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MARCH 2013


London is one of the most multi-cultural cities, yet it is poor in terms of having integrated communities. We need to raise awareness of different cultures, by introducing the crucial parts of particular cultures. Each season we will produce an informative magazine on different cultures. This issue is based on the Indian culture. It’s an intriguing ethnicity that makes visually interesting images. Indians have many fascinating traditions that we explored. Furthermore, as Indians are London’s largest non-white ethnic minority group, with a population of around 500,000, it is crucial that we recognise the culture and learn as much as we can about them. Places we explored include Brick Lane in East London, Alperton in North West London, Tooting in the South, and Southall (also known as ‘Little India’) in West London.


Editor In Chief Design Photography Writing

Betoul Mahdey Helena Mueller Jemma Newman Gianluca Marino Lorna McColl


Helen Hasse Louis Sayers Sonal Patel

Cover photo by Helena Mueller 2

During the 300th Baisakhi celebrations in 1999 (one of many Indian festivals) in Anandpur Sahib they had these massive tents to hold thousands and thousands of people. Photo by Gurumustuk Singh (creativecommons)











Different customs and traditions in India

Where London meets India



‘Little India’ in London

Peace, justice and self-control







A couple of Bollywood film reviews

A home made recipe

Cooking as an art form









Controlling the state of mind

A travel story from India

Popular Hindu celebrations

Colourful silks, glistening crystals, spectacular patterns









Holi, Rangoli, and Diwali

& Indian freedom fighters - Singh and Gandhi

Mystic thrill, curiosity and fear

Thanks for reading!

Varanasi is the spiritual centre of Hinduism

Left page: Holi Festival, see page 8. Photo by OnTheGoTours (creativecommons)





Text by Lorna McColl, Illustration by Helena Mueller

The Indian culture will entice you in with its vibrant colours, exiting traditions and unique lifestyle. There are many different customs and traditions depending on where the Indian community is located. West India inhabits many different ethnic groups, but one particular community is the Guajarati’s. The language spoken by them is Gujarati, which is native to the state of Gujarat. In a Gujarati home non-vegetarian food and alcohol is completely forbidden. They instead feast on wonderfully spiced pulses and vegetables accompanied by rice and assorted breads. Gujarati women traditionally wear beautifully embellished Indian jewellery consisting of bangles, rings, nose rings and necklaces. Usually, younger women will wear western outfits compared to the older generation who mostly wear saris. Usually, men wear trousers and t-shirts, although, traditionally, males will wear dhotis,  be it every day, or on a special occasion. A kurta is worn on top. Punjab is located in the north-western region of India. Surprisingly, there is no set language of the Punjabi people, dialects differ depending on the region of Punjab the speaker belongs to, or were raised in. Their cuisine is specialized, too; Mah Di Dal and Saron Da Saag are dishes that are exclusive only to the Punjabi community and unlike the Gujarati community, Punjab’s may eat meat if they please.

An ethnic group from eastern India are the Oriya people, whom natively speak the Oriya language which is mainly spoken in the Indian states of Odisha. The vast majority of the Oriyas are Hindus and are known for their history of Sun worship. The Oriya people express themselves in a variety of ways but one popular form is through dance, particularly Odissi, a classical Indian dance. Oriya cuisine reflects the state’s location. Seafood is particularly prominent in their dishes and is eaten usually with rice.

The most commonly spoken languages in India are Hindu (the official language of the Republic of India), Bengali (native to the region of eastern South Asia), Telugu (predominantly spoken in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh), and Marathi (spoken in Maharashtra and parts of other nearby states.)



“The festival of colours,” Holi is the Hindu festival that welcomes the arrival of spring, celebrating new life and energy produced by the season. The festival bridges the social gap and renews relationships. During the celebration, people hug and wish each other a ‘Happy Holi’. Celebrations last over two days and begin on the evening of the full moon, where bonfires are lit in the streets. People rub ‘gulal’ and ‘abeer’ on each others’ faces and cheer saying, “bura na maano Holi hai”. The children throw water balloons at passers-by and if anybody stares they shout, ‘Bura na mano Holi hai!” The next day, people of all ages go into the streets to witness and take part in street parades and paint-throwing. A highlight for many is a tradition where both men and women take part in a mock battle against the other sex, the catch is that women always win, as men are not allowed to fight back. Holi is looked upon highly in the Hindu religion, the strict rules of separation between males and females are abandoned, and enjoyment is promoted in a relaxed and humoured atmosphere. Hindu legends are praised through the forms of dance and song. This year Holi will be celebrated on the evening of March 26th and throughout the following day.

