The Beatles, Indian culture, and America in the 1960s.: Becoming Minnesotan

Nirupama Misra, c.2006.
  • Name - Nirupama Misra
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview -
  • Bengali New Year Festival, Messiah Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, March 19, 1980.


    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Assimilation: Does a person have to give up part of his/her culture to become more American?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Most immigrants struggle with moving to a place where the people know very little about the immigrant's native culture.  However, many ideas from India have worked their way into American culture over the past 50 years.  Now you can find Indian restaurants and yoga studios all over Minnesota, both in cities and in small towns.  Many Americans practice meditation of some kind.  Hindu temples have been built in places like Maple Grove and Rochester, Minnesota.  Immigrants not only adapt to American culture, contribute new ideas and activities to American culture as well!

    To learn more about Asian Indian history and culture, visit our Asian Indian Community page.

    • Chapter 1

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    Interviewee: Nirupama Misra (NM)

    Interviewer: Polly Sonifer (PS)

    NM:  I don’t think I rebelled against things Indian. I probably went through periods where, you know, that whole identity issue of how American and how Indian, and where is that balance? So I think there were times where that was kind of the question, and I probably was testing out those kinds of things. Also, when I was growing up, you know the late 1960s, early 1970s, this country was going through a lot of societal change and cultural change. So that, I think, was also part of my growing up years. You know, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement. All those things are very vivid to my memory of my youth.

    PS:  Did you join in with that protest movement kind of stuff?

    NM:  A little bit. I was kind of on the young end of the Vietnam War era, but yes, I think I definitely was very aware of it and very sympathetic to some of that. I think that that was also a time when Indian culture was becoming very . . . I guess Americans were just becoming more aware of Indian culture. The Beatles brought in Maharishi Yogi and the whole meditation movement, yoga movement. Indian music suddenly had kind of hit the scenes, so it was kind of semi-glamorous, I would say, to have some Indian culture. That was a nice thing. I think we’re kind of hitting a resurgence of that again where Indian culture is very hip. That’s nice. I think it helps kids who are growing up here to feel that they can embrace it.

    PS:  Because the Beatles were into the Indian things, it was okay for you to be Indian at that point?

    NM:  Well, I don’t think I related to the Beatles being involved in it, but I think it just kind of made it easier. People had heard of Hinduism or meditation or yoga. Otherwise, I don’t think they would have, and I would have had to explain every little bit of that. [Laughs]

    Related Glossary Terms


    Adjective:  Relating to the traditions and customs of a group or society.


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Verb:  To accept fully.  (embraces, embracing, embraced)


    Noun:  A period of time characterized by particular circumstances, events, or people.


    Noun:  A religion, philosophy and culture native to India, characterized by the belief in reincarnation and a supreme oneness personified in many forms and natures.


    Noun:  The difference or character that marks off an individual from the everyone else; selfhood; a name or persona by which one is known; knowledge of who one is. 


    Adjective:  Complicated.


    Noun:  Debate; controversy; problem.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
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