Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Culture shocks - no more like differences

I have been vey lucky to be exposed to many different people from different cultures and religions at a very young age. I did most of my schooling in different International schools.

But yet, when I came to England, two years back, I find it difficult to explain some of the Indian customs and culture here. A few that I have always found difficulty with are:

1) What is that "spot" on your forehead? - The spot on my forehead has always raised questions - what is it? what does it signify? are you married? ...
Well, my answer is - it is a custom that I have grown up with and it is called bindi or tikka. It used to signify different casts in the earlier days but now it is not so. No, I am not married and married women are not the only ones who wear the bindi. It is also known as the point for the third eye but I just believe it is the point of attention.
The worst about my answer is I have no idea how much of it is correct!

2) Arranged marriages - This is always taken as a shock and most people cannot comprehend the same. So I am bombarded with questions and opinions about it. How does it work?... Yes, I want an arranged marriage...I am not against people who have love marriages but I am not for it...I prefer most of the compatability stuff getting done by my parents and I just saying yes or no in the end...I am not confident about making the most important decision in my life all by myself from the very begining...And it is a well-known fact in India, that marriage is not just between the guy and gal but more so between the ofcourse, I would like parents to approve and find the guy and the family respectively...

I cannot think of any more right now...But as and when it comes , I shall update you...and maybe in another post about differences I find hard to accept...


  1. Nice post. There are lot of different stories going on about Bindi. As you said, we don’t know which one is correct. I also heard the red bindi is associated with the ancient practice of offering blood sacrifices to appease the Gods.

    One ridiculous practice is widows should not wear bindi. I do not understand the logic. Girls can wear bindi from birth. The husband comes years later. But if he dies the wife should stop wearing bindi.

    I live in USA and people misunderstand Indian customs and culture. This happened couple of times. If we go to someone’s house, the host would ask me if he/she can bring something to drink for my wife. My reply: Hey, she is the one who is going to drink. So ask her.

  2. culture shocks and the questions people ask about our asian-ness. :)

  3. Bindi from what I remember was started to keep the Chakra which is on the forehead cool and projected. Hence back in the day it was haldi, Kumkum and chandan which use to be used there. Over time with change and modernization they were replaced with the stick on bindi of various colours, sizes and styles :)

  4. @Sidra : I agree ...

    @comfortablynam: I didn't know of the chakra...

  5. Very nice post. Well written, warm and witty.

  6. Aparna,

    Which part of England? Most English know 'Bindi'. I think they are are just being rude. Also most British know arranged marriage..I think it is just their way of looking down..

    Ignore them.

  7. @Sanand: Thank you.

    @A : I am in Cambrdige. I agree the Britishers know what bindi is but some have misconceptions about the same. I wouldn't consider what my acquaintances tell me as looking is more of "oh, that is a different culture!"...or "hmm, are you sure about that?" ... and in Cambridge, as you could imagine there people from so many places that the post was not to talk about Britishers as much as all the different people. Thanks for following me...