Text by Lorna McColl, Photography by OnTheGoTours (creativecommons)




Rangoli is a popular form of folk art from India. It consists of drawn images and patterns, usually created from brightly coloured powders. Traditionally, these powders are made from a mixture of rice flour and food colouring, although for convenience, coloured chalk powder or sand are commonly used. Indians sometimes use vibrant flower petals or spices for special occasions, such as Diwali and birthdays. Rangoli is a symbol of religious and cultural beliefs and is thought to ward off evil. It is also said to bring good luck and fortune during the Hindu festival of Diwali. Rangoli is drawn early in the morning by the women of the house, outside the home to welcome visitors with grace and elegance; but most importantly, to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi, who in Hindu mythology is known as the goddess of wealth and purity. Rangoli can also be found in places of worship, and even at workplaces and eateries. Some popular traditional Rangoli motifs consist of lotus flowers, fish, peacocks, foliage and human figures. The skill of creating Rangoli is taught from one generation to the next. Rangoli is seen as very important, as it expresses the women’s prayers, painted from the heart into this decorative form of art.

Text by Lorna McColl. Photography by Tleparskas (top), bmwguggenheimlab (bottom) (creativecommons) 10




Diwali is the ‘festival of lights’, one of the most important dates in the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated by Hindus all over the world, and prayers are offered to the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi. Diwali is an official holiday in India, symbolising the victory of good over evil. In the calendar as we know it Diwali usually falls between October and November. The five day festival is filled with lots of light in the air, sweets being shared, and new clothes put on. Children play with firecrackers, light shows are put on in the streets, and ceremonies are held in temples.

infinite and eternal spirit beyond the physical body and mind, which during Diwali is being revealed. Therefore the symbolism of ‘the victory of good over evil’ refers to the awakening of the clean inner spirit which is freed from all ignorance, and instead filled with compassion and the awareness that all things are connected. Hindus rejoice at this birth of ‘inner light’ just as we celebrate our physical birth. While the way Diwali is celebrated varies from region to region the underlying idea is the same everywhere.

The spiritual meaning behind Diwali is ‘the awareness of the inner light’. Central to Hinduism is the idea that there is a pure,

Text by Helena Mueller, Photography by Paul Carvill (creativecommons)





MEDITATION controls the state of mind where only consciousness and awareness remains. As the level of control and concentration increases, the mind reaches the stage of ultimate peace. Meditation is a simple procedure that is difficult to master. Text by Lorna McColl, Photography by Nicolas DS (previous page), Glowform (this page) (- c.commons)


About 80% of the Indian population regard themselves as Hindu. Hinduism incorporates many different traditions, but one important custom Hindus practice, is the art of meditation. The act of being able to access the deeper part of their being and wash away any negative thought, stress or worry. Silence plays a big role in meditation. It is believed among Hindus that within silence, one can discover their inner strength and see the eternity of life. It takes years to master meditation, and gain what is ultimately achievable.

The next stage is more time consuming. The object or thought at hand is thought about, but one must creatively think of different aspects of it, and see how it can be moulded into perfection. For example, for most if you were to see a seed that is all you would see. But if a Hindu meditating was to focus on a seed, they would see the seed, as well as a beautiful flower, and its life cycle from growing to dying, and formation of other plants produced from the one flower. In the third stage, the mind unites with the object and the preserver and the perceived feels as one collective consciousness.

There are three stages within meditation. The first preliminary stage is aimed at beginners, where one seeks to obtain concentration on a single object or thought. This teaches the beginner that Hindus will need to be taught by many teachers, but they must be able to place all of their concentration most are willing to commit the time and become dison the one object only and nothing else. ciplined enough in order to achieve perfection within meditation. Being able to do that means they can clear the mind of all distractions that dominate their conscious being. Osho is a well known Indian meditation master.



Gandhi during the Salt March in 1930, a campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India. 18

INDEPENDENCE DAY Text by Betoul Mahdey, Photo by Jurriaan Persyn (creativecommons)

India’s Independence Day took place on 15th August 1947. The independence movement was led by the Indian National Congress and other governmental organisations under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Independence Day marks India’s liberation from British colonialism which lasted for more than 200 years and marks the new era of a free country. Independence Day is celebrated throughout the whole country on 15th August where a public holiday is issued and films on India's freedom fighters are shown.


SINGH Bhagat Singh was one of the major leaders of the Hindustan Republican Association. Singh was born in 1907 into a politically active family in Punjab. He joined the Indian independence movement at a young age. In 1928 Lala Lajpat Rai (an Indian author and politician) led a non-violent protest against the Commission in a silent march, but the police responded with violence which soon led to the death of Lajpat Rai. This event enraged Singh leading him to shoot a British police officer; John Saunders, who Singh mistook for the man that killed Lala Lajpat Rai. Singh was on the run from the Police, but was


eventually found and held on remand for the death of Saunders. During the time on remand in prison Singh endured a voluntary 116 day fast demanding equal rights for British and Indian political prisoners. He ended up losing his appeal and was subsequently hung for his participation in the murder, aged 23 on 23rd March 1931. His legacy prompted youth in India to begin fighting for Indian independence, and he continues to be a youth idol in modern India. Singh was considered one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement.

GANDHI Mohandas Gandhi is commonly considered the father of the Indian nation. He was the leader of the Indian Nationalist movement against British rule and conducted non-violent protests achieving both social and political progress.

and hearts and then influencing them with your point of view. In 1914 Gandhi made a spectacular breakthrough, the South African government conceded to most of the demands put forward by Gandhi on behalf of the Indian immigrants.

Born in 1869 in Gujara, Gandhi’s first occupation was as a barrister in an Indian law firm in Durban, South Africa. The treatment Gandhi witnessed towards the Indian immigrants horrified him and prompted him to fight for them to help them attain basic rights.

In 1924 Gandhi withdrew from politics, devoting time to help the Hindu-Muslim relations. On 30th January 1948 Ghandi was shot dead by a radical Hindu nationalist in Delhi.

The influence of Hinduism, Jainism and Christianity (as well as famous writers including Tolstoy and Thoreau) helped Gandhi create Satyagraha, meaning “truth force.” Satyagraha is a non-violent way to protest against wrongs. The technique works by winning over the opponents’ minds

Gandhi’s non-violent movement has influenced millions both in India and across the world, his nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, increasing economic self-reliance has helped make him one of the greatest ever advocates of peace and freedom.




he intense smell of burning incense and spice infused curry entices you into the colourful street of Brick Lane in East London.

During the 17th century Huguenot (French) refugees emigrated to Brick lane, followed by Irish weavers, Ashkenazi Jews and, in the last century, a mixture of Bangladeshis, Indians and Pakistanis. Skills brought by these communities turned Brick Lane into a central place for tailoring and weaving materials for the clothing industry. These days, Brick Lane has moved on from the clothing industry to the world of Asian food. Brick Lane has become famous for its large choice of Indian restaurants, but you can find Bangladeshi 22


