Sacred Thread

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

When my father left India to come to New York in the 1980’s, he brought a thread. He didn’t think he was going to stay so he didn’t bring anything in particular such as a small religious statue. However, the importance of this thread was because he is a Brahmin in the caste system, and it symbolizes being “twice born.” At the age of thirteen, he had an Upanayanam (sacred thread ceremony), and began wearing the thread. When my father wears the thread in India, everyone knows he is a Brahmin. In America, he doesn’t wear it because the country is filled with diverse cultures. He also felt that this thread was unnecessary and would question his class. This is an object that signifies my father with his culture. Whether he wears the thread or not, he is always reminded of his family in India. At the age of 18, leaving India alone was difficult but my father wanted to seek better opportunities as he worked at the Delhi Flying Club. I learned that he doesn’t follow all of the rituals but deep inside he says “I am an Indian”. We learn throughout history that people become naturalized, but do immigrants really feel or want to be Americanized? Through my father’s experience, I have learned that people come to America to seek better opportunities but many people later on return to their homeland. As they say in India, there is a (mitti di khushboo) - there was a smell of my own soil. That small thread always keeps him a step closer to home.

Year: 1980

– Pritha Mukherjee

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant