South Asian Heritage Month

Hiya

I was super excited about South Asian Heritage Month and I upset my IG grid pattern by doing pics only. It was worth it. I had so much fun reflecting on what I love about me heritage and sharing all my tidbits. Below I have pulled all my posts together for you to enjoy 🙂

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~ SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH~ Fashion (1) ~

In my own way I wanted to share a few posts about how I connect with being South Asian, specifically Indian. When someone talks to me about going to India, is it terrible that I instantly think of shopping. It is the only type of clothes shopping I enjoy. I like to choose outfits that suit my personality and love to wear something different to the norm.

I feel confident when I wear Indian clothes. I spend time accessorising them perfectly. I make timetables of what I will wear to what event (because God forbid someone sees me wearing the same outfit twice- this really should not be a thing). I love the fabrics, the intricate embroidery, the colours, the fact that it is made to measure so it will fit my body.

I don’t think I feel the same joy when I wear western clothing. The colours are muted in comparison and I most definitely do not bother accessorising.

What bothers me is that the minute I step into a western environment, I no longer feel comfortable. I feel Other. And I don’t want to stand out anymore. I really wish I didn’t because I love my outfits so much!

How do you feel when you wear your Asian outfits?

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~ SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH ~ Fashion (2) ~

Have you ever been clothes shopping in India? It is like nothing you will have experienced elsewhere. It is a complete sensory experience. It may be an overload for some (not me, I live for it), as it is a truly immersive experience.

You see lots and lots of bright coloured fabrics and men throwing fabric rolls out so you can see the whole outfit. They may even pose with it wrapped around them so you can see how it may look on you. Queue giggles from me and the family. There is no one more confident than a man trying to sell you a lengha.

I love feeling the fabric as they throw it, imagining how it would feel once it is cut up and sewn back together to fit me perfectly. I love that elders in my family will just touch a fabric and tell me about its quality as they have worked as seamstresses in the UK after they moved here from India.

You can hear the hubbub of the streets outside as you navigate through the shopping districts, people shouting “penji come to my store”.

The smells really do take getting used to. The fabrics smell wafts in the air as they are rolled out, the smells of the town and food stalls outside.

One of my favourite parts of shopping is that if you sit in a store for long enough, they will bring you food! My favourite food stall is in Phagwara that sells fresh aloo tikkis with chaat. I can drool thinking about it right now. 😋

Whats your favourite (or worst) part of going shopping in India? Whats your favourite city and shops to shop in? Asking for a friend 😜

📷 Samraj’s first trip to India when he was 13 months old. He was asking the shopkeeper to pull more fabric down! 😂

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~ SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH ~ Pregnancy wear ~

When I was 7 months pregnant, my cousin got married! I thought I would share what I wore all that time ago. I have so much love for these simple but effective outfits. I was really concerned about what I would wear as usually I have my outfits fitted months in advance so I am ready to go. This time I had to guess what my size would be and the outfits came back so loose I could have fit in them twice!

I loved being pregnant as you can tell in the pics. What I didn’t love was being told to sit down and not dance. I still danced anyway 💃 My elders didn’t understand that keeping active is good for the baby!

What I really didn’t enjoy was the lack of Indian outfit options for post pregnancy. I found that really difficult as I wanted to attend family events but the faff that came with attempting to breastfeed whilst wearing long kameez tops was really off-putting.

I find it strange that there is an entire industry marketed towards South Asian women, but does not cater to the needs and comfort of said women.

If you have worn Asian outfits whilst breastfeeding, how did you manage? Please share or drop me a DM. Im sure lots of mums would love to know how you got on!

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~ SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH ~ Cuisine (1) ~

Sunday Brunch in a Punjabi household. The God Tier of all Indian food. Aloo Paratha/ parantha/ parothi. However you say it, one thing is common. This is the most delicious breakfast. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t like it. And if they didn’t like it, I’m not sure whether i would meet them again. 😉

Imagine my horror in 2011 when I was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease. Gluten was off the menu for good. There is no cure. I just have to cut out all wheat, barley, rye products. To me, that meant roti, parothe, samose, gulab jamun. I cried about this for such a long time. A huge part of me connecting with people is the food we share together. That we sit together and swap and share dishes. We eat with our hands. Being Punjabi in all its loveliness and fun.