and Pakistani cuisine here, too. These restaurants offer visitors a large choice of food, ranging from the famous Indian Chicken Tandoori dishes to the Pakistani specialty of Lamb Acharia. There are also an influx of Indian sweet shops located in Brick Lane, welcoming residents and tourists with the sweet smell of treats such as Peera (a soft fudge) and a coconut flavoured ball-shaped sweet named Ladu. Both of these sweets are enjoyed by Indians at special occasions, such as weddings, birthdays and the Hindu festival of Diwali. These sweets and many more can be found in Rejmahal Sweets (57 Brick Lane). Modernisation has hit this street hard in the past years and many business owners in Brick Lane agreed that this street has moved away from its former heritage, to a place aimed at pleasing tourists. Sam who works at Rejmahal Sweets (a family run business) was brought up in Brick Lane and has seen this change first hand, “Brick Lane used to sell garments and materials, now people come from afar for a curry and a night out. Although people who work here are still of the same Asian community, it is less cultural, and the traditions and magic of what it used to be, has disappeared - it’s turned into a tourist attraction.” Contrasting to the restaurants and sweet shops is Sangeeta (22 Brick Lane), a traditional Muslim and Indian music store, run by Shahan Shah, 32. Shanan states, “I combine Sangeeta with my music promoting agency, Sinx. The organization Sinx is aimed at youths, unlike Sangeeta which draws in an older crowd. What we are trying to do is build a bridge between these two groups.” Shanan encourages young people to work with the older generation within the music industry and is keen to mix the two generations together. Shaman believes neither the old nor young usually support what each do as modernisation has created such a vast difference between them both. Brick Lane has become the home to many different cultures over the past 400 years and perhaps it will 24

keep changing. What is clear is the people both living and working in Brick Lane today are part of a tight-knit community, who strive to keep a well presented street, and are trying hard to maintain their traditions in a location centred around tourist activity.

Text by Lorna McColl, Photography by Helena Mueller




n Indian culture, cooking is considered an art form. Traditionally mothers teach their daughters the skill of making family recipes from a young age. In Indian families, mealtimes are regarded as important occasions to bond with relatives. Meals commonly consist of staples like breads, rice, meat and vegetables, but are pronounced with beautiful arrays of sweet aromatic spices. Usually served alongside are stunning assortments of Indian snacks that compliment the main meals. A “moreishly” mouth-watering snack is the Samosa Chaat. It has a delightfully crisp pastry shell which encloses soft spiced potato in the middle. Traditionally, this snack is topped off with a combination of yogurt, mint chutney, onion, chickpeas and sev (tiny pieces of crunchy noodles.) Chaat spice is sprinkled on top to finish off this classic snack. A perfect accompany for any Indian meal. A popular Indian street food snack is pani puri. Pani puris are little balls of deep fried flour and semolina with a hollow middle that hold a wonderful mixture of mashed potatoes, peas, chopped onions, sweet chutney and coriander. They are then dipped in aromatic mint flavoured water. The stunning flavours incorporated together in this lovely snack explode in your mouth as you experience the assortment of crisp, tangy and spicy tastes.

If you walk into any traditional Indian restaurant at lunch time you are bound to witness plates of crispy potato bhajis, also referred to as Maru na Bhajia.

The sliced potatoes are seasoned with a pungent mixture of spices which include turmeric, carom seeds, chilli powder and ginger, which are then fried in sizzling hot oil. Similar to English fried potatoes, but these particular potatoes pack “oomphs” of delicious aromatic flavours, guaranteed to entice your taste buds. The ultimate finish to any Indian supper is a steaming hot mug of masala tea. Cinnamon, cardamom, fennel and ginger all play a part in adding a special twist to this wonderfully aromatically spiced indulgence. Inhaling and consuming this superb array of brewed spices is guaranteed to help relax and unwind even the tensest of people. The Indian culture is renowned for its original take on mixes of both spices and flavours. It’s these snacks and dishes that entice millions of Indians and non-Indians to enjoy the wonders of this spectacular cuisine.

Text by Lorna McColl, Photography by Betoul Mahdey, Helena Mueller



Sonal Patel enjoys her pani puri in one of the leading Indian restaurants, Sakoni, Alperton.


Top left: Vegetable curry with

Top right: Samosa Chaat

Bottom left: Pani Puri is a

Bottom right: Crispy fried

rice is a well-known com-

is a saucy appetiser/snack

popular snack served in the

potato Bhajias is an Indian

mon Indian dish in London.

that has a rich minty yogurt

streets of India. This sa-

authentic dish preferably

This dish is also served with

topping. The dish contains

voury dish is dipped in minty

served with a spicy sauce.

chapatti bread and riata

about four vegetable samo-

flavoured water with a rich

Bhajias are similar to potato

sauce which is an Indian

sas soaked in the strong

mixture of mixture of mashed

wedges seasoned with a

yogurt mix.

flavours of the yogurt sauce.

potatoes, peas, chopped

pungent mixture of spices.

onions, sweet chutney and coriander.


