|About Indian Culture
|Study in India
Questions asked about me are on my "about me" page.
About India in General
Q: Do they have any mosquito killing appliance (electricity operated) in Kerala in India?
A: In Chennai I was able to buy two types - a wall plug in called ALL OUT. This works very well, of course when the current is uninterrupted. However, there are also mosquito coils, which can be burnt throughout the night. I don't suggest these as they are very strong scented and can irritate your breathing passages easily. If you are worried about uninterrupted current, you can buy mosquito repellent from US and take it - or buy the Indian ones. You could also take citronella candles from US there to burn as these scents are not so strong. They may be available in India, but I am not sure.
Q: Can you help me estimate how much money to bring to India with me?
A: Currently the rupee is 48.5 to the US dollar. I can help make estimations based on what you would like to buy and where you will go in India.
Q: How are houses built in India?
A: Because it makes the home so cool esp in hot weather. Most houses used to be only one floor with low verandah, but now in cities, it is like any other high rise. But, most homes have a verandah where people hang clothes to dry. Not many homes are made from wood, only in high hills where it gets really cold (it does in Himalayas). Some people also make houses from cheap bricks, and in village, many houses are made from mud with thatched roofs. These houses are a bit dirty when you first in. I don't mean messy but dirty to walk in since it made from mud, but they keep the inside so clean and it is SOOOO cool. In villages mud houses have no windows and some have ceiling fans inside. The cooking stoves are on the outer porch with low sloped down ceiling and they cook with wood, though in some places they do have gas burners. A village I am referring to is about 50 miles from a phone, proper sanitation (as we think of it), continuous electric supply (there is some), hospitals, schools, big stores etc or even place to get vegetables. These people do not own cars, they travel by bullock (male cow) cart and the bus that comes through once in morning and at night.
About Indian Culture:
Q: Do they have other cultural foods there?
A: Yes! There are SO many varieties of Indian foods. They vary from state to state, region to region and even village to village!! The interesting thing is in cities there are so many types of people, your neighbor may eat totally differently from you!!! They base most diets on vegetables. There are lots of meat eaters, but meat is not such a big part of the diet like in the US- more meat is a side dish. To see some photos of food and recipes, see this site:
Q: Have you thought about starting a marriage making service on your site for south Indians around the world? What do you think?
A: I have thought about this - however I am not sure how to do it - or if my browsers would find this service useful.
Q: In the part about wearing a salwar kamiz, you said that you had to sit a certain way so that people can't "peep". Does that mean when you sit, you cant cross your legs or the slits will "open"? I didn't quite get your explanation.
A: Well - the slits, when present, are usually on the sides of the dress from the bottom hem to mid thigh to waist. One must not allow the dress to creep up above the knee. For instance, make sure it is always down where it should be as if you were standing. Don't lift the dress to show the pants underneath. Like in US some women lift long skirts when they walk or sit - don't do this in any Indian clothes (salvaar top or sari) it is considered very inappropriate.
You can cross your legs while wearing the salvaar kamiz but make sure that the top of the dress is covering your legs, at least as much as possible. This is especially true when the underpant (salvaar) is a bit transparent.
Q: Can you tell me when Diwali is this year?(2002)
A: The date for diwali this year according to the below website is: November-4-2002
Q: Hi can you tell me about Hindu- the religion? I want to know what they follow, what gods they have etc. do they a bible, sorry I have no idea what they practice, so don't get mad at me for being ignorant. Since I don't want to be ignorant about Hindu's can you tell me about it. Is it a religion?
A: Hindus do not have one holy book- there are many. The
most popular that come to my mind immediately are the
Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabhartha.
From outside it seems that Hindus believe in many gods. The way I can explain it is this - in this world we have many languages. For instance if I want 'water' in USA, I say the English word, if I want water in France, I say the French word, in China, the Chinese word etc. It is not that the different languages express different concepts - it is all the same, it is just seen and expressed differently by different people. Similarly, the Hindus have ONE god- Brahma. From him stem many GODS - basically different personalities of the main God. For instance, when you want to pray for wealth- pray to Goddess Lakshmi, if you want to remove obstacles, pray to Lord Ganesha, if you want to pray for learning, pray to Goddess Saraswathi. Like that, it is really all the same, it is seen as different parts of the supreme. Is it understandable?
Hinduism is not really a religion. It is more a way of life. It has been considered a religion since people feel compelled to 'convert' out of it to be Christian or Muslim or other faiths. But Hindus can remain Hindu and pray to Jesus or gods of any faith. There is no real conversion into Hinduism - not like to Christianity. Hinduism is not so rigid as other belief systems - you can believe in GOD or go to temple, church, mosque, etc or you can do absolutely nothing - even be an atheist - and still be Hindu. It is all in how you treat yourself and others due to the philosophy- karma (good action- you reap what you sow) and dharma (your duties and station in life in regards to karma). Is it understandable? I know it is confusing. Even sometimes I still stand
back and think twice.
ON the same note, you may be interested. India has a lot of Muslims. They have a law where Muslim men (women can not marry out of the religion) can only marry 'kitabe' women. In Hindi or Urdu Kitab means
book. This means that Muslim men can only marry women who come from religions where a book is the main tool of worship. Hence, Muslim men are permitted to marry Christians and Jews (or other such religions) but not Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, etc as they are required to use books to convey their religion.
