Home » A reflection on my culture

A reflection on my culture

Howdy Folks!

Happy Lunar New Year of the Fire Rooster! Do you feel the fire in the air?! 😀

I was in meditation early this morning and contemplated how the lunar new year is such an odd holiday for me. I always feel like an outsider while the society expect me to be an insider. 

My ancestors might come from the main land. But being the Nth generation Indonesian Chinese and being fully raised as an Indonesian who then left home quite early in her life, I don’t feel much connection to the Chinese culture at all.

I remember feeling weird in my late teens when for the first time my parents decided to join in the celebration by giving us angbow. I mean, I was grateful for the money and its symbolism, but there was a question in my head that went “why are you giving me money all of a sudden?”. It felt, and still feels like I’m borrowing someone else’s culture.

I have to thank Singapore for sharing with me about the Chinese culture and for friends who invited me to my first Lo Hei a couple years ago. I think one of the most beautiful idea in a lunar new year is the Reunion dinner, where family near and far gather and eat together before the day full of festivities and visiting begins. My family doesn’t and had never done a reunion dinner.

But yes, despite my eagerness of learning the culture (i’m generally a lover of understanding other cultures), I’m well aware that this is not my heritage. I remember feeling liberated and ecstatic when in a Singapore application form, I could finally put down “Indonesian” as my race, instead of “Chinese”.

I feel that race is truly a social groupings that helps people (mostly government) define us. And the closest social groupings I can identify with is Indonesian. I can tell you why the Balinese has a teeth-cutting ceremony, why the Javanese shower with flower water before a wedding, and why the Toraja people keep their dead relatives. But unfortunately I had forgotten what ‘Lo Hei’ is for. And again, this is only a tiny indicator of my culture. It hardly scratches the surface of what my real culture is.

So I guess what I’m trying to say here is that culture is such a fluid thing. And in this 21st century, the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes is no longer an identification of my culture. In a world where certain world leaders and certain religious leaders are trying to divide people by their looks, perhaps it’s time for us to cast aside our judgment on who people are based on their looks.

I have a Mexican friend who is a muslim. I had a chinese american boyfriend who had never left America. I know a tall big American who is probably the most Asian person I know. My Japanese teacher-assistant back in California was a tall big American Hispanic who have a Phd in Japanese literature. One of my friends in college is of Chinese-descent but from Panama who speaks English with a Panaman accent and speaks fluent spanish (cause that is her mother tongue).

The world is changing constantly and extremely fluid. Let’s start tearing off these judgments and start seeing a person’s soul.

🙂 A deep topic I’m writing this time. But it’s something that I’d like to continuously passionately share about. The more people want to divide us, the more I’m going to share with others how to open our hearts to differences.

And coming back to my own culture, what I really am is a pure gado-gado, rojak, californian fresh salad, 3rd culture kid who probably is very much a banana (ya know, yellow on the outside and quite white on the inside?). But hey, if I can barely define myself, then I probably shouldn’t try to define others :D.

Have a fabulous Chinese New Year celebrations, friends. I really believe that this year is gonna be awesome. This New Moon feels amazing, feels like the beginning of so many awesome things. May it be the beginning of floods of peaceful waves coming upon this Earth we live in.

With Metta,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *