The purpose of this survey is to explore the minds of young Indian Americans (ages 18-24) at Boston University regarding Indian culture, religion, and how the two affect their lives. The survey consists of thirty questions that are both quantitative and qualitative in nature. Approximately sixty Indian Americans responded to the survey. Results and analysis follow.
Discussion of Quantitative Results & Overall Conclusions:SAMPLE SURVEY:
This survey addressed the issues of how Indian Americans view themselves as well as how religion and culture affect their life choices, if at all. The demographics of those surveyed are as follows: seventy percent of those interviewed were born in the United States, seventy-eight percent are Hindus, eighteen percent Jains, Christians, or Sikhs, and three percent are Muslims. On a scale from one to five, with one being "irreligious" and five being "extremely religious," over eighty percent view themselves as a 3, 4, or 5.
Eighty-five percent of those interviewed speak an Indian language. Those who did not speak a language wish they had learned a language so that they could pass it down to their children in the future. Language seems to be the backbone of religion and culture as well as one of the basic requirements for one to consider oneself as religious or cultural to any degree.
Most Indian Americans were introduced to their religion and culture before the age of five and their primary teachers consisted of their family (either parents or grandparents). Living in America, one does not have the same resources or environment that one would have living in India, therefore it makes sense that one’s primary teachers consisted of one’s immediate family (as opposed to gurus, temple, classes etc…).
Indian culture and religion still have a strong effect on Indian Americans’ lives. Over fifty percent reported that it influences their choices of partners in intimate relations, twenty three percent reported that it influences their career choice, and fifteen percent reported that it affects their choices of friends. Furthermore, for those who abstained from sex, drinking, doing drugs or smoking, religion was a factor in this decision for twenty three percent, eight percent, fourteen percent and ten percent respectively.
Over ninety percent participate in some type of religious activity and over sixty percent are part of a cultural/religious organization. These numbers are quite high and suggest that Indian Americans at Boston University have indeed retained some form of their culture/religion and have not entirely assimilated into American culture. However, over seventy percent believe that they are "Americanized" in that they have taken from both Indian and American culture to form who they are today.
The results of this survey indicate that Indian Americans between ages of 18-24 seem to have retained their culture and religion in several areas of their life. Although those surveyed report that they practice a different form of Hinduism than their counterpart in India, Indian Americans have held on to their heritage. This is most evident in their choices of lifestyles, knowledge of Indian language, and desire to pass down what they have learned about Indian religion and culture to their future children.
1. Were you born in U.S.A? Yes___ No___Please send comments or questions to Sadhna Bhawan
2. If No, where were you born (state and country)? ____________What year did you come to
this country? ________
3. Do you speak Hindi? Yes ____ No ___
4. Do you speak another Indian language? Yes___ No____ If Yes, which one: ____________
5. Do you consider yourself a religious person? 1 2 3 4 5
(1= irreligious 3= moderately religious 5 = very religious)
6. What religion do you follow? Hinduism ___ Jainism___ Sikhism___ Islam___ Other: ______
7. Who were your primary religious teachers in your youth? Please check all that apply: Parents ___
Grandparents____ Siblings___ Guru____ (Name of Guru: _____________) Temple staff/schooling__
Local Indian Association of your home town/college ____ Other: _____________
8. Could you describe the role that they played in fostering your religious side?
9. At what age were you introduced to your religion/culture ________
10. Are you a member of the Hindu Students Council (or any other Indian/Hindu group) at your
school? Yes___ (Name of Association: ______________) No____
11. If No, is there a specific reason why you did not join? ______________________
12. Do you actively participate in religious activities (either personal or public)? Please check all that
apply: Devotional prayers ____ (Approximately how often: once a day___ once a week___
once a month___ once a year___ ) Meditation____ Attending prayer services____ Reading
religious texts____ (Which ones: __________________________)
13. Do you consider yourself "Americanized?" Yes___ No___ What does being "Americanized,"
mean to you? (Is it a good thing, bad thing, both, and why):
14. How important do you feel religion has been in your life? 1 2 3 4 5
(1= not important at all 3= moderately important 5 = very important)
15. Has it always been that important/unimportant? Yes___ No___
16. If No, was there a particular experience that changed the amount of influence that religion had
upon your life? ______________________________________________________
17. In what areas of your life do you feel that religion exerts an effect? Please check all that apply:
Choice of friends____ Career decisions____ Choice of partner in intimate relations____ Other:
18. Do you differentiate between Indian religion and Indian culture? Yes ___ No___
19. Do you believe that Indian religion and culture are intrinsically intertwined? Yes___ No___
20. If Yes, how so/what parts?
21. Please answer yes or no to the following questions as well as indicate whether you believe that your
religion/culture was a factor in your decisions regarding the following life choices:
a. Do you drink? Yes ___ No___ Was religion a factor: Yes___ No ___
b. Do you smoke? Yes ___ No___ Was religion a factor: Yes___ No ___
c. Do you do any drugs? Yes ___ No__ Was religion a factor: Yes___ No__
d. Have you had sex? Yes ___ No____ Was religion a factor: Yes___ No __
22. Do you plan on passing your culture/religion on to your children? Yes___ No___
23. If Yes, what are the most important things you want to pass down? Please check all that apply:
Language___ Religious stories____ Religious teachings____ Religious practices____ Culture__
25. Do you think that there are adequate resources available in America for one to accurately learn about
Hinduism/Indian culture on their own? Yes___ No___
26. If No, do you have any suggestions of resources that should be available, which are currently not?
27. How do you think that the religion and culture that you practice is different from the religion and culture
practiced in India, currently?__________________________________________________
28. Do you think that you are "less religious" or "less cultured" than someone your age that grew up and
lives in India? Yes___ No___
29. If No, does this bother you? Yes___ No___ Why/Why not? ______________________
30. Is there anything that you would like to change regarding your upbringing, in reference to your Indian
heritage? Yes____ No____ If Yes, then what: __________________________________