Q: Is sati still performed today?
A: I think it may be in remote places in India, but as for the cities where I stayed I did not hear of this. However, there is a syndrome called "stove burst syndrome". This is a bit complex, but it simply goes like this (if it can be told simply)! A man and woman are married. The woman mysteriously gets badly to seriously burnt (even death can happen). The man will say it is due to the stove bursting in her face (the stoves in India are a little different than here).
But sometimes the man or man's family can try to set the woman on fire for various reasons - ie. she can't produce sons, she can't give enough dowry, etc, I have seen women who have lived through this with my own eyes. But please do not think this means that ALL Indian women are treated badly, it is just like in any country - domestic abuse exists everywhere, just the degree and type varies.
Q: Does Hinduism accept sexuality other than heterosexuality?
A: This I can't comment on I do not know. However, Indian society does frown heavily on that. Bombay and Delhi I have heard accept it to some small extent, but mostly only rich westernized Indians will claim difference.
Answer from Lingeshwar - 10/24/02
I thought I'd tell you that although I am a heterosexual, and although Sadhus are generally thought to be above sexuality or better said to be attempting to conquer their kundalini powers, my Guru was and is a homosexual. Just thought that might interest you. This hasn't seemed to affect his devotees or him.
Answer from Amol - 3/26/03
Nowadays homosexuality is considered evil(??) in India. But if you
look at Kamsutra which was written in India some 1800 years ago. It talks about homesexuality. It doesn't consider it evil either. But later on first when Muslims invaded India & then victorian British. They changed the viewpoint towards sexuality in general. Actually the fact is when one of British officer was exploring in south of India he came across a temple which had statues of people engaged in sexual activities. He was stunned!
Khajuraho one of the famous hindu temples (In Orrisa if I am not wrong) has several such statues. But in a way people in India don't really think about homosexuality. In India if two friends are walking holding their hands then thats considered alright actually no one really bothers. But here in western countries you know its not very common!
Q: What is the Hindu view on same gender marriage, does Hinduism allow it?
A: I don't know much about this. Again, Indian society would not accept it.
Q: Is arranged marriage a common thing still in Hinduism (or has it faded out)?
A: Arranged marriages are not only common in Hinduism but among all faiths in India. It is slowly fading in some respects. But, overall it is widely practiced and propagated, where as 'love marriages' are heavily frowned upon.
Q: Can you tell me about Lakshmi Puja? Do you know songs or prayers for this Goddess?
A: Hello. Sorry about delay in reply. This Friday (August 16, 2002) is Varalakshmi puja. Usually goddess puja is honored by women. I am sure there must be a Hindu temple near you, maybe you can see the festivities. If you would like more information on this puja here are two websites:
This particular puja is famous in South India (ie Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh).
I am sorry to say I do not have details on songs or prayers, I hope the above websites can help.
Q: If I am a Christian, can I marry a Hindu or a non- Christian?
A: That is up to you and the person you decide to marry.
Please consider the following:
1. How much you are attached to your religion?
2. How much is the other person (your to-be) attached to his religion, if it is different?)
3. How much can you and that person compromise on faith based issues?
4. How should the kids be raised?
I have met people who have interreligious marriages. It can be a challenge, but it can be a very open experience if both persons are willing to compromise and not 'convert' the other into their way of faith or hinder or stop the other from believing what they believe. It becomes more complex with kids.
Studies in India
Q: That's really cool, you went to a Christian college, how was it?
A: I enjoyed it a lot. College life there is totally different from the USA.
Q: How much did it cost? Is it expensive living in India?
A: The tuition and hostel (dorm) rent is very inexpensive compared to USA. That is if you are the student of the Indian college. If you go through exchange program in the US- you will pay same if not more in dollars. To give an idea --
Tuition -class fee only -- about Rs1200 per semester ($30 US)
Exam fees - paid separately -- about Rs800-1000 per semester (about $25 US)
Hostel fees (dorm) paid monthly -- about Rs 800-1000 per month including boarding and food and utilities
For full two years - including tuition, hostel, exam and personal fees I spent about US$2,000 - this doesn't include my air fares. Usually you can get a round trip from US to India for about US $1200.00 plus.
Q: I was thinking about going to college in India. But then I won' t be able to get a job in America is that true that if you study outside of America, you can't find work here?
A: I did find it difficult to find a job here. But that was also due to economic condition. It may also depend on what you study?
Q: What languages did you need to know to study in India?
A: India has 15 recognizable languages according to the constitution, however, luckily most colleges in India teach in English. This was the case in my college. Our classes on campus were in English, but our field work was in the local language, Tamil, since the slum dwellers generally don't know English fluently or at all.
I was hoping that you could enlighten me on how it was for you attending a college in India? I want to study there, too. What should I expect? Should I re-brush up on my Hindi? I only have a limited vocabulary, and grammar usage ability. Accreditation issues, too, are a concern. How hard is curriculum there. I here it is much harder than here. Did you stay in a dormitory? Was your schooling a study abroad program from an American school? I'm definitely curious.
My opinions, advice and facts may not be 100% 'correct'. If anyone out there has anything to add, please feel free to contact Jayanthi
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