What are some differences between Bengali and American customs, traditions or practices? From the novel The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Several differences between Bengali and American traditions and customs are mentioned in The Namesake. One is that very often marriages may still be arranged. Like with Ashima's marriage to Ashoke, the Bengali woman may have little to say in the matter. A contemporary film that illustrates this is My Faraway Bride (2006), about an American writer who meets an Indian Bollywood film star.

Another difference traditions and customs is illustrated in the birth in Massachusetts of Ashima's first baby. At home in Bengal, Ashima would be surrounded by female family and friends who would encourage, help and instruct her as to what to expect. In Massachusetts, she had none of these things, nor do most American women who give birth.

In connection with this, Ashima and Ashoke were informed that they could not leave the hospital with their baby until they had named him. In Bengal, India, the naming process is a ritualized family tradition during which elders select the name.