aspect of a free society. Lets hope our children grow up into a more tolerant and accepting society.

    Like

     
    • Seema

      January 13, 2015 at 10:44 am

      ‘Lets hope our children grow up into a more tolerant and accepting society.’ – Amen to that. Well said Smitha.

      Like

       
  5. simple girl

    January 12, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    I have never thought about how to teach kids about religion or something…

    But all I can say is that whatever you are doing it is so so right and correct and perfect.

    That is what I feel… 🙂

    Like

     
    • Seema

      January 13, 2015 at 10:45 am

      Thank you so much Simple Girl.

      Like

       
  6. lifeslittletwists

    January 12, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    Beautiful…lovely lovely post-nothing could be better than ‘humanity’ religion

    Like

     
  7. aarya

    January 13, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Read this post last night..but couldn’t comment then. I loved this post. I agree with the idea of Humanity as the religion. And the lines – “While we live our lives as per our own values and beliefs, we do firmly follow the ideology that we must not ridicule other’s beliefs. I think that there is no right or wrong here. To each his own! But only as long as one does not thrust one’s beliefs on others.” – it was as if I was saying those.
    ‘Never judge someone for not following a religion and never mock someone for following one’ – is how I say it.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Seema

      January 14, 2015 at 10:00 am

      ‘Never judge someone for not following a religion and never mock someone for following one’ – wow, you put that beautifully. Feeling so good to know so many like minded people. We must bring a new generation which more tolerant, accommodating and peace-loving

      Liked by 1 person

       
  8. Roopa

    January 14, 2015 at 8:35 am

    As you know I am too on same boat as you. My son is too young to understand religion yet. My daughter knows that me and her daddy follow different religion. When my MIL visits, she teaches her some of her daddy’s religion while I teach her mine through Rama/krishna’s stories on youtube. My MIL/FIL take the kids to marcus sometimes while I take them to temple. So she has idea about both though we have not imposed any religion on her.As you pointed out, it will be their decision in the end.As long as they live a righteous life, I don’t care much which religion they follow.

    PS: Here in USA, when we say we are Indian, people assume that we are Hindus…I am totally ok with that… lol 😛

    Like

     
    • Seema

      February 3, 2015 at 10:33 pm

      Lol on the PS 🙂 And like you said as long as they live a righteous life, nothing else matters. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Roopa. Good to know different perspectives, specially from people sailing on the same boat 🙂

      Like

       
  9. manasaprasad

    January 14, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed reading this post, very beautifully written and well thought-out. I loved the way you handled the difficult situation of explaining religion to the kids with simple words. I’m so glad you recorded the conversation in a blog post. It is concrete now.

    “Multicultural parenting” must be so hard. You can help ease the stresses of other parents like you with your posts. Please do mail this to a newspaper or magazine, if possible. I’m sure it will be widely appreciated.

    I haven’t started teaching my kids about religion yet. They are still below 5 years of age. But what I do is I let my actions speak as they learn better from imitating their adults at this stage: I am friendly towards people from all religions n all walks of life. I dont criticize the practices and beliefs of the people around me. We travel a lot to learn about different places and cultures. We watch our words n actions as the kids are always emulating us.

    Like

     
    • Seema

      February 3, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Yes, I absolutely agree with you. The best way to teach kids anything is for the parents to practise it themselves and there would be no need to preach. I’m late in replying to the comment but I was so happy to read that this post struck a chord with you.

      Do you seriously think I should mail this to a newspaper or magazine?

      Liked by 1 person

       
  10. Little Fingers

    January 18, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Chucky doesn’t know the religion yet. Though she knows lot of god exist.she is at a point where she notices the skin color especially after we moved to new city.

    Like

     
    • Seema

      January 20, 2015 at 8:17 am

      Yeah, I read about it in a couple of your posts. Hope she overcomes this phase very soon, which Im sure she will. She is a very mature girl

      Like

       

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