WHEN IN INDIA Always wanted to go to India? Or ever wondered what it’s like over there? One of our contributors talks about his experience in India, when he travelled there with his company to train as a graduate developer.

Text and Photos by Louis Sayers 30



traight out of uni I had just arrived in Europe from New Zealand. I was in search for work. With -250 in my bank and another 250 I could borrow I needed some money fast.

empty as it was just after monsoon season).

Our training at ThoughtWorks was like being back at uni. There were some differences though, for example we got fed breakfast and lunch at work. I searched for a job, thinking that I was so desperFor breakfast I’d have an omelette - which always ate I’d take anything I could get. I then found an had chilli powder in it, or chapati which looked like advertisement on linkedin. It was for a software a pancake, but was meant to be a savoury dish. consultancy role - they were looking for junior deLunchtime had a variety of dishes, but nothing like velopers at a company named ThoughtWorks, and the curries that you would get at Brick they said that they send all of their new ‘graduate Lane - to me the dishes didn’t taste as developers’ to India for 6 weeks of training. This got good. There was one dessert which was me hooked, I wanted the job so bad that I trained kind of like rice pudding which tasted myself up for the day long interview and managed quite good, and one day of the week to get the job. they’d have some chicken in one of the dishes which ended up going pretty fast! Next thing I knew I was on a plane to India. A 10 hour flight is quite long, but not so long as the 24 hour flight time it took to get to Europe from New Zealand! I didn’t sleep a drop. I really enjoy watching movies, and on a 10 hour flight, there’s not much more for you to do. When me and my other graduate colleague stepped out of the baggage area, we were greeted by an Indian chap who took us to a van to put our belongings in. We headed for the ‘Diamond District’ in Bangalore, or Bengaluru as they call it natively. The car ride was exhilarating. We zoomed past motorbikes with women dressed in their saris sitting on the back. We passed a tire which lay in the middle of the road, and then a cow which walked down the highway. The driver honked as he went past others - I had never seen a horn being used so much. Being driven in a car was like being on a theme park ride. We arrived at the Diamond District. Our apartment blocks were 9 stories high, and we were directed to our serviced apartments to unpack our belongings. Our bedrooms had shiny stone tile floors, and air conditioners in each of the three bedrooms of the apartment - something which I got used to using every night. The rest of the apartment was spacious and we had a good view of the swimming pool below (although it turns out that it was 32

I guess food is one of the things about India which is so different. There are smorgasbord places that you can get all you can eat for the equivalent of 10 pounds or so. These places literally have everything that you’d want to eat - ranging from pizza, fish, pasta, curries to pancakes, fruit salads and cakes. Of course we did venture out and try traditional indian food as well - such as pani puri - which are round crispy deepfried shells which you put a hole in and fill with various liquid fillings, chapati - the pancake like things which can have savoury chickpea fillings, or sweet and salty Lassi’s - a yoghurt drink. The food in India is something I could talk lots


about - as we did eat out a lot (seeming it was so cheap) and it can be quite an experience. If you are wondering, yes I did get physically sick from it - can you believe on the first friggin day! and my stomach at other times did make strange sounds... Western food wasn’t too hard to find, although it was more expensive than what you’d pay for it over here. Outside of working hours we were free to roam about and explore where we could. Unfortunately I didn’t have all that much money, so I didn’t get to travel to Goa, or see the Taj Mahal like the others did. I did however go to Hampi, Mysore, and we also took a trip out to the countryside and camped out next to a river. Hampi was pretty amazing. Back in the day there was apparently Royal Indian blood living in the area. They built a bathing house for the queen to bathe in, and all sorts of stone constructions including a musical temple where there were small pillars which were constructed to make different notes when you tap on them. Tourists used to be able to go and tap on the pillars themselves, but it was soon banned and we had to pay one of the guards a couple hundred rupees (~£6) to hear what the pillars sounded like. That’s one thing that you quickly learn about India. It’s a bit corrupt... Basically if you get into trouble, or want something then you can pay for it. I found this out again when I took a photo in a palace (where you weren’t allowed to take photos) and got caught out by a guard. I ended up paying a few hundred rupees (~£5) to get the guard off my back. The Hampi trip also included visiting the ‘Monkey temple’. This is where all the monkeys love to hang out, waiting for people to give them bananas. I didn’t have any bananas but managed to trick a couple of monkeys into thinking that I had one by holding a banana skin. They quickly learnt though, and no other monkeys tried after the first two.



