First off, I left my first host family around a month ago. Needless to say it was one of the most dramatic and depressing experienced of my life! I wish it could have worked out but some people just aren't compatible no matter how hard you try to make the pieces fit. It made me feel better to know that 1/3 of this year's batch have already changed families, and about 80% of students from the last batch changed. (At least that is what I have heard). I am not sure why the family changing rate is so high in Malaysia, but my best guess is because the cultures are so different.
After I left my first host family I went to go stay with another temporary family until they could find my a new permanent family. This time I was to stay with an Indian family. I was excited when I found out I was going to stay with an Indian family (which was about 5 minutes after I left my first host family) because I have been extremely fascinated with the Indian cultures for quite some time! Almost everything about my old and new family were completely different. From the language (the Indians in Malaysia speak Tamil/English), the food, the religion, the customs, everything!!
One thing that I found most interesting was the Hindu religion. My family were extremely active Hindus and went to the center/temple a couple times a week. I was lucky enough to get to tag along for these visits and I was able to learn a lot. The Hindu religion is unlike one I have ever experienced before, it is a lot about symbols and the different aspects of God, the different deities. Each with different powers/meanings. During the ceremonies these use symbols/offerings such as flower garlands, saffron, ash, coconuts, gold, yogurt, fruits, plants, fire, and a few others I'm surely forgetting. All events are extremely complex and even more colourful. The main way the Hindu's worship is with music, so there is always a lot of singing. I really like the singing, even though it can be hard to follow a lot at times because the songs are in Tamil/Sanskrit/Hindi. Each song is led by a different person and everyone is welcome to lead the songs. I was even asked if I wished to lead one, but I unfortunately had to decline because I had never heard the songs before :P
During my stay with the temporary family I continued to go to the same school even though it was more than 20 minutes away because one of my family's neighbors happened to teach at a school near mine so she was able to give me a ride.
When I stayed with this family I got to experience lots of the Indian culture during special events, such a weddings, my host brother's birthday, singing lessons, and a special nine day prayer called Navratri. During the nine day prays my family either went to the center or to the temple each day to worship. The point of the festival is to celebrate the female aspects of God, so the festival is extremely important to, and almost completely organized, by women.
Another big fesitival is right around the corner.....Deepavali! I will also be celebrating with the same family, I can't wait! I will be sure to keep you updated with pictures & more blog updates!
|At a Hindu Temple|
|Me and my host mom, in traditional dress|
|Inside a temple|
|Indian Temple - architecture|
|Wedding decoration, the pattern on the floor is made of rice|
|Bindi, worn by women on the forehead|
|Sai Baba Center - A place for worship and singing|
|Homemade Toasi, the best Indian food!|
|Me, offering flowers at the center during ceremony|
|Offerings at a wedding|