HealthCare in India: Hindu Heritage (Term Paper Example)

Overview Heritage

The aim of this term paper is to explore the Hindu heritage in a bid to understand it in order to make health care service delivery to patients with a Hindu background better. The paper covers significant aspects of the heritage such as communication, nutrition, family and its organization, as well as pregnancy and child bearing process. It is evident that the culture is very rich with traditions that have been passed from one generation to another since the ancient times. Despite this, there are some traditions which have been abandoned over time. However, some of these traditions have proved to be harming to some members of this community such as women and the poor. The paper will provide a clear way how a health care worker such as a nurse can apply this information in their day-to-day activities at work.

Introduction

My country of origin is India. However, my current residence is the United States. I am currently working as a nurse in a hospital in the US. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and I am presently pursuing a Master’s degree in the same field. There are reasons that led to my decision to migrate to the US. The first reason is that I needed a better education opportunity to upgrade my skills as a nurse. Having undergone a lot of hardships in my country while pursuing my Bachelor’s degree, I needed an improved environment to pursue my Master’s degree. Another reason why I chose to migrate to the US was due to my need for a better job opportunity. Indian politics makes it difficult for many to access quality education and good job opportunities. This is because of the high rate of corruption as political leaders pocket public money. Furthermore, poor economic policies, which are in use, have inhibited the process of job creation.

The health sector of both India and the US is impacted by topography to a certain extent. Concerning India, the country’s topography has adversely impacted its health economics as it has made health service delivery and access expensive. Some areas are flat, while others are too ragged. These landscapes prevent access to health care. Further, people are forced to use only one health facility as it is the only one that is available. Building more facilities is difficult and once again this can be attributed to the topography of the land. In turn, the topography of the US is well-structured to allow development of the health care economy. However, in this sense topography does not refer to natural structures alone, but also to manmade structures such as buildings.

Literature Review

Communication

Zaidman (2001) identifies the dominant language in Hindu heritage as Hindi. The language is spoken by approximately 487 million people as asserted by Bhattacharyya (2015). This figure makes Hindi the 4th most spoken language in the world. Just like other major languages around the world, the Hindi language is also composed of several dialects. Zaidman (2001) observes the Hindi dialect can be divided into two main classifications: Western and Eastern Hindi dialect. One of the dialects found in Western Hindi includes Braj Bhasha, which is spoken in UttaPradesh and neighboring districts of Haryana and Rajasthan. Another dialect from Western Hindi is Haryanvi and Hindustan. With regards to Eastern Hindi, various dialects include Awadhi, Bagheli, and Chhattisgarhi. The Awadhi dialect is spoken mostly in the region of Awadh in Uttar Pradesh, while Bagheli is dominantly spoken in Baghelkhand. Chhattisgarhi is spoken in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh and regions of Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and Jharkhand.

Bhattacharyya (2015) makes the observation that cultural communication patterns in the Hindu heritage are mainly influenced by tradition. In the first place, communication is highly evasive. For instance, no is never used in communication. Instead phrases like “I shall try or I will do my best” are used. Personal space during conversations in the Hindu heritage differs from one sub-culture to another. However, a distance of 3 feet is considered as appropriate. With regards to touch during communication, the Hindu heritage generally does not have much touch during communication. This is especially not common among individuals of the opposite sex. However, it is quite common to see male friends holding hands, which is interpreted as a sign of friendship. Zaidman (2001) opines that the display of physical affection in public is not usually done. However, people from the same caste or family may touch each other affectionately. With regards to body language, pointing one’s finger at others is considered as offensive. Making direct eye contact is more acceptable. Besides, gesturing with one’s right hand with the arm stretched, palm faced down, while the fingers move towards oneself is also acceptable in a conversation. While speaking to someone who is elderly, one is not supposed to use their name. Instead, a respectful form such as Marathi is used according to Bhattacharyya (2015). For instance, younger siblings are not supposed to call their older siblings by name and instead use words such as tai for an older sister and bhau for an older brother.

Family Roles and Organization

A study by Chadda and Deb (2013) contends that family is highly valued in the Hindu heritage. In fact, it is the most important institution of the Hindu heritage that has survived through the ages. Family roles and organization are the following as explained by Sonawat (2001). In the first place, the family adheres to a patriarchal ideology. In this sense, the eldest male is the head of the family. They are responsible for meeting needs of the rest of the family. Furthermore, they are in control of key family resources, including land or business. It is considered that their word is final in most family settings. This sheds light on gender roles with regards to males who are given more significance compared to women. Uddin (2012) observes that the woman’s main role is care for her husband, children, and home. This entails going out of her way to please her husband. She is also supposed to obey him as she is subject to her husband’s authority. Roles in the Hindu heritage are not only based on gender alone. Other factors such as age and family membership also determine one’s role in the family. For instance, the aged play a significant role in the family. They are considered to be keepers of tradition and entrusted with the responsibility of passing down tradition to the next generation. In this instance, the elders are expected to guide younger members of the family towards adherence to family culture and values. The extended family also has a role to play in the workings of family. The Hindu place value in the extended family and the entire family structure is formed on the foundation of the extended family. The role of the extended family includes providing support to the entire family structure. This support includes financial and moral support. For example, the extended family is tasked with providing shelter and support to the elderly members of the family. The extended family also has a significant role to play with regards to the development of children. In fact, children are raised by the entire family, including uncles and aunts. Disciplinary action against children can also be taken by the extended family.

Chadda and Deb (2013) affirm that family goals and priorities include upholding of values such as integrity, loyalty, and unity. These values are given prominence over individual values. In this sense, every decision made is done with the interest of the family’s wellbeing. Moreover, the priority of the family is to uphold cohesiveness among members. One other aspect that plays a significant role in the organization of family is individual and social status. Individual and social status in the Hindu community is determined right from birth. Individual or social status is determined by the caste system. In particular, it is determined by one’s occupation and family lineage. In this sense, those belonging to high castes received privileges, while those in the lower caste are highly disadvantaged.

Acceptance of Alternative Lifestyles. The Hindu heritage places a lot of value on family and its organization. However, with the advent of modernization this is quickly changing. Today, new concepts, which many consider to be from the West, invade the family structure. One such concept is single parenting. Single parenting is a family concept that has not been accepted in the Hindu heritage yet. Many single parents are women and they receive a lot of criticism from the society. They are looked down on and blamed for their status even when the man is to blame. They are perceived as people with no moral characters. Their children are humiliated and perceived as outcasts by the society. Furthermore, the government system is highly patriarchal and these women face many challenges since almost every legal process requires a man to be in the picture, including registering a child at school. Much needs to be done with regards to the life of a single parent. Another new concept that is changing the structure of the Hindu family is nontraditional sexual orientation.

Again, this is taken as a Western concept and is not readily accepted. According to Uddin (2012), in the Hindu culture nontraditional sexual orientations such as homosexuality and lesbianism are perceived as taboos. This is not just taken as offensive by the society alone, but also by the government, which has made it illegal for people to engage in this kind of sexuality. This goes to show to just what extent nontraditional sexual orientation is acceptable in this culture. Childless marriages are another concept of family life that is struggling to gain acceptance in the Hindu culture. Once again, it is the woman who will suffer from most backlashes. Women who are in a childless marriage are not usually treated normally in the society. They are blamed for the lack of a child despite the fact that the man may be the one with the problem. Further impact of childlessness on these women includes divorce and desertion by spouses, as well as domestic violence. Finally, the concept of divorce is perceived as a disruption of the family structure and is not easily accepted. As with the earlier concept, the woman is the one who bears humiliation and pain that come with divorce.