So here I am, years on, adjusting to a healthier lifestyle. My mum is always trying to find my dad, my sister and I (did you know that Coeliac runs in families?) gluten free flour so we can eat a decent roti. Parothe are easier to cook as you have extra ingredients to help it bind. GF flour is harder to roll and impossible to get in the shape you want it to be.

Whats your favourite Sunday brunch? I have parothe with a shed load of butter (apparently its a Midlands thing) and yoghurt and a cup of chaa. What do you fill your parotha with? And top it with? Are you Team Round Parotha or Square Parotha? (Mine is whichever it rolls into that day)

If you say achaar (pickle), I may disown you. 🤢 My love for parothe can become political very fast! Haha 😄 Also Pic 3 is my Sunday face, no make up and covered in atta no matter how much I try to be tidy!

Have a lovely Sunday everyone!

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~ SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH ~ Cuisine ~

Tea is globally associated to be a British tradition. Afternoon tea is quite easily one of my favourite activities. However the one thing I cannot live without is a cuppa chaa / chai. I remember going to someones house as a child and they asked if we wanted tea then PUT THE KETTLE ON. I felt like I’d walked into an alternate universe. In South Asia (please correct me if I am wrong), tea is made in a saucepan.

Ingredients like elaichi, laung, sonf, adrak are boiled in water before adding milk, then brought to a boil. Excuse that i have said all the Punjabi words for the ingredients. There’s some words i just don’t know the English for 🙈 Also note: chai tea is not a thing. You’re essentially saying Tea Tea. Chai tea latte = tea tea coffee 🤔

So many brands have started making their own masala chai teabags which are really lovely such as @teaindiauk .

What are your fave Ingredients in your chai? What do you have with it? This week I’ve been having a cheeky homemade ladoo (or two) made by my beautiful masiji @manjk74 and bibiji!

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~ SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH ~ Cuisine (3) ~

An Ode to Ladoo. One of my first memories is of being at my Nani’s house watching the entire family, my naniji, nanaji, masis and mamas make ladoo in a production line. It was what we did as a family on a Friday night and sold to the public of Wolverhampton. They queued outside my grandparents house to get them fresh every week. @educatinggeeta I promise I will write this up as a story for your writing group soon!

Ladoos are a sweet ball of goodness, often given as gifts to family and friends at times of happiness such as the birth of a child, or wedding. I may be biased but my family make the best ladoo in the world. We make them for every happy occasion in the family and they are made with such love, that you can taste it.

I’ve always associated ladoo with happiness and families coming together. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of these moments but I’ll be more mindful to take some next time.

Also I’m proud of the brilliant work of my friend Raj in her pursuit to celebrate the birth of all children with the amazing @pinkladoo project. If and when i have more children, there will be lots of ladoo and family memories to be made! 🟡🟠🔴

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~ SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH ~ BOLLYWOOD ~

Growing up in the 90s meant that there wasn’t many people who looked like me on television. As a child I would be reliant on my dad going to the video shop on Fridays to get the latest Bollywood movie. I would watch that movie everyday until Dad had to return the video.

You could say that Bollywood is the joy in my soul. When I feel sad, I put on some old songs and dance. This week’s tune of choice is Dil Kya Kare 💜

My favourite part of going to @cotswoldlavendar a few weeks ago was recreating this iconic DDLJ scene. My sister played Raj and got it spot on. I however ran, slipped, swore, and my phone fell out my bra because I didn’t have pockets. Bollywood is just not ready for my talent 😂

What bollywood song is your guilty pleasure?

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~ SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH ~ YOGA ~

Recently I have been more mindful how I engage with my South Asian heritage. Yoga has been a hot topic within the Asian community, focusing on cultural appropriation. I had never really understood yoga. My first encounter with yoga was via Punjabi TV channels with Baba Ramdev doing various positions and that stomach turning thing that was simply mind boggling and intimidating.