That’s one thing that you quickly learn about India. It’s a bit corrupt.

Back in the city we had other kinds of adventures. Travel was always done on Rickshaws - which are effectively motorbikes with a cart built around them. Drivers would often try to overcharge us by saying a number up front which was 3x what we should have paid. We constantly insisted on them using their meters (which they’re supposed to use), and would tip them if they did to encourage that behaviour. Beggars do approach you in the street. For some reason they always came to me. “Please sir, baby sir, money sir”... it was as if they had all been to beggar school - they all said the same thing. Having watched slumdog millionaire, I knew that giving money to them wasn’t the right thing to do. There are initiatives in India to help the poor however. We went to one of these schools “Sukrupa”, and got a look at what people were doing to help.Sukrupa was a woman who set up a school for kids that otherwise would not have been given a proper education. They told us of the challenges they had - how the government had public schools but that teachers were absent most of the time, and that parents didn’t even know how to do a signature, and at first would use their thumbprint when they came to parent/teacher meetings. One of the great things we got to experience at Sukrupa was breakfast time. We were crammed into a room with 80 or so kids, and helped with handing out breakfast portions of sweet rice and chapati. It was great to see how these kids were keen to get to school, and that they had equipment - even a few computers - although the kids 36

did have to sit on the ground for their lessons. We gave them some money (after all they did give us breakfast!), and left with an unforgettable experience of being with all those happy kids. Six weeks in India passed so quickly, and it’s easy to forget that it even happened now. The trip was a great one and all I really remember was the fun times that we had. India is a great country - it’s a bit dirty with all the rubbish lying about, but the countryside is green and beautiful, and I feel like I only touched the surface of what India has to offer. It’s something I’ll treasure forever, and I look forward to going back and having more experiences some day.



PA L M I S T RY Text and Photography by Gianluca Marino

Palm reading is a subject that invokes a sense of mystic thrill, curiosity and even fear within all. Highly prevalent throughout the world, palmistry has roots that can be traced to its most ancient country, India. Palm reading comes in different types and among them Indian palmistry is known to be the oldest with a record of practice spanning nearly 3000 years. So what is Indian Palmistry? The science of reading, deciphering meanings for analysing potential abilities, inherent nature and predicting the future is known as Palmistry. Indian Palmistry, otherwise known as Samudrika, is a type that has been practiced in India for thousands of years to help individuals explore their hidden potential and guide them towards their goals. Palm reading or palmistry is considered to be the science of understanding the past, present and future of a person by analyzing the cushions and lines of their palm. Every hand is unique and reflects the nature of a person. The mounts of the palm show the strengths and weaknesses whereas the marks and lines in their palm usually describe a vivid picture or events that have taken place in their lives. However, the readings palm-readers get may change from time to time depending on planetary alignment and their energies. With a careful examination of all these factors and years of astrological studies, palm-readers can help satisfy that lifelong urge you’ve always had to know what the future holds for you. 39

NOT FAR FROM MUMBAI The aroma of Indian spices along with the beat of Bombay welcomes visitors into “Little India�, Southall. A town that holds the flavours of the Indian culture in London. Even though, Southall accommodates a patchwork of Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Afghans the most populated community are Indiwjabi Sikhs were hired to work for an English businessman.

Text by Betoul Mahdey, Photos by Jemma Newman, Gianluca Marino, and Helena Mueller, Rani Sanghera (opposite page, creativecommons) 40



he Broadway is the main street in Southall as well as one of the most densely populated spots in the country.

Indian shops stretch along the street in the distance as women walk in colourful bright saris with men in turbans.