Pregnancy and Childbearing Practices

According to Agarwal, Sethi, Srivastava, Jha, and Baqui (2010), in the Hindu culture a number of fertility practices are performed with the aim of ensuring the continuity of life. This is especially significant when it comes to male children. Choudhry (1997) observes that fertility is represented by symbols, rituals, and prayers. In the Hindu culture, there are many fertility gods. People pray to them for their fertility. Fertility symbols are numerous many. One such symbol is a snake, which dominates the Hindu religion as a fertility symbol. It is considered to be one of the most powerful fertility symbols. The lotus flower is another symbol of fertility in the Hindu culture. The Hindus are known for their various fertility practices, which are performed in order to pay tribute to the power of procreation. For instance, one such fertility practice entails carrying out a fertility ritual during a girl’s first menstrual cycle. Choudhry (1997) opines that just as they celebrate this first cycle, the Hindus also celebrate menopause when the menstrual cycle comes to an end. Another interesting fertility ritual that is practiced in the Hindu culture is Garbadhana. It refers to the ceremony of laying the fetus. It is usually performed during the consummation of a marriage and it entails giving of special prayers for fulfillment of parental duties. The concept of fertility is not restricted to rituals and symbols alone. In the recent times, the Hindu people have come to be confronted with modern fertility factors such as birth control. More educated people have full awareness of birth control and they make use of these practices. However, less educated people are hesitant in their use.

Choudhry (1997) further makes the observation that the Hindu culture also observes labor and delivery practices. In the first place, women who are in labor are usually isolated as the process of birth is believed to be polluted. Bleeding after birth is taken as a good sign as it is a sign of the uterus being purified. The bed of the expectant mother is not placed under the main beam of the house and is not allowed to face the South since this is believed to harm the expectant mother.

During pregnancy, there are some practices in the Hindu culture which are considered as a taboo and are thus restricted during that period. For example, a pregnant woman is not supposed to go out after dark. She is also not supposed to walk past a papal or babul tree. This is because these trees are believed to house evil spirits. According to Agarwal et al. (2010), more practices are performed during labor and postpartum. For instance, in some Hindu cultures a family member may write an Om on the newborn baby’s tongue using honey or ghee. An Om is a mystical sound that is taken to represent the supreme spirit in the Hindu culture. Following the birth, the baby is usually wrapped in a special cloth. Other female members care for the baby while the mother builds up her strength after birth. A naming ceremony is usually held after 10 days. During this ceremony, the presiding priest draws up the baby’s horoscope and selects the first letter of its name.

Nutrition

Sen (2014) contends that in line with the Hindu’s beliefs about the meaning of food, it is a gift from God. For this reason, it should be treated with great respect. They believe that food is the Lord of creation who they refer to as Prajapathi. When food is worshipped, it provides strength and manly vigor. However, when it is eaten irreverently, it ends up becoming the destroyer of both strength and manly vigor. Further, the meaning of food for the Hindu community can be understood in their perception of the eating process. In the Hindu community, eating as a human activity can be transformed into either a sacrificial act that will be essential in the liberation of one’s body or it can become an activity of pleasure that can lead to suffering.

Desai, Pai, and Wright (1983) explain that the Hindu community has rituals and taboos, which are associated with food. For example, when it comes to rituals, a child’s first breast feeding is celebrated in a ceremony referred to as Samskara. During a funeral, rites involve serving food and offering some to the departed. This is meant for the departed’s continuation into the ancestral world. Other rituals include cleaning the place where food will be eaten since eating food in an unclean place is considered as a taboo and is prohibited by the Hindu law books. Once food has been served to be eaten, some water is sprinkled around it. This is followed by some prayers. Sprinkling the water is a way of purifying the food so as to make it worthy for the gods. Offering food to the gods is perceived as an act of surrender and those who eat food without offering it to the gods are sinning.

Recommendations for Research

For each of the domains discussed above, a research question will be formulated on the basis of gaps in the literature. These questions and their relevant details are discussed below.

