Actress and anchor Pooja Bedi is proud that she can boast of a family tree that is an amalgamation of several religions. "I have a family which is a mix of all religions, so I worship all gods and follow all religions," Pooja told IANS.
Though Pooja is widely known as a Sikh girl as the daughter of actor Kabir Bedi, her grandmother was a Christian who took to Buddhism, her mother Protima Bedi was a Hindu, while she was married to a Muslim.
However, the initial influence in her life was her grandfather Baba Phyare Lal Bedi, father of Kabir Bedi. "My grandfather was a direct descendent of Guru Nanak, which my father also carried forth," said Pooja.
Baba Phyare Lal was a philosopher and an author who married a British woman, Frida Houlston, while studying at Oxford University, Pooja said of her grandfather.
On returning from London, he participated in the freedom struggle and Frida supported him, she added. "It was an unusual thing that a Briton was fighting against the British; but my grandmother did it," Pooja said.
Frida later converted to Buddhism and was ordained by the 16th Karmapa. "I was given the name Karma Sarwawati by the Karmapa. So Buddhism also had a great impact in our life," said the actress, who is best remembered for her role in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.
Pooja was introduced to Hinduism by her danseuse mother Protima, who was the daughter of a businessman from Haryana, Laxmichand Gupta, and his Bengali wife Reba. "I was influenced by my mother to a great extent and I came to know about Hindu mythology from her. I learnt about the Ramayana, the Bhagvad Gita and many other Hindu scriptures because of her."
Model-turned Odissi dancer Protima, who set up dance institute Nrityagram on the outskirts of Bangalore, disappeared after a landslide near Pithoragarh in the Himalayas in 1998.
Pooja also took on the name Noor Jehan when she married businessman Farhan Ebrahim in 1995. Farhan's father is a Muslim and mother a Parsi. Though Pooja and Farhan split in 2002, they have two children - daughter Aalia and son Omar.
"Now my children also don't have a particular religion as I also didn't have. The only difference is that now they have Muslim and Parsi also in their blood. So they may be called Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh, Christian and Parsi!" said Pooja.
"We don't have a single god, but have all the gods together. The only thing we say to god every day is thank you, god, for everything you have given," she said.