How do an Indian Hindu feel about a “convert” Hindu following the Indian culture with their path?

I know the path of Sanatana dharma is a path of oneself and their own way but I do not like the idea of taking It from its roots from India so I follow with the Indian culture since it makes me feel like it is a form of cultural appropriation


Answer by Raakhee Venugopal:

When we visited the Thillai Nataraja Temple at Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu this year, I saw a group of Japanese devotees offering their prayers at the sanctum sanctorum. While they could have worn any non-vulgar dress, I was pleasantly surprised to see them all dressed in traditional sarees or dhoties. The women had adorned their hair with strings of jasmine flowers and had worn bindis on their foreheads too. They stood in front of the Lord, their eyes closed and their lips murmuring Om Namah Shivaya. They knew all the pujas and the rituals being conducted and though they were talking to the priests in English, their conversation was interspersed with words like prasaadam, archanai, Swami, abhishekam. I couldn’t help but smile to myself. I felt so happy.

Earlier when we visited Madurai Meenakshi temple, we saw a couple of white girls (pale skin, blue eyes, blonde hair and all) who had come to offer their prayers at the temple in Kanjivaram silk sarees, wearing silver anklets and with jasmine strings in their hair. They looked perfectly at ease in an attire that was new to them and didn’t care two hoots about all the people staring at them in disbelief.

Bharatanatyam danseuse Paris Laxmi (born Myriam Sophia Lakshmi Quinio in Aix-en-Provence, France) is a near-perfect example of someone who has imbibed Indian culture so much into her life
In her dancer avatar

 

On her wedding day to noted Kathakali artist Pallipuram Sunil

I just feel utmost respect for these people…so much so that I feel like walking up to them and just telling them ‘Thank you’. They seem to have understood and adopted our culture and our traditions with a much larger heart and with much more understanding than any of these new-gen Indians who are screaming for all our traditions to be thrown out the window saying that they were misogynistic, regressive and out-dated, without knowing or appreciating what they are attempting to destroy.

And then there were Indians come to temples wearing clothes that would make one wonder if they were on an excursion to Hawaii or if they had come to a place of worship. But we aren’t allowed to ask such questions for if we do, we’d get attacked by activists who say ‘what does it matter what we wear? which book prescribes what should be worn to which temple? tell us the chapter number and the line number. who are you to tell us what we ought to wear? does wearing a saree or a dhoti ensure more devotion than wearing a pair of jeans? blah-blah-blah…’

It is true that there are many people who follow Sanatana Dharma without any form of cultural appropriation. Sanatana Dharma has many facets to it, many of which can be understood only if there is a certain level of cultural appropriation. I don’t say that one should walk around in traditional Indian wear 24×7. But following those aspects of our culture that you are comfortable following is totally fine, in my opinion.

How do an Indian Hindu feel about a “convert” Hindu following the Indian cultural with their path?

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