When Shiv, a 10-year-old boy who is ashamed of being Indian, gets into a fight at school, the only way to avoid suspension is by doing mandatory lunchtime yoga classes.
“Namaste Yoga” is about the effect Cultural Appropriation can have on young Brown kids and their self-worth, when their Culture is appropriated, commoditised and sold back to them. A week from my 11 birthday my mother passed away in a car accident, when her car was hit by a speeding van. I desperately tried to find a place to belong and because of the way Indians were portrayed on Western screens, as a child I thought it wasn’t going to happen for me as an Indian. So I ostracised my Culture to become as Australian as I could. Shortly after mum died, my dad remarried. My step-mum was deeply rooted in Indian Hindu Culture and our home became a Hindu temple, open to all religions and the public every Thursday night. My sense of belonging and identity was complex. The Indigenous Hindu Culture resonated deeply but in public I kept it a secret. I was repeatedly reminded I didn’t belong, whether it be being called the N-word, told to go back to where I came from or having to listen to various versions of Apu’s from the Simpson’s accent. Shiv and Kali characters in “Namaste Yoga” are two sides of my personality and life growing up. Their world, IS my world. I cannot begin to describe the self-loathing as a child, when a white person claims your Culture and relays it back to you like they are the authority on it. “Namaste Yoga” is my way of telling our kids – “You are enough. Your strength is your Culture”.