Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Student Post: Jake Maude on Homestays!

A few weeks ago, we posted a bunch on homestays. Jake, our lone male student, had a fantastic homestay experience. Jake has been busy with classes, playing in a band at school and making friends (he hangs out a lot with Poornith, his peer mentor) and entertaining the group with his hilarious sense of humor, but we finally got a few paragraphs out of him to share with you all.
Jake and a young friend made during his homestay!
Last weekend Sandeep, Cynthia, Raya and Ethan were kind enough to invite me into their home. Yet again, I found the rumors of India’s superior hospitality to be true. The family served me a variety of Indian cuisine, including delicious dosas and spicy tandoori.

I also got a taste of Indian culture. In one of my classes at BACAS I learned about a ceremony in which a lady who is seven months pregnant is given bangles. Little did I know I would be able to attend such an event with my host family. The soon-to-be Hindu mother was presented with exotic fruits, then had turmeric paste dabbed on to her cheek by doting relatives and friends, as well as red cumin paste dotted onto her forehead. She was given numerous bangles, which sat in a bowl by the fruit. The bangles are for the baby to listen to as the mother goes about her day so that the baby will become used to the sound and bustle of the world. After seeing the ceremony guests were served five types of rice. When I asked “Why five types” the question actually started a (friendly) debate among the family members, the consensus being that the rice is eaten by the mother and guests so that the baby gets a taste of the delicious food that the world has to offer.

Afterwards my host family and I quickly went to a second event – this one a Hindu baby naming. In Hindu families there is a process that can last as many as five months in which astrologists consult the stars at the exact moment the child was born and come up with a name based on what they discover about the cosmos at that moment. The family celebrates the naming with a feast at which the name is announced to the friends and family.

My host family told me that it is not unusual for them to attend a few events like this every week, since in India the family and friend ties are so close. It was wonderful to experience these Indian celebrations and the accompanying hospitality. I hope to practice hospitality in the same way. As the Indian proverb goes, Atithi Devo Bhavah, or “The guest is God”. 
Photo and text courtesy of Jake Maude.

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