Religious and spiritual trauma syndrome is a term coined by journalist Nandita Vadani in a 2006 article in The Hindu.
It describes the psychological trauma that follows when a child or adolescent experiences a religious trauma.
In Vadini’s case, she describes the trauma she experienced as a teenager in India during the Emergency in 1980s.
A decade later, Vadanais son had married and left for the United States.
Vadanas son was living with his mother and his father was dying of cancer.
She says her son was bullied because of his religion.
“He was not accepted in the family.
He was always told that he was different from everybody else and he was not part of our family.
And he was ostracized.
He had to hide.
And when I was little, I was the only one who didn’t speak about it.”
Vadans son became a Muslim.
His father was killed in a plane crash while trying to escape.
He spent the rest of his life in the United Kingdom and returned to India after his father died.
“I felt like I had lost everything.
I was not a part of the family,” says Vadanas son.
“There was no one to talk to.
No one who cared.
I felt like it was my fault for having come to the US and that I was a burden to the family.”
In 2012, Vadanas son came to India to visit her parents, who had recently moved to a new house in New Jersey.
She was not able to speak with her son for two years because of the religious trauma she had experienced.
Now, Vadas son is living in New York City, living with a Hindu couple and her daughter.
“It’s hard to come to terms with it.
And it was very hard for my son, because I felt as though I was his only parent,” she says.
“My son was raised by two other people, and when I came to visit him, it was a very difficult experience for me because of that.
When Vadanes son came back to New Jersey, he had a hard time adjusting to the new surroundings. “
That was very difficult for me, because my son was really happy and I was happy for him, but when I went back to India, I saw that I had become a part-time Muslim, and I did not want to be that part-timer anymore.”
When Vadanes son came back to New Jersey, he had a hard time adjusting to the new surroundings.
“When I first came to the States, I thought that I would have an easy life.
But now I am very unhappy because of my family.
I am worried that my son will not feel at home in New Zealand, or in the UK.
My son is afraid that he will lose his mother, so I feel that it is very important that I have my son’s best interests at heart,” says the journalist.
Vadaanas has created a Facebook group to help other Indian parents cope with religious trauma and what it is like to experience it.
She has also been contacted by a number of other parents who have faced the same experience.
“Many people do not know what religious trauma syndrome really is.
Many people think that it means religious violence, but it is actually more than that.
When my son came home, he was traumatized because of what happened to his family in the Emergency, and also because of how he was raised.
But we need to do something to help,” says Rupesh.
“Our children should be raised in a culture where they are not afraid.
We should be open to the idea of exploring different ways of living and loving each other.”
Vadaani says that even though it is important for parents to support their children in dealing with religious violence and trauma, it is also important for them to accept that there are people who may be against their religion.
“When I was in India, people were not against the government or the government of India, but they were against the religion,” she said.
“Even though it was the government, I think the government has done very little to protect the minority communities.”
Sources: Indian Express | Hindustan Times | Times of Asia