For outsiders, it’s another world that awaits its visitors to explore and soak up the scenes of India. With signs welcoming people in English and Punjabi, Southall carries a journey to discover from restaurants, tailors and fabric shops, spice and food markets, Indian pubs, corn kiosks to bazaar-style shopping malls.

Southall offers many a home. “It’s a home away from home” Kiran Shah, 24, proudly says. Kiran is a British born Indian who grew up working in a family instrumental shop in Southall. For insiders, Southall is where family and home come together.

Part of the Southall experience is visiting the religious monuments. There are Sikh and Hindu temples as well as several mosques and churches. People of many faiths live, work and pray in close quarters.



1. Banwait Brothers & Co - Fashion plays a big role in the Indian community. Banwait Brothers & Co sell a wide range of colourful pure silk saris and beautiful hand embroidered fabric including a bridal section on the first floor (020-8574-2635, 75-77 The Broadway). “It feels the closest to home, I’m from the Punjabi community in Southall,” Jarnail Banwait, 52, says. Bollywood Designer Shoe store sells Mojaris (men) and Juttis (woman) Indian sandals (020-8843-2211, 84 The Broadway). 2. Nirala Sweets - Golden rings made from flour, dipped into simmering caldron of oil and covered in dripping sugary syrup is one of the main reasons that attracts people to Southall. Jalebi is an Indian sweet that is eaten in cultural or religious occasions. Nirala Sweets on The Broadway offers a variety of Asian sweets including jalebi.






3. Bollywood Designer Shoe Store - Mojaris (for men) and Juttis (for women) are originally Panjabi. The traditional Indian sandals are uniquely crafted and are usually made from leather. They come in various colours with embroidered embellishments. Bollywood Designer Shoe Store are located on 84 The Broadway, (020-8843-2211). 4. JAS Musicals Limited - Music is a very important aspect in the Indian culture. “Music and spirituality work together, Raga is a type of Indian music that is based on different times of the day or seasons,” Kiran explains. JAS Musicals Limited is an Indian instrumental store based on The Broadway (020-85742686, 124 The Broadway). 5. Corn Kiosks - A man sells steamed “corn in a cup” on The Broadway, Southall. The “Corn in a cup” vendors have taken London by storm and are now available on most busy high streets including Southall.






Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham - Sometimes happiness, sometimes sadness

When a young boy Rahul (Shahrukh Khan) finds out he is in adopted, it turns his care-free life upside down. He finds himself feeling in-debt to his parents, showing endless amounts of gratitude and ultimate loyalty to his family. In time, Rahul falls in love with an animated young outcast named Anjali Sharma (Kajol Devgn), a girl belonging to a lower social standing than him and his family. This causes Rahul’s father to become enraged. Rahul’s father Yashvardhan “Yash” Raichand (Amitabh Bachchan) desires his son to marry Naina Kapoor (Rani Mukerji) yet he still marries Anjali against his father’s wishes. Yash soon after disowns his son, never wanting to speak or hear from him ever again. A distressed Rahul feels the best thing to do is to move away to London with his new wife and her young sister, Pooja (Kareena Kapoor.) Back in India, Rahuls brother Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) is finding it hard coping with the divided family and sets out to re-unite his brother and his old family back together again. However, trouble is set 48

ahead, when an unfortunate incident puts additional pressure on this family’s complex situation and we stride alongside Rohan and witness his journey, to try to reunite the family, in order to make them what they once were. The story is gripping, and at times a real tear jerker. But overall, we witness magical moments between the cast, and their talent in the fields of acting and choreographed dancing, which all shine through.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai - Something Happens

