I have started to wear a Namaste button in public. This was not without internal struggle – soul searching. First, there was an opposition at home and then from my own conscience, both along the same lines.
When I was naturalized in 1982, the presiding judge told us that you are now not a hyphenated American – a Greek-American or an Indian-American – rather, you are an American. Therefore, is it a good idea to do anything that goes counter to this integration? By wearing this Namaste button sets me apart, but so does my face and I cannot do anything about it and it seems to be okay — so far anyway!
America is supposed to be a melting pot but I am not so sure – it seems like a wok-cooking to me! Look at the rise in hijab-wearing as dramatically illustrated by the transformation at the Cairo University (http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/48901/how-veil-conquered-cairo-university-jamie-glazov). They can be seen everywhere. Whatever are the reasons, we can all agree that there should be absolutely no restriction on how one dresses. (Fortunately, if I try telling a Hindu woman how to dress, that will be the last thing I will do in my pathetic life!)
Therefore, is it Pollyannaish to buy into this melting-pot theory and lose all our identity, fail to promote our values, and instill pride in our young to be a proud Hindu? Just two day ago I had a heart-to-heart conversation on this very topic with one of my Indian friends of longstanding in Chicago who happens to be a Sikh. He mentioned that he and his wife raised their son, who was born in this country, without exposing him to any religion, Indian culture/languages and customs. Now he is married to a white girl (as he put it; I am too but she is not a girl anymore – it was 44 years ago but even more beautiful!) and losing all ties to India and anything Indian. It makes him and his wife sad.
Coming back to the Namaste button, it’s a small step in the direction of connecting with Hinduism. The message of Namaste is the crux of Hinduism and is also very universal — I honor your Divinity – implying that we are all connected, the whole cosmos, and whatever we may do the Mississippi will get back to us sooner or later.
I have pasted below two designs that I handout during the tours at the temple and in high schools. If you may be interested in acquiring one (or more for your friends/relatives), please come by the temple on any Saturday morning.