Family finds ways to keep their traditions alive

By Caitlin Larwood and Ashley Nerz

On a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon, the Nair family left the Hindu Center of Virginia after a morning of worship to go to an authentic Indian movie at a small theater on Broad Street.

Asok and Geetha Nair have found ways to keep their native Indian traditions alive after moving to Henrico County in October 2004 with their 8-year-old son, Aadarsh. Asok left the state of Kerala in India in 1999 in pursuit of a steady job in Iowa, and once he was settled, the rest of the family followed in 2000.

After moving from Iowa to New Jersey, then to New Mexico, the family now calls Glen Allen home. Asok and Geetha both work as contractors for Capital One and Aadarsh attends Springfield Park Elementary School.

"It's a bit hard because you are accustomed to your life [in India]," said Geetha, who was dressed in an ornate maroon, gold and brown sari. "You come here and you have to start everything all over on your own."

The Nairs said that the hardest part of coming to America was leaving their family behind.

"In India, parents provide their children with everything," said Asok, clad in a Tommy Hilfiger polo and khaki cargo shorts. "You stay with your parents and they provide you with everything from education to marriage."

The Nair family recently returned from a two-month trip to visit their family in India. They try to return home about every two years.

Aadarsh circled his parents on roller shoes, chiming in with both the positive and negative aspects of living in both countries.

"There are so many mosquitoes in India and I don't like them," Aadarsh said, referring to this recent visit. "But I did like watching the cartoons."

Aadarsh said that he could understand and speak his native language of Malayalam, but he could not write or read it well. Right now, Aadarsh thinks that he wants to go back, but Asok said that he was concerned that his son would not want to leave as he got older.

"My friends tell me that when he grows up and reaches high school, all of his friends will be here and he will not want to go back," Asok said.

The family said that they observe Indian traditions daily by keeping a place for prayer in their house.

"This morning before coming here, we celebrated in honor of Saraswaathi, the goddess of learning and education, by reading books in our prayer place at home," Geetha said.

The family also said that they belonged to the Malayalam Association with more than 100 other families in the local community. The Association gets together to watch Indian movies, have picnics and celebrate Malayalam festivals and special days.
Another way the family incorporates Indian culture into their lives is by cooking traditional Indian food almost every day.

"The Indian restaurants here are good, but definitely Americanized," Geetha said. "The food is not nearly as spicy."

The family also enjoys Thai, Italian and Mexican food. Aadarsh said that his favorite American foods were hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese.

The family members said that they have adapted to the American lifestyle and find the Richmond community to be very friendly, but after seven years, they still miss home.

"I want to go back," Geetha said. "I think we will stay for a while, but I want to move back with my family."

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One Response to Family finds ways to keep their traditions alive

  1. Falguni says:


    I am a Gujrati & I am planing to relocate to Richmond. I have 7 years old boy & is really worried about his education. Do they have Indians in a class, I would like him to make Indian friends & not american. Do they adjust with the education system over there. Please guide me, It will help me a lot in taking my decision. You cxan mail me on

    Thanks & waiting for your reply.

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