Category Archives: Wedding

Eggless – Food and Religion

Food is an important aspect in many faiths and many religions have specific requirements. Religions from Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism all have religious requirements. Depending on the how strictly you follow your own faith influences the extent to which you will follow these regulations. Christianity includes the faiths of Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant and each of these faiths have varying food influences and requirements. Catholic and Orthodox Christians observe several fast and feast days during the year and Protestants celebrate Christmas and Easter. Even the ritual communion celebrated by Christians involves food and drink which represents Jesus through bread and wine.

But imagine coming to live in a country where you are alien to the culture and language and then having to maintain your religious food requirements. In Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, all of these faiths have foods which are forbidden. In Islam the concept of Halal and Haram is applied. Halal means ‘lawful’ or ‘permitted’ and this concept is applied not just in food, but all aspects of a Muslim’s life. Halal foods are allowed and those prohibited are Haram meaning ‘not permitted’ which includes pork and alcohol.

Judaism follows a similar requirement with regards to food and Kashrut refers to laws permitting food in the Jewish religion. Kosher means food ‘fit’ or ‘permitted’ and foods which are not permitted include pork and shellfish. Kosher and Halal foods have specific religious requirements at the time of slaughter and it is this which differentiates Halal and Kosher meat from other meat.

To access Halal food in the 1960’s in Yorkshire was a challenge and many people resorted to undertaking the preparation and animal slaughter at home just to be able to eat meat once a month and maintain their religious beliefs. Now walking about in Huddersfield, Bradford, Dewsbury, Leeds and many other Yorkshire towns, you will be hard pressed not to be able to find any Halal meat shops or grocery stores catering to the needs of the South Asian community, but there are still some gaps in the food market that are not being met and are still not catering for all religions or faiths.

Hinduism believes in the interdependence of life and people who practice the Hindu religion don’t eat meat from any animal or any food that is involved in the taking of life. Many Hindus are vegetarian, which is not compulsory and most Hindus do not eat beef or beef products, as the cow is sacred. This belief in life means that many Hindus do not eat eggs. So if you were celebrating an event, where would you go to get an eggless cake? London, Birmingham, but what about locally? Why do you have to undergo challenges to maintain your faith? Understanding the role of food in cultural and religious practice is an important way of showing respect and responding to the needs of the people from religious communities, from which we will be able to avoid assumptions about a person’s religious beliefs and culture.

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Winter Wedding

Taditional henna (mehndi) on the brides hands

Taditional henna (mehndi) on the brides hands

December is the time for Chritmas, presents, tinsel and Santa Claus…so where does a winter wedding fit into all this and not just any wedding, but a traditional full South-Asian wedding. Now a South Asian wedding is not like any other, I can tell you because not only have I experienced my own taditional wedding and civil ceremony, but have undertaken the role of my brothers wedding. Now having had experience previously, from mine and my older brother  you would think that it is easier or at least you know what you should be doing well no! Because it’s not just one event, but several…I will break it down for you but first let me explain the thinking behind it, the important people are not just the bride and groom, but all the family and when I say all I mean ALL!!!

Mum, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, (mum and dad’s side) grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, first, second, third and even forth cousins…need i go on, it may sould like a normal wedding, but don’t forget we have big families, I am one of four (not so big) but my dad is one of six and my mum one of eight or was it nine?!

Traditional stage where the bride to be (or groom to be) sit

Traditional stage where the bride to be (or groom to be) sit

So the ceremonies; first we have a Mehndi – similar to a hen party (but without alcohol) so we have the girls attending the event who will dance with mehndi plates and then we eat, basically a girls night out. The bride- to-be will stit adorned in traditional mehndi colours of yellow and green, while everyone entertains her. Now traditionally the bride and groom have seperate Mehndis but on occassions as the British and Asian cultures are intergrating, so are the ceremonies (my brother is having seperate ones, therefore more events to attend!)

Secondly, we have the Wedding. Now Indian and Pakistani weddings differ from the religious ceremony, Muslim ceremonys have a NIKKAH and Hindu and Sikh ceremonies are in line with their religions. Overall in both there is a BARRAAT (grooms side) which is what I am on and we go to where

Bride and groom

Bride and groom

the brides familiy are holding the event, taking traditional gifts (wedding favours, Indian sweets- Mati and gift baskets). This is where the brides family greet the groom with flowered garlands (traditionally in Pakistan and India it is made of money – we are in the middle of a credit crunch so flowers are fine!!) and then in seperate rooms the bride and groom undertake the Nikkah, religious bit where they agree to the wedding (like vows). Then they are allowed to sit together and wedding favours are given out before the big full works meal of pilau rice, roast, curry, starter, dessert etc. Then we have the crying bit, the RUKHSATI where the girl leaves with the groom to his house.

The third ceremony is the WALIMA. This is basically a dinner party for the masses the grooms side holds after the wedding; can be a day after or a week whenever you like (some leave this out) religiously it is not a must, but preferential. 

Then we have the CIVIL CEREMONY in the registry office with close family.  WOW! I think thats everything, so I am busy… then  Christmas holidays and not to forget Eid  is around the 8th and I though December was a quiet month…oh but wouldn’t  it be nice if it snowed and then it would really be a wedding wonderland!!

See website www.asianvoices.org.uk/galleries/view/7  for more wedding pictures x

Please comment if you are from Kirklees and would like your wedding story or family heritage recorded on the Asian Voices website, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and undertaken by the University of Huddersfield.