Category Archives: commitment

End of the Project

Community events,

Community events

With the run up to the end of the project in June, I am seeking more and more people to take part in the project and have their oral histories record. If you are from a South Asian background and your family migrated in the 1950’s, 1960’s or 1970’s get in touch and have your history recorded and documented for life. The project run by The University of Huddersfield will be archiving all interviews and you will be able to see your biography on the Asian Voices website, www.asianvoices.org.uk.

During this month I have been working with Lindley Infant School, conducting Oral History workshops teaching students to reflect on their family history and learn to interview each other and have collected interviews from The Indian Workers Association with thanks to Baldev for allowing me access to his men’s social group who gave me some fascinating stories. Have a listen to them on the website.

So get in touch; this is a chance for ordinary people to have their life histories recorded… be part of the future now!

Curry for Christmas

 

snowy days in Huddersfield

snowy days in Huddersfield

A curry for Christmas, that’s what I’ll be having for Christmas lunch along with a roast chicken, Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce and if we’re really lucky we might have a turkey instead of the roast chicken! So this is what you call an Asian Christmas. Don’t get me wrong we love Christmas dinner, Christmas decorations and in all, the Christmas spirit (apart from the rush of the shops) so where does the curry fit in? Well, we always have a curry don’t we? In my household not so much, it’s mainly pasta, wraps, rice pizzas, but the older generations still do and if they don’t, on Christmas day you will be guaranteed to have some chilli piled on one of the veggies!! This is what you call the best of both worlds and dual cultural heritage. I can’t wait to get the crackers out and have the kids wake up knowing its Christmas. As Muslims we have had our religious celebrations and the kids were inundated with presents on Eid which still seem to be coming out of the corners of the house, but they still hold onto the idea of Santa Claus and Rudolf, know about the birth of Jesus and participate in Christmas concerts. With two cultures they understand both and are happy having the opportunity to have both, so a curry it will be for Christmas, with all of the trimmings of course…and if we’re really, really lucky we might even get snow!

Afghanistan: what’s going on?

There has been much controversy over the presidential elections which have been taking place in Afghanistan over the last few months, but what’s actually happening?

In August, Hamid Karzai won the election outright, with a clear majority of votes, but it came to light shortly after that this outcome was the product of widespread fraud throughout the election process. President Karzai was accordingly stripped of his victory and it was decided that there should be a second round of the election. Controversially, this second round, which was planned to take place on the 7th November, was called off after Dr. Abdullah Abdullah – President Karzai’s main rival – pulled out of the election race claiming that the vote would not be ‘free and fair’.

So on Monday it emerged that, after the entirety of this long and drawn out election, with all its various complications, that Hamid Karzai will in fact be resuming the role of Afghan President for a second term. Naturally, this decision has provoked yet more outcries at the state of affairs within the Afghan government and electoral system. Dr. Abdullah called the decision ‘illegal’ due to the issues of fraud in the election, whereby Karzai did not win a majority of votes, so he does not technically have the public’s consent to rule them.

Meanwhile in Helmand, the conflict between British forces and the Taliban remains fierce as 5 more British soldiers have been shot dead. The attack has been blamed on a rogue policeman who was being mentored by the men. This news brings the total number of British deaths this year to 92, which is the highest in any year since the Falklands War in 1982. Following the shooting, Gordon Brown stressed that he was confident and hopeful that the new Afghan government would “play its part in confronting the challenges Afghanistan faces”.

In Huddersfield, we would all agree that we have a harmonious and co-operative attitude and there is very little in the way of friction or conflict between different groups of people. Evidently this is not the case at the minute in Afghanistan, although the British troops are doing their best to help the people move on and fight extremism and terrorism. The new Afghan government will have a large part to play in promoting and leading the way to peace. The question is, will they be successful?

 

The month of fasting

Cresent moon

Cresent moon

Ramadham is the month in which the Holy Quran was sent down from heaven by the angel Gibrael (also know as Gabriel) for Muhammad to read and is the month in which all Muslims fast from sunrise until sunset. There are exceptions for the sick, elderly and young, but many will observe the month of Ramadham (pronounced Ram-zaan) for the complete 29-30 days. Muslims go with out food and water during the daylight hours and this year they have been starting their fast from 4am to 8pm, to remember the poor and go through a process of self purification. Fasting enables Muslims to feel sympathy for one another and be grateful for what they have through the process of prayer and abstinence.

Ramdham is the ninth month in the lunar year and starts at the sighting of the crescent moon and continues for up to 30 days. This month is very special for Muslims as they believe the gates of heaven are open and they persevere with good deeds to gain self control and purification. During this month there is a ‘night of power’ on the 27 day of fasting; Muslims pray from the Quran during this night as they believe this night is better than any other, as during the time of the Prophet Muhammad angels were sent down to level one of heaven to pray for mankind. 

The full moon then signals the celebration day of Eid-ul-Fitr in which Muslims start the day with Eid prayer from which celebrations commence. The day is often filled with feasting and visiting relations. The moon is used throughout the Islamic calendar to count days which was the Arab method during the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Corner Shop

Sweets, chocolates

Sweets, chocolates

I have fabulous memories of the corner shop as a child, this was the place where we, my siblings and I would sneak into before we got home, load up on chocolates and then go home for tea. It was a ritual; school, catch the bus home and then down to the local corner shop before home. To be fair it was more of a newsagent than a corner shop, well a newsagent on a corner and still is to this date, the Asian owners are still the same, but it is now manned by the next generation. As a child and young teen I’d be there almost everyday, I hardly go in any more…

 

The best thing about going into the local shop was seeing the array of sweets and spending ages choosing one. These were the days when Mars bars were 10p and a can of fizzy was 25p…. in reality it was probably the closest i’d get to Charlie’s’ chocolate factory in Huddersfield.

Hope

Looking across the ocean we see the inauguration of Barak Obama, he has beeen sworn in as president of the United States of America; the first African American president. This person places ‘United’ into another element in which Black and Asian people everywhere will look at themselves and say ‘we are united, anything is possible’. People of all races, religions and creeds, people from different states and continents will look at themselves and think this is achievable we could be President or Prime Minister; it gives us hope for ourselves and for our future generations. 

 

Researching South Asians in Huddersfield and seeing the diversity within Huddersfield and Yorkshire, shows how far the minority communities have come; working initially in manual labour jobs, leaving behind families and now being able to achieve highly skilled jobs makes you understand the sacrifice the previous generations have done was worthwhile, paving the way for us and future Barak Hussein Obamas.

The Wedding – All that glitters

 

Wedding Bouquet

Wedding Bouquet

So the day finally arrived, the day of the wedding, the day that we had spent months preparing for… co-ordinating clothes, shoes and accessories, the day our brother was getting married 🙂

 

Now we had matched up the groom’s outfit to go with the bride, who was wearing the sherman which I quote he said “sounds like someone herding sheep” LOL. Anyway a sherwani, paag; which is a traditional hat and kusay; which are hand-made leather shoes, embroidered with gold thread and turned up at the front (these can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes). He also had a red and gold scarf over his shoulders to match the bride.  
 
 As we were on the boys side, the wedding part was hosted by the girls side of the Newcastle. We arrived in convey outside the hotel  and entered with two Dhol players heading the front of the procession from which we were greeted with flower garlands,  the sisters were given a single red rose each and then were then lead to the stage area. The colour theme was red and gold and everything was beautifully co-ordinated, somehow even the guests were!!
Groom's Side

Groom's Side

 

Live Classical Indian Music

Live Classical Indian Music

Classical Indian music was playing in the background, a live sitar and tabla and the dinner was a four course silver service feast (five including the cake). So the setting was perfect.

Now for the important stuff the Nikkah. Muslim ceremonies have a nikkah which is the religious part of the wedding and basically like the vows at a Civil Ceremony. The bride is separate from the groom and is asked by an Imaan (Muslim priest) if she consents to marriage, this is asked three times and she will reply “I do” or “Kabool Hai”. Once the bride agrees she signs the marriage document and the Imaan asks the groom the same three times if he consents to marry his bride to be. Once agreed the groom also signs the form and the Imaan prays that they have a happy life together and the congratulations begin.

It is traditional for the Groom side to bring Shewaray; dried dates, coconut and other things which are given out straight after the Nikkah (like wedding favours). After everyone has congratulated the groom the bride comes into the main hall and sits with her husband…awww.

The eating begins and finishes with a three-tier wedding cake, after which gifts are

Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake

given to the groom’s family from the bride’s family and we finish the wedding by the Rukhsati…taking the bride home.

 

See website www.asianvoices.org.uk/galleries for more wedding pictures x