The Urban Villager
We grow our own flowers that we give to our deities. For Hindus, the flower is very important to us and our deities. They say growing it is very special for the God. You grow it yourself and you offer it to Him, instead of you buying it from the outside. As a child my grandmother said, "It's better you grow the flowers you give to the God, he will be more happy. God doesn’t see the money, God wants your hard work.” As a little girl I would always ask her, “But we have money, we have lots of money. Why can’t we just give the God money or buy flowers instead?” She said, “No, money is not the same. You cannot buy flowers because you did not grow them, someone else worked for it. That blessing goes to them even though you paid.”
All the Hindu temples now know we have a garden here - one plot is called Ganesha Garden and the other plot is called Hindu Center Garden. The flowers we grow are shared with all the temples. This helps unify the Hindu community, unifying all the temples to be together.
Our Hindu temples like the roses, zinnias, dahlia, jasmine, and mums. For the North Indian temples (Hindu Center, Sai Baba), they like marigold, that’s why I am growing marigold here because marigold is for Diwali. The tulsi plant (holy basil) is special for the God. We pray with tulsi because its like a mother plant. Priest make garlands from tulsi and give it to the God. Jasmine is also offered and smells good too. When I give the priests the flowers, they tell me, “You are blessed and you will be going to heaven.”
"When I come to this garden, I feel like I'm in India on my grandmother's village farm"
I grew up wealthy, my mother and father were wealthy and we lived in the city [Mangalore]. When I would visit my grandmother in the village, she taught me life lessons. I watched her grow everything. I saw people working in the fields, we would grow and eat our own vegetables, and we had our own chickens. She lived in the village and didn’t come to the city. But I loved the village. As soon as Friday evening came, I would run to the village. All of my vacation was spent there….any holidays, I would run. All my friends were villagers. That’s the simple life.
My grandmother was deaf, but she could read my lips. Everyone in the family shouted and screamed at her. I would tell them to speak to her nicely. She would tell me I was her eyes and ears and that I am her everything. She would take me to the market because she couldn’t hear and she couldn’t count…she never went to school. She was such a simple and humble person. Beautiful gift I got. This is the reason I am who I am - no materialism.
After my grandmother died, our family lost these traditions and way of life. Because my mom, aunt and uncle are a high style, no one wanted to go back to the village, that’s why I am the only one that has this knowledge. My mother blames the way I am because of my grandmother. She is not happy because I married a very poor, humble man. My husband’s family are very village people, poor people. I like that - I love it. My husband is a very poor man, he is not a very rich man compared to my family. He has a business now, its not that big, but it’s ok. When I go to India it is very different, it is a lavish life with richness. I have a driver, a cook, and someone washing my clothes. I like the simple life better than the India life.
I prefer the simple life because of my grandma, she said, “you have everything, do it yourself.” I asked her, “grandma your children are very rich why are you in the village?” She said, “this is my happiness, this is my field…you see this rice how sweet it is, look at the taste of the vegetables, look at the taste of the chickens…you go to the oceans, get the fish and see how tasty it is.” That’s the way I learned…growing up I wanted to live this life. I wanted to marry a very poor man...a village man...living a rural life...and I wanted to live happy. I didn’t want the lavish life.
When I come to this garden, I feel like I'm in India on my grandmother's village farm. For me this looks like a small village and these are all the farmers. When I first came, I thought wow this is a farm! This garden is my grandma!