How Indians settled abroad are no longer being apologetic about showcasing their Hindu roots

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas shared a photograph of a small temple with the idol of Ganpati in it. The second one shows her daughter Malti Marie, who is holding a Ganpati toy. Shared on Instagram, these photographs were clicked during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. Fans appreciated the actress for keeping Indian traditions alive in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband Nick Jonas and their daughter. Chopra Jonas is not the only one of her kind at a time when many celebrities are stepping out of the shadows to share photographs of private pujas. Such photographs are far more natural and convincing compared to annual celebrity appearances during festivals. These personal moments reveal their pride in their traditions, and they do not hesitate to share them with their fans and followers.

Twenty-three-year-old all-rounder Rachin Ravindra, a Hindu boy born in Wellington to parents of Indian origin, wears the Black Cap on the cricket field. Rachin, whose first name is a portmanteau of Rahul (Dravid) and Sachin (Tendulkar), hit the headlines after sharing a video that went viral on social media. The gifted cricketer met his grandmother in Bengaluru during the ICC Cricket World Cup. In the video, he is sitting in an old-fashioned chair in what seems like a living room. The elderly lady is performing the ‘nazar utarna’ ritual (an age-old Hindu ritual performed to ward off the evil eye) to ensure the well-being of her grandson, who has distinguished himself in the prestigious tournament.

The caption accompanying the video read: “Jai Shree Ram. Blessed to have such an amazing family. Grandparents are angels whose memories and blessings stay with us forever.” What was evident was the cricketer’s respect for his grandparents and his Hindu identity, which he shared with his followers on social media. Many appreciated the youngster’s attachment to his cultural and religious roots despite living in distant Wellington, whose distance by flight from New Delhi is more than 12,500 kilometres.

Much has changed since the not-so-distant past when many well-known Hindus from all walks of life resorted to plain fakeness, or at least partial hypocrisy, during any focus on their identity. They preferred to blow their pseudo-secular trumpets from the rooftops for the world to hear. Avenues for self-expression have increased since then, and so has the desire to proclaim one’s deep-rooted attachment to one’s identity without being evasive, uneasy and diffident.

In a video shared by the World Hindu Congress’s X (formerly Twitter) handle, off-break bowler Keshav Maharaj, a South African Hindu cricketer, has expressed his support for the World Hindu Congress 2023 (WHC 2023) to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from November 24-26. Born in Durban and married to Lerisha Munsamy, a kathak dancer of Indian origin like him, Maharaj has expressed his disappointment at not being able to attend the event because of the World Cup in which his team South Africa has stormed into the semifinals. He wished the organisers well and concluded with ‘Jai Shree Ram.’ Maharaj’s great-great-grandfather had migrated to South Africa from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Born in Durban generations later, his sense of pride in his background is evident.

Rishi Sunak, the United Kingdom’s first Indian Prime Minister, made news after taking his oath as a Member of Parliament on the Bhagavad Gita. Well-known for his commitment to his faith, Sunak visited the Akshardham temple with his wife Akshata Murty ahead of the visit of G20 leaders this year. He reportedly said, “My wife and I were delighted to visit Swaminarayan Akshardham for darshan and puja this morning. We were amazed and awed by the beauty of this temple and its universal message of peace, harmony, and becoming a better human being. This is not only a place of worship, but a landmark that also portrays India’s values, culture and contributions to the world.” What he added should make every Indian happy, “We see today in Britain these very same values and culture through the positive contributions the British Indian community makes to our country.”

It is important to be proud of who we are. No less important is the need to express it. The voice of an assertive and confident culture with its ancient values and traditions is resonating everywhere, which will make all right-thinking Indians smile.

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