I was raised in a vibrant Indian community. How I’m trying to build relationships with Hindu friends in America.
“We have turned into the kind of Indians we have always hated.”
I cringed. I couldn’t believe my husband would say something like this—at least out loud. But inside, I agreed.
Though we are both ethnically Indian, I grew up in the Middle East among other Indian immigrants, while my husband was born and raised in India in a town where his family has lived for generations.
We’ve both been living in the United States for nearly two decades now. And while we both wanted to retain ties to our Indian community in the US, over the years, we’ve struggled to keep the connection.
Part of the reason was because we wanted to strengthen our Christian connections. We became increasingly involved in our (predominantly white) church, and our family found it comfortable to stay in our “holy huddle” even if that meant becoming more and more Americanized. But even as we judged others who had forsaken their Indian traditions, we worried we were doing the same.
Something has changed in recent years, though. I have felt God prompting me to cultivate closer relationships with my Hindu Indian friends. I still receive invitations to Diwali and Holi celebrations, and lately I’ve begun to accept these offers.
I’m not interested in worshiping their deities or adopting a syncretistic faith. Rather, I now see that my Indian heritage is a gift that allows me to build relationships with people who share my culture, who intuitively feel comfortable with me. Sometimes that leads to opportunities for me to thoughtfully share about my relationship with God.
After years of trying to find a Christian community in America, I realize I’m now called to lean into the process that the apostle Paul described …