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Why are my Non-Resident Indians parents reverting?

Updated: Sep 1, 2023


Non-Resident Indians
Non-Resident Indians

Embracing Heritage: The Phenomenon of Reversion Among NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) John Denver in his famous song, 'Country Roads' spoke to going back home....to a place where I belong and that's exactly what happens to senior citizens .

As the golden years approach, a fascinating and heartwarming phenomenon unfolds among a particular group of seniors—Non-Resident Indians, or NRIs. This phenomenon, known as "reversion," involves a return to one's native language and customs as individuals age. It's a beautiful testament to the enduring connection between one's cultural roots and the human spirit.

I saw this character trait of reverting pack in my parents, also. They were both PhD's, well educated, authored many books but as they aged they seemed to revert back to speaking in Hindi, wanting Indian foods, tending to be more comfortable around Indians.

The Reversion Unveiled "Reversion" or "reverting back" is a term often used to describe the process by which NRIs, as they age, gravitate back towards their native language, customs, and traditions. It's a phenomenon that is closely linked to the broader concept of "aging in place" or "ethnic aging." The essence of reversion lies in the belief that, as people age, they become more profoundly linked to their cultural and linguistic origins. This connection is especially poignant for those who have spent a significant portion of their lives assimilating into a different culture or society. It's a return to the heart and soul of their heritage, a journey back to their roots. The Multifaceted Reversion Reversion manifests in various intriguing ways among NRIs:

  1. Language Reconnection: As NRIs age, they often find comfort and solace in speaking their native language or dialect. After years of predominantly using a second language in their daily lives, there's a profound yearning to communicate in the language of their childhood and ancestral stories.

  2. Cultural Customs and Traditions: The allure of cultural traditions, rituals, and celebrations becomes irresistible. NRIs embrace these practices that are deeply ingrained in their ethnic backgrounds, finding profound meaning and connection in the customs of their ancestors.

  3. Rebuilding Social Networks: Seniors often seek out and spend more time with individuals from their own ethnic or cultural group. This renewed social connection reinforces their ties to their heritage and brings a sense of belonging, reminiscent of the communities they left behind.

  4. Culinary Reawakening: Dietary preferences take a delicious turn, as NRIs revisit and embrace the traditional dishes of their culture. The aroma of familiar spices and the taste of childhood recipes bring comfort and nostalgia.

The Duality of Reversion Reversion among NRIs is not a one-dimensional journey; it is marked by a blend of positive and challenging aspects:

On the positive side:

Sense of Belonging: Reconnecting with cultural roots provides a profound sense of belonging, identity, and comfort during the later stages of life.

  • Rediscovering Heritage: Seniors get the opportunity to rediscover and pass on their heritage, keeping the flame of their cultural identity alive for future generations.

Challenges may include:

  • Language Barriers: Reversion could lead to language barriers with healthcare providers, potentially affecting the quality of healthcare received.

  • Social Isolation: If the cultural community is small or dispersed, seniors might grapple with social isolation as they seek the company of like-minded individuals.

The Uniqueness of the Journey It's crucial to understand that reversion is not a universal experience. Not all NRIs undergo this transformation to the same degree, and individual experiences can vary widely. The extent of reversion may hinge on factors such as the level of acculturation, the availability of cultural resources, and personal preferences. A Field of Study and Care Researchers and gerontologists have delved into this captivating phenomenon. They aim to better comprehend the aging experiences of NRIs and develop strategies for providing culturally sensitive care and support as they navigate the intricacies of reversion. It's a journey rich in cultural heritage, and it deserves recognition and understanding. In the heartwarming dance between age and heritage, NRIs are embracing their roots with open arms. Reversion is not just a return; it's a celebration of a lifetime of experiences and the enduring bonds of culture and identity.


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