Tuesday, July 19, 2005
While traveling a couple of years ago, I became friendly with a girl who was on vacation for what I thought was a family reunion. Her family was of Indian descent, and before long I began to notice something peculiar: all the young kids called every adult male in the family 'uncle'. Last week I was at a Hindu wedding and noticed the same phenomenon so I decided to research the issue further. It turns out that in Indian culture, it is customary to call any adult male that is close to the family 'uncle' regardless of whether this person is actually your uncle. This means that a young Indian boy could conceivably have 10 or 15 'uncles' without either his mother or father having any brothers. I find this amazing. Furthermore, I wonder how real, related by blood Indian uncles feel about this tradition. As a true relative, I would take offense at non-relatives being accorded relative-name status. I believe that one's rightfully earned uncle status is diminished as a result of other non-true uncles stealing your thunder. We must probe further in order to gain more insight into this.
Posted by sinoway at 7:17 PM