Why I love being ‘desi’

2017-04-26 06:00

THERE’S so much to learn from different cultures and living in South Africa means we’re lucky to experience this diversity.

People often tell me they find the Indian culture interesting and the statement is often followed by: “You have the most delicious food and the most stunning clothing.”

Yes, it is a vibrant, colourful culture and one that I am extremely proud to be a part of, so proud that it got me thinking about all the things I love about being desi (term for the people, cultures, and products of the Indian subcontinent), apart from bunny chows and lenghas (Indian women’s cultural attire).

Every culture has old-school remedies and concoctions that we remember gran or mom using on us as if we were guinea fowls in a lab.

Well, as strange as they were, these remedies and potions worked, but sadly, we don’t make much use of in them in modern world we live in.

A few years ago, we saw the world go crazy over coconut oil, but Indians have been using it for centuries - I kid you not.

Ask almost any Indian, male or female, and they’ll tell you that growing up, the only hair treatment they used was coconut oil – me included.

I schooled at an ex-model C school for the latter part of my primary education and when my Caucasian friends spoke about the latest hair products, I could not relate. Coconut oil it was, despite the fact that my mom is a hairdresser. I am however, grateful that she chose the old- school way to treat my hair because it has certainly paid off. The sad part is that I never continued this tradition with my daughters.

Many have never heard of a spring festival, celebrated in India called Holi, but they have heard and even attended several colour runs and colour festivals, which there also seems to be a craze over.

The colour run promotes fitness and togetherness within a community by running, jogging or walking and then everyone splashes each other with colourful powders. The festival is one big party with musicians and deejays.

The idea for both these events comes from Holi, a festival celebrated in India around March to welcome spring, socialise with family and friends and is as a thanksgiving for a good harvest.

Need a good facial mask? Forget about those expensive products advertised on TV and opt for a mixture of turmeric, sandalwood powder and rose water. This is a thrice a week beauty ritual for me and believe it or not, every Hindu bride and groom has to be is plastered with a similar mixture before he or she gets married to give them that pre-marital “glow” that everyone refers to.

It’s a great, all natural and affordable skin treatment, not to mention, turmeric has numerous health benefits (when ingested), but I’ll leave that to you and Google.

Speaking of Indian weddings, if you haven’t seen your relatives in a while, you’ll see almost all of them at a wedding because everybody is invited, even your second cousin’s neighbour. My wedding, however, was considered “small” due to the fact that only 200 people were invited. Yes, that is a small wedding for us. My brother on the other hand, had 500 people at his wedding. Trust me, there would have been more, but that’s all the Port Shepstone Civic Centre could accommodate.

That’s another thing I love about being Indian, the weddings and more specifically Hindu weddings because of the pre-matrimony celebrations. Go big or go home.

If anyone can watch a Hindi movie without crying, they deserve a medal. The story lines often revolve around love and family and most of them have been known to turn on the water works.

Here, I refer to older movies like the famous . In the more recent years, Hindi movies, unfortunately, have become rather Westernised in my opinion, but the music is still great and the actors and actresses are gorgeous.

And then there’s Diwali which I am looking forward to later this year. Preparations begin at least a month in advance. The sweet meats, food, new clothing, fireworks, rituals, visits from family and friends and exchanging of Diwali treats are all elements of what makes it a much anticipated day in the Hindu calendar.

Even my non-Hindu family, although they don’t celebrate the significance of it, they look forward to the family coming together and of course, the spread that is served just before fireworks are lit.

So there’s this and so much more that I love about my culture, I could go on and on.Oh yes, one last thing, when you’re Indian you know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone that can get almost any job done - “connections” they say.

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