From my daughter, Ruchi, with her permission. A homework assignment, to write a narrative that expresses your identity:

In the hardest time of my life, when I almost died, my spirituality saved me.

When I lived in New Delhi, India, at the Welfare Home for Children, I would hear the auntie/caretaker tell tales about gods and goddesses in Hinduism. She regaled us with stories about how God Vishnu the preserver and protector of the universe, created the other two worlds as represented by Shiva the destroyer, and Brahma the creator of the universe.

Brahma was the god who sat on a lotus, with 3 heads. Shiva had a snake around his neck and would stay on the snowy mountains with his goddess, Parvati, and his son, Ganesha.

The biggest known tale that was told by the auntie was the Ramayan, “Vishnu had taken an incarnation as Lord Ram. Laxmi had taken on an incarnation as Sita, Ram’s wife. Lord Ram came to free the Earth from the power of demons.”

I was so in love with each tale that were told of Hinduism. We believe in reincarnation which means when we die we would be reborn on this earth as someone new forgetting our old selves. But a glimpse of our old selves will show in our new selves.

There would be special holidays to worship the gods and goddess such as Holi, the festival of colors, and Diwali, The festival of lights. Diwali is still my favorite holiday because the houses and streets would be would be lit like a Christmas tree. There would also be presents and fireworks! Even though I lived at an orphanage some of us were chosen to participate in the festivities.

Time after time I would get recurring visions of my gods and goddesses inspiring me to be a good person and put everything into whatever I’m committed. God Vishnu also gives me the knowledge to see gods or goddesses in every person. Hinduism has a special greeting called “namaste,” which means the divine in me bows to the divine in you.

All the holidays for the gods and goddesses makes me proud and devoted to my culture and religion. One lesson I learned from Hinduism is: when anyone you love dies and you pray to your gods to not let them leave this world don’t blame them if your loved ones go away. Just remember, even though they left their bodies their spirits will always be lingering around you and watch over you from wherever they are. They will be born again to meet up with you in their next life for you will never be separated from them.

Because of this experience, I became devoted to my culture and life.

I lived on the streets of India trying to survive alone at the young age of 4, 5 and 6. Later I got captured by the police and sent to an orphanage. During that time I became someone who didn’t see hope or light of my life anymore. My spirit was always strong though and nothing could extinguish it. When I heard those tales and felt so proud of my culture my spirit blazed bigger and farther inside me and a glimmer of hope came back. After 2 years I was taken from the orphanage to a new home in America. I am now becoming someone who believes in the very essence of life.

” In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity. ”
-Erik Erikson