Twenty-one! What is so special about turning twenty-one?  I wasn’t sure about this idea at all.  I say let us celebrate turning twenty with a bang.  Turning twenty is a BIG deal!  Think about it, first of all, you are no longer a teenager.  Twenty!  It is the big two 0!


I always knew turning 20 is a huge deal.  But when Sri turned twenty last year, she put it in the best way possible.  She said, “Mom, I am turning 20! I don’t want to!  I am growing up, now there is a 2 something in my age.”  She said, “You don’t understand Mom.”  I told her I understood the fact that she is in her twenties now.  To which she replied, “No, Mom, that’s not it. This is the decade that determines my future!”  I thought about this, and realized that she is right.  Sri couldn’t have described how turning 20 is so important any better than that. The twenties is the decade when we set a course for our future. This is the decade when monumental life changing events occur.  We graduate from college, get a job, build a career, maybe get married, and maybe even start a family.  Wow, this is an epic decade in our lives.  So when you compare turning 20 to turning 21, 21 just don’t cut it.

However I was curious, why is it that we make such a big deal about turning 21? Is it because this is the legal age when we can start drinking alcohol?  Is this really what turning 21 is all about? Is alcohol that important that we celebrate it with such pomp and circumstance? Besides in other countries you can start drinking at the age of 18.

What is the significance of this age 21 in cultures all over the world? This is what I learnt.  Most of the world looks at turning 21 in a similar way; it’s about becoming an adult. Turning 21 is a coming of age of sorts.  For example, according to the web site Medieval Chronicles, in the middle ages in England, 21 is when a boy became a Knight and was ready to take on the responsibilities of marriage and family.  In Asian cultures 21 is the age when a young man gets his first real job and is looked at by families of daughters as someone who is earning a living, and therefore ready to take on a wife and start a family. The expectations from this person are more serious now.  An adult who now makes adult decisions. People start looking at 21 year olds differently. There are adult responsibilities that a 21 year old is expected to fulfill.

Many laws take on greater significance too when one becomes 21.  Did you know that in America, under the Immigration and Nationality Act the definition of an immigrant child is defined in part as an unmarried person under the age of 21. This definition is important because it directly impacts the type of relationship one can claim with their parents when they want to apply for lawful permanent resident. Because once you turn 21, you don’t qualify to apply for a green card or a visa along with your parents. Once you turn 21, you become ineligible for residency and have to wait five more years before you can apply again.  This is big.  Turning 21 has huge consequences here!  Congress saw the problem in this law as many families have to wait years to become citizens and through no fault of their own, their children who turn 21 are not eligible for citizenship or green card.  This law got amended in 2014;  now as long as the child is living with their parents and unmarried, even if they already turned 21 they can still apply for citizenship.

Any way you look at it, turning 21 is a big milestone. We will celebrate our first-born daughter Sri turning 21.  With alcohol?  If she so chooses, she is 21 now.  Along with alcohol comes the responsibilities of a 21 year old – drinking in moderation, not succumbing to peer pressure, and not drinking and driving.

Being 21 means making responsible decisions, and taking responsibility for your own actions. Because now at the age of 21 you are a real adult, with a lifetime of opportunities and experiences ahead of you.  And this is something wonderful to celebrate!

Happy 21st Birthday Sri (April, 7)

Love you!  Mom, Dad, Anjali & Rani

Went to Santana Row with the family for dinner to celebrate Sri’s 21st Birthday.



Had a delicious dinner at Sri’s favorite restaurant Pizza Antica where Sri had her inaugural drink of a Moscato d’ Asti.




To Sri’s twin sister Sonali – A Happy 21st birthday to you too!
Love, Kalpana Aunty, Hitesh Uncle, Anjali & Rani

Web Res 1800 x 300-3559

For more details on information found in this post check out these web sites. ehow  Traditions around the world, 21st Brithday Party Ideas  Botswana Youth  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  Madieval Chronicles

13 thoughts on “Twenty-one!”

  1. You all are stunning and I love your saris. I have heard Pizza Antica is amazing, but have yet to try it. After reading this I think I might just drag my husband there with me tonight. I love your posts and your passion for adventure.

    1. Thank you for lovely comments 🙂 Pizza Antica is awesome. The perfect place to have great food with loved ones. It has a festive atmosphere especially in the evenings. They don’t take reservations so you have to wait a while to get a table, but its so worth it.

  2. Hi Dolly – What a fabulous age – Turning 21 – Congrats to your most wonderful daughter Sree Devi( i love to spell like that) . I have met Sree Devi only twice but on both occasions , she endeared herself to me with her Courteous and Loving ways . That Emerald Necklace from me will be Sree’s gift . ( an heirloom jewelry from her mom to me to Sree . ) Big hugs to Sree .

  3. Hi Dolly, loved your blog on “turning 21” . Wow…Sri is 21. A very happy birthday to Sri! What an exciting milestone for you and Hitesh! Uma

  4. Hi Kapana,
    Nice article and very significant to us since both our daughters turn 21 this year.
    To Sri & Sonali,
    Happy 21st birthday! It really brings great joy to watch you today and see the lovely young women you have become and to know that we have been part of that process. Daughters are precious, kind little girls. We dreamed of the women you would become, and you have far exceeded our expectations! Wish you all the best now and in the future.
    Nishma auntie/mom

    1. Nishma, your comment made me emotional. Sonali and Sri have grown up together since they were babies. Its hard to believe 21 years have gone by already! Both have turned out great – smart, confident, loving young women. Kalpana

  5. Hi Kalpana,
    Thanks for letting us know that Sri turned 21! That is a big one!!! It’s hard to believe that the little girl
    I taught is becoming an adult. I still remember those days she would be napping, when you came from work to pick her up. I also treasured her help during the summer sessions and truly missed her when she was gone.
    Dear Sri, Happy 21st Birthday to an intelligent, beautiful, loving young woman! Celebrate and enjoy! Lots of Love, Devi Aunti

    1. Devi, funny thing is Sri still takes a nap around the same time! You are her first teacher Devi and you will always a special place in our hearts. love, Kalpana

  6. Dear Sribaby:) I am sure you were an adorable baby. You certainly are a smart, beautiful and strong young woman at 21.

    Happy Birthday. Much love and blessings.

    Kalpana, thanks for educating us all about the significance of turning 21.

  7. How awesome is that??? Happy 21st birthday to Sri however she decides to celebrate it!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and info on the significance of turning 21! So enlightening – will share with Alex as he turns 21 this December.😜

  8. Hi Kalpana
    Did not know all these significance of turning 21! A wonderful responsible age!
    Happy Birthday to beautiful Sri! God bless you.

    Thanks for sharing this Kalpana! Only you can write all positive things about growing up from Teenage to Adult!
    Love you.

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