Ancestral history is an important component to all of our stories. Can you tell us about your heritage and how it has influenced who you are today?
I am truly blessed to be standing on the shoulders of giants. My mother and father are doctors who came to the US in the 1950’s (Dad) and 1960’s (Mother) from India. Our family has a history of being a global family with many Westerners who have married into us and as a result we are the blend of multiple cultures and stronger for it. My grandparents on both sides were very successful and highly regarded. I am everything I am in the world because of God and my family. Their hard work and honor along with God’s grace have given me the opportunities I have been fortunate to receive. My mother used to tell us: “We have given you enough to be hungry but not enough to be full” and “You don’t need everything today.” The upshot of all this is that first and foremost they sought to make my sister and I become honorable people and to understand the importance of hard work (i) in school, (ii) in sports and (iii) in relationships. We are born and brought up hillbillies from “Almost Heaven” West Virginia. Growing up there was fantastic because we had “down home” values, but were still able to see and experience the larger world. We learned to work hard, to accept gifts and setbacks with grace and to walk purposefully. I still talk to them every day and seek their counsel and approval frankly.
Are there any unique customs that have been passed down through your family that are still important to you?
One custom that has passed down through our family and we have done with our son and my niece and nephew is a ceremony called Anaprasana. We do it at six months of age (so after Christening) for the boys and at seven months for girls and it’s the first time the child eats solid food. At this ceremony, you place a tray in front of the child with a lump of earth (symbolizing property, also signifies fertility and prosperity for girls), a book (symbolizing learning), a pen (symbolizing wisdom) and a silver coin or a tiny silver box (symbolizing wealth). Family members cheer (read scare) the little one while he or she makes their choice. The traditional belief is that the object picked up by the baby represents his or her area of interest in the future. In our case, Taylor (our son) grabbed both the book and the coin at the same time. We are hoping that this is true for him in life! There we also recite the names of five generations of family who precede the child. In our case, our family tree is documented over 11 generations. It is important to know where you come from to understand where you can go in the future. It shows respect for the sacrifices of prior generations and acknowledges that we are here because of them. Funny thing is that my wife Binky, who is as blonde and blue-eyed a Texas gal as you might imagine, was one of the biggest proponents for doing the Anaprasana ceremony for our son. So the tradition carries on.