An emotional and poignant start commences this 1998 film, directed by Karan Johar. We are introduced to Rahul (Shahrukh Khan) and his wife Tina (Rani Mukherjee) who has become seriously ill as a result from labour and will soon die. In the few hours Tina has left to live, she writes eight letters to her newly born daughter, Anjali. One to be given at each of her first eight birthdays. This emotive tone is flipped over, as we move eight years into the future, to witness a happy and cheerful daughter and her relationship with Rahul, her loving and caring father. We see Anjali (Sana Saeed) open her last letter from her mother on her eighth birthday where we learn that her mother is encouraging her to try to set her father up with his old best friend from college, Anjali. We go back in time, and watch a young Rahul and Anjali at College, and witness how their close

friendship grew. We see the sparks of romantic feelings between them both. Although these feelings lie dormant from each other, until a new girl, Tina joins there group. Rahul falls for Tina, so Anjali strays away from her tom boy self, and becomes more like Tina, in an attempt to impress Rahul, as she realises her true feelings for him. We start to empathise more with Anjali, until she disappears as a consequence of finding out that her old best friend has fallen in love with Tina. Believing there is nothing she can do to stay close with her old best friend; she ends up leaving college, with her terminated love story. The film is juxtaposed with a beautiful mix of Bollywood dancing, enticing music, and acting. The Indian community regard family as one of the most important things in life. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is a prime example of how significant family is in the Indian culture. 49

INDIAN WEDDINGS Beautiful colours, unique traditions and stunning decorations are only part of what makes an Indian wedding. The most popular type of wedding among Indians is a Hindu celebration.

Text by Lorna McColl, Photography by Sonal Patel





Left side: Sacrificing the sacred fire is part of the Indian traditions done by the bride and groom. Both hands of the bride are placed into the grooms where her brother then places rice into both of her hands. Both, bride and groom then offer the rice to the sacred fire.

Right side: Hindu wedding ceremonies involve many interesting rituals that have to be performed by the bride and groom. Artistic henna, also known as Mehendi patterns decorate the bride’s hands and feet as part of the Indian traditions.


Weddings among Hindus mark the start of the second and the most important stage of life called the ‘Grihistha Ashrama’ which involves setting up a new family unit. At a Hindu wedding ceremony there are different rights the couples must go through before they can be officially married. Some stages include formally introducing the families, the presenting of gifts, drinking special drinks, the lighting of a fire, exchanging vowels and climbing over rocks. All stages symbolise a special tradition and are done to prove the love between the bride and groom. A very important aspect of an Indian wedding is the

clothing. Rich colours are worn, and commonly the bride will wear a red, white and gold sari, adorned with gold jewellery and a floral garland. These colours represent purity and fertility. The groom usually dresses in a white shirt with gold embellishments and either trousers or a sarong. The groom may wear a turban known as a Safa and/or a necklace called a Kantha. The Indian wedding is full of exiting rituals, magnificent food, and stunning dancing which keep family and friends entertained for over several days, and ends with the elders and the priest blessing the couple for a long and prosperous married life.


Text and photos by Helen Hasse


Varansi is unlike any other city along the Ganges river in India. It is the spiritual centre of Hinduism. It is a holy place that every Hindu is meant to visit once in a lifetime. It is a place where blessings are bestowed. And it is a place where the bodies of deceased Hindus are burned. Here is story about the dead and the living sharing one city.


I went to Varanasi after I had just turned 18 and finished school. With no clearer idea than doing something creative in my future, living in an artist residency at the Kriti Gallery seemed like a good idea. And it was!

and friends carry bodies wrapped in colourful cloths to the Ghats, the famous riverbank; sometimes they will do a pilgrimage to Banares from thousands of miles away. Furthermore I learned that it is important that only men are present at the burning site. The family will have to pay for the wood used in the Varansi, known as Banares to Indians, is the spir- burning process. The more money is paid, the more itual centre of Hinduism. Located on the Ganges thoroughly the body will be burned down to ashes. River, it is a holy place that every ‘good Hindu’ is These will then be cast into the Ganges: a river in meant to visit once in a lifetime. Bathing in the Gan- which people bathe daily. ges is believed to bestow blessings on her or him. Banares is unlike any other city along the Ganges. A local teenage boy told me that around 300 to Here, the bodies of deceased Hindus are burned in 400 bodies are burned in Banares’ three burning order for reincarnation to take place. Their families sites everyday. The smell of burnt flesh struck me 58

as soon as I got off the plane – a smell I had never experienced before and so far haven’t encountered anywhere else in the world. It makes you feel nauseous: the air is thick and bloody. Combined with the smog, it seems tempting to get back onto the plