Category Archives: traditions

New photos of Huddersfield

Huddersfield Railway Station and St Georges Square, March 2010

Huddersfield Railway Station and St Georges Square, March 2010

 

Take a look at the new images of Huddersfield added to the Asian Voices website, including the new look St Georges Square, The Empire Cinema which was popular in the 1960’s and still stand today. Also see if you can see the symbols of the British Empire on the buildings which have been around since the 1800’s. 

http://www.asianvoices.org.uk/galleries/view/8

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!

Oral history and what it means.

So far, the Asian Voices project has interviewed many people from the South Asian community and documented their experiences and memories about coming to England.  It has been an eye-opening, fascinating experience to take part in and it will provide an invaluabe archive of the thoughts and feelings of those who experienced this important period in British history first hand.  This, however, is not the sole purpose of Asian Voices or indeed oral history as a whole.  Looking at some parts of various transcripts it is easy to see why.

“We got Saturday and Sunday off, but we had to go shopping and clean the house.  We were tenants but we had to clean the house, and cook for ourselves.  We used to cook fish but there wasn’t an awful lot of fish around.  We used to put curry powder into it and make a sort of curry.  After a few years, there were a couple of shops where we could get halal meat on George St. There was a Pakistani shop there, but we used to kill our own chickens.  We used to go to a farm to get chickens and halal them ourselves.” – Sabir Hussain

This part of Mr. Hussain’s interview shows clearly how and why oral history is such a relevant tool for more than just the cataloguing of events.  For a community such as South Asian immigrants, particularly in Britain, oral history serves to give  people a voice where, in many cases, they haven’t had one before. 

South Asian immigrants to the UK possess some of the richest, most diverse and most interesting cultural history, yet in a historical sense it is an aspect of our country’s history which has been overlooked.  With oral history, the very people who participated in this movement are able to say what they feel about it themselves before it is too late.

When the British Empire collapsed in the late 1940s due to Britain’s heavily weakened state after World War 2, Britain needed workers.  Men like Sabir came from their homes in Southern Asia to aid Britain at a time when their labour was invaluable.  Asian Voices has given these people the chance to say what it was like to come to Britain and find work, mostly in industrial jobs, and form a community that has remained strong and secure ever since.

“The first job I did, the name of the firm was TA Corckings.  They used to make hydraulic rings for aeroplanes and ships.  Technically I was very good and I made many  rings and I checked rings and could say whether they were good rings or bad omes.   That’s why the firm owner was very taken with me and thought I was a real asset to the firm.” – Sabir Hussain

The purpose that men like Sabir served in those early days of South Asian immigration to the UK is what oral history and the Asian Voices programme is all about.  It aims to show the community how and why these men and women came to Britain, and tell the fascinating stories they have about their experiences in doing so.

Accents in ‘uddersfield

View of Castle Hill from Sikh Temple in Springwood

View of Castle Hill from Sikh Temple in Springwood

With transport being so readily available and travel instant, people are diluting their accents to an acceptable form as they are no longer restricted to living and working in one town or city. I am born and bred in ‘uddersfield, and with fellow Yorkshire men and lasses my accent will go back to the Yorkshire form it should be, but in the workplace and even on the phone I find I am speaking the way one should… but how should one speak? and how long will we be able to keep our regional accents and dialects without diluting them to the extent they no longer exist?

Oral history is the way in which this can be preserved. For years now oral historians have been recoding and archiving hundreds if not thousands of interviews with people on subjects of the past. Going back to World War I and the experience of the soldiers in the trenches, World War II and the migration of the South Asian community after the collapse of the British Empire. Here are just a few of the subject areas in which people have delved into, but listening back to the sound archives makes you appreciate the language and tones in which ordinary people communicated in. How times have changed, how diverse language has become, with the Oxford dictionary taking on new words constantly, words originating from across cultures and continents, it is something to think of. Try recording your older generations on your phone and see if you can catch a glimpse of the past through their voice.

Diwali

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights which will start on the 17th October 2009. Here are some recipes to get you cooking for Diwali:

wheat laddo

Wheat Laddu
Ingredients:
1 cup Wheat Flour
1/4 cup Gram Flour
11/2 cup Sugar Powder
1/4 cup Grated Coconut
1/4 cup Dry Fruit almonds, raisins, kaju etc
1 cup Ghee

Preparation:
1. Heat the ghee.
2. Put both the flours in the heated ghee.
3. When nearly roasted put coconut and sliced dry fruit in the mixture.
4. Now put the ground sugar in the mixture and stir thoroughly.
5. Take off from the heat quickly and make laddus. You may also put the mixture in an oil based thali & make small pieces.

 

kheer Kheer

Ingredients:
1 litre milk, 1 tbsp basmati rice(washed), 1 cup sugar, 2-3 bay leaves, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 5 cardamoms, 4 cm cinnamon, 4 cloves, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp ghee.
For Garnishing:6 almonds(sliced), a handful of raisins, 8 cashewnuts(chopped), a little ghee.

Method:
Heat ghee in a pressure cooker.Add bay leaves and cuminseeds.When they splutter add 2 tbsp sugar.Lower the heat and stir the sugar.When it caramelises to a dark brown colour, add milk, When the milk comes to a boil, add rice.Stir well.Pressure cook for 10-15 minutes.When cool, mix the rice and milk well with a hand beater.Add sugar and simmer for 5 minutes.Remove from heat.Powder cinnamon, cardamoms and cloves finely, and add to the milk.Stir well. Heat a little ghee and fry the raisins, cashewnuts and almonds lightly.Add to the milk and serve.

Yorkshire in Pictures

Leeds Mela 2009Asian Artists

Indian elephant

 

Yorkshire events in pictures, 2009.

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.