Around 5 years ago, I was really struggling with backache. I was told that yoga would help. I started with doing some online videos then joined a class with my local gym. Classes that were led by White British women, for White women. I was almost always the only brown face in the room. The focus was always on what pose you could do and how far you could challenge your body. It was great in some ways but I always felt that there was something missing. Maybe because I started each class with my teeth clenching when the class started and ended with a “Namaste” or “Aum”. Even now when I search online on YouTube, all the top videos are of White women focusing on physical strength and flexibility.

Recently I connected with @Deepa4Yoga. She talked to me about how yoga is not about just the physical practice, but of your spiritual connection with the Universe or God or whatever it is you believe in. When I attend her Zoom classes, I attend with my Mind, Body and Soul. I feel grounded and use my breath to ground, challenge and strengthen myself further. Her New Moon and Full Moon classes are incredible, focusing on healing and forgiveness. Lord knows, I need a lot of that in my life right now. I have finally found yoga with the support of a wonderful yogi who understands the core principles of it. In my own time I am trying to learn by reading B.K.S Iyengar’s “Light on Life”.

For more about the cultural appropriation of Yoga, see @poornabell and @itsmeanitab IG Live on the topic. It’s really insightful and blew my mind. Did you know that the British cut off the thumbs of Yogis when they colonized India?

Do you use Yoga in your daily practice? What helps you connect spiritually?

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~ SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH ~ HAIRCARE ~

Did anyone feel forced to have their hair slathered with some form of oil when they were growing up? My family have/ had some strong beliefs (depends on the individual) about hair. I was not allowed to cut my hair full stop due to “religious beliefs”. It grew way past my bottom. If not plaited, I would resemble what I imagine Hagrid’s little sister would look like (including the big beard, I am Asian after all). Hair oil was essential to tame the beast.

I grew up resenting my hair. I hated the smell of the oil. There was a fine balance between looking frizzy and looking greasy. It makes me sad now thinking back to all the energy and daily arguments that would ensue because I disliked my hair so much. I always felt so self conscious that someone would comment on my perceived greasy hair. Many years on, I have reflected that my pursuit for slinky shiny glossy dead straight hair was based on what I saw in magazines and other girls in my school who did not look like me. I wanted what they had (which essentially was Whiteness).

These days, everyone is oiling their hair. All the big brands have hair “masks” which are essentially all the oils that the generations of women above me lovingly rubbed into their children’s hair, protecting their hair. My peer @hummaandleeb has written a brilliant blog on how first generation Asians had to give up so much when they moved to the UK and held onto as many traditions that they possibly could to make this foreign land feel like home.

With time I have reclaimed my hair care routine. Around once a week I spend time rubbing coconut oil into my locks, just like my momma did, and my grandmothers before that. Funnily enough, I now have shiny glossy hair that I always wanted as a result. Here’s to luscious locks!

Do you rub oil into your hair? Which one? What brands do you use? As you can see I am a KTC user, but I wonder if I could improve my hair oil game. I look forward to your suggestions.

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~ SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH~ HISTORY LESSONS~

As South Asian Heritage Month comes to an end, I wonder what happens next. I’ve seen some great posts from my buddy @raveetawrites through the month, particularly her posts on Partition in 1947. When I heard about the British Raj in school, I heard about how the “sun never set on the British Empire” said with pride and sadness that the “good old days” were over, and it was such a damn shame that these countries had their independence back.

At home, I watched movies like Gadar, Pinjar, Lagaan, Shaheed Uddham Singh, Shaheed Bhagat Singh (both of them). All of them focused on the atrocities that occurred in India under British rule. Watching these films really created a dissonance in my mind. I was living in the UK, benefiting from all the privileges that my life here gave me, yet I felt anger and resentment towards the land I had given birth in.

George Orwell wrote that “history is written by the winners”. Considering the “history” we have been taught at school, does that make the British the winners. I refuse to believe that. The brutalities, the systematic looting, and breakdown of nations must be accounted for and taught to children at schools to give a balanced view of what life was like living under British Rule. If this was the case, I wonder what impact this would have on our future generations, and how they would see race and ethnicity. Would it build compassion for other races, and for people fleeing their homelands that are currently being ripped apart?

It’s a long journey ahead. What are your thoughts? How do you feel about British school curriculums?

 

Hope you enjoyed this series!

Aman x

 

 

 

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