As I stand here in the middle of the dance floor at my brother's wedding, listening to the very Punjabi bhangra music blasting on the wall speakers, I walk the fine line between being conservative Indian - those of Ivy League chemical engineering PhD's, of having no less than 50 cousins, of spending every spare moment in life with family - and being a Westerner, coolly expressing my ever-apparent condescending attitude towards those of the East, looking in disgust at the seemingly uncouth Indian parents who smooch their children at every chance. I have been on this line my whole life, torn between two cultures - the Indian, and the American. The main differences between the two lie in the attitudes towards family, which eventually pervade every other aspect of their respective cultures.
In India, life revolves around family, and family is life. All festive dates - whether they are birthdays, religious holidays, or any other cause for celebration - are spent with family.
Family forms the core of one's essence, it provides strength in times of need, and there is always, always, always someone to talk to - simply because there are so many relatives with you at any given time.
Religious holidays are the greatest time of celebrations. Holi, the festival of color, is without a doubt the most enthusiastically celebrated of these. In Bombay, where most of my family lives, every Holy we would invite hundreds (I am not exaggerating here) relatives to our suburban bungalow for the celebration. Aunts, uncles, cousins, mothers-in-law (of which there are plenty due to the ready supply of siblings), grandparents, nieces, nephews - anyone who had even the most remote blood connection to the Dheer clan would join in. Going to the local market to buy colored powder, we took...