Research Question for Communication Domain

A suitable research for the domain of communication is the following: ‘Given that Hindi is the dominant language spoken in India, including in early education and in other official capacities, how successfully are citizens of this country able to interact with foreigners and how successfully are foreigners able to interact with the Indian people?’. Conducting research to answer this question will require carrying out a qualitative research, which will be more effective in providing information on what people feel, thus being able to ascertain their experiences in communication. The specific methodology that can be used for this research is phenomenology, which will make it possible to study direct experiences of people.

Research Question for Family Roles and Organization

A relevant research question that can be developed for this domain is: ‘Will the Hindu culture ever manage to successfully overcome gender disparity that has seen women in this culture undermined and denied their rights as human beings?’.

A qualitative research can be used to pursue this research. This is because it will allow for an understanding of motivations for the intense gender disparity. A suitable methodology that can be used for this research is phenomenology because it will enable the researcher to gain an understanding of the structure of consciousness that has led to the development of this kind of treatment of women in this culture.

Research Question for Pregnancy and Childbearing Practices

For this domain, a suitable research question that can be developed is as follows: ‘Are various rituals performed with regards to fertility and child bearing in the Hindu culture effective in ensuring safety of a mother and a child or are they just a part of a long history of superstition?’.
The relevant research that can be conducted to answer this question is quantitative research that will enable a data-led approach to be used so as to establish the exact impact of this activity. A suitable methodology that can be applied for this research is grounded theory, which will enable the use of an inductive methodology.

Research Question for Nutrition

For this domain, the question that can be asked is: ‘What can be done to ensure there is availability of food to all people despite difficulties such as exploding population and increased political challenges that make it difficult for the poor to access food?’. The most suitable research to be carried out is a qualitative research. This is because it is an exploratory research that will allow for the understanding of underlying reasons as to why this happens so as to facilitate development of solutions. A specific methodology that can be used for this research is quasi experimental, which will enable the researcher to use groups to conduct the research.

Application to Nursing Practice

The above information on the Hindu heritage can be applied to my nursing practice. In particular, it can help me to become culturally competent with regards to the Hindu community, thus enabling me to provide the best care to Hindu patients. Firstly, by learning the communication ways of the Indian people, I will be able to communicate effectively with my Hindu patients. For instance, when giving the patient a report on their current condition, I will take into consideration personal space and maintain a distance of 3 feet. In addition, I will avoid touch or any form of physical contact, especially with members of the opposite sex. Secondly, having knowledge of the Hindu nutrition will enable me to plan the patient’s diet. It is clear that they value their diet and that they also have a number of rituals they perform with regards to their food. Thus, I will ensure I respect these rituals. For instance, when it comes to child breast feeding, the ritual of Samskara is performed. I will play my part in helping the family foresee this ritual. When it comes to family roles and organization, I will do my best to respect the nature of the family structure of Hindu patients. Given that the man is the head of the family, every decision about the family is made by him. This includes medical decisions. Thus, as a nurse when providing information about patients, I will bear this in mind and address men of the family.

Summary

The Hindu heritage is very rich with traditions, beliefs, and rituals that have sustained its existence since its early development. Many of these beliefs, traditions, and rituals have managed to survive up to these days. The Hindu people take pride in their culture.

Firstly, with respect to their communication their dominant language Hindu is spoken in almost all regions of the country. It is even sometimes used in an official capacity. The language has a number of dialects, but despite this fact people are still able to communicate effectively with each other.

Secondly, when it comes to Hindu family organization and structure, men are given priority over women. In fact, there is a significant gender disparity as evidenced by factors such as the male child being priority over the female child. Furthermore, significant responsibility of the family is assigned to the man. The woman’s role in the family is to provide care for her family and please her husband in all things.

Thirdly, with regards to the Hindu process of pregnancy and child bearing, there are a number of beliefs and traditions observed throughout the entire process. These rituals are conducted before conception, during pregnancy, delivery, and after birth. All these are meant to protect the life of both mother and child and in some instance ensure a male child. Finally, with regards to nutrition the Hindu place much significance on food. It is not just a source of energy that is to be eaten, but they also ascribe some form of spirituality to it.

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