Kanika, 2000s – Current
I wear these bangals every day. I actually can’t remember the last time I took them off. My mom gave them to me about six years ago. Growing up, wearing Indian clothes and jewelry was always synonymous with getting dressed up for weddings, holidays, or another special occasion. About seven years ago, I lived in rural India and traveled to several different parts of the country. I learned about my heritage and the history and diversity of Indian culture. I developed relationships with people, whether those from the villages that I called my home for the year, those I met through my fellowship program, or family members that I didn’t previously know, in ways that I could have never imagined. It humbled me, challenged my perceptions and assumptions, and taught me about humanity and connection. I learned how much I didn’t know. When I came back to New York, my mom noticed I had started wearing bangals regularly. I think it helped me feel like I was maintaining my connection to India and the past year. On her next visit to India, she came back with these. To me, they represent my family, my Indian identity, and a reminder of the people and experiences that enriched my life during that year.