Missing the Om around my neck

| January 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

For more than eighteen years of my life, I was made to wear an Om necklace around my neck. Whenever I was anxious or insecure, I would feel it between my thumb and forefinger and everything felt okay – the next presentation, the next messed up thought in my head felt bearable – I was okay. When I turned nineteen, I took that necklace off.

During Freshman Year of college, my faith was something I had been struggling with for around two years. I started questioning if I truly believed in God. Constantly, I asked my mom for the reasons behind several [institutionalized] practices I was made to engage in. How did my diet, for example, assert how religious I was? For a lot of those answers, my mom told me it was tradition. Amongst other feelings, I found myself finding no comfort in that tradition. Coming to college was the first time I actually introduced myself as not religious. Taking the necklace off just felt like the logical next step.

Today, as I claw my way through Senior Year, I miss that necklace. I miss the comfort and identity it gave me and I am sometimes tempted to wear it again. However, I still do not consider myself religious – Hinduism was a great part of my upbringing and it will remain an important part of my life, but I will not practice it. Keeping this in mind, should I wear an Om again?

Amongst the billions of things constantly appropriated, Om is one of them. Baseless imitations of meditation and random tattoos encompass some of the ways Om has become a commercialized symbol. Chanting Om and using its symbol should be informed and intentional and there are several people who constantly use the symbol in the right way. However, would I be doing so? I wonder if I miss the necklace as an attempt to hold on to a nostalgic and comfortable past or if I truly miss it.

I have not forgotten the days I [irrationally] argued with my mother about why should I constantly show the world I am Indian. Coming to college taught me that it is important for me to take pride in who I am and where I am from; that I am not any less because I do not look like the majority. I learned that I can be proud to be Indian and still be from somewhere else – I also learned that I can be proud to be Indian and criticize India’s flaws. Love is never blind.

I have asked several questions here that I do not have the answers to. In such a time of uncertainty, my eighteen-year-old self would have reached for that mighty symbol on her chest – my twenty-two-year-old self does not need to. Today, I will look for the answers to my questions because I want to, not because I was made to.

featured photo credit: cernaovec aum – embroidered brooch via photopin (license)

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Category: featured, Philosophy and Religion, Reflections

Hansika Ramchandani

About the Author ()

Hansika Ramchandani is a Junior double majoring in History and International Relations. She loves it when you laugh at all of her [not] funny jokes and accept the fact that she needs yet another cup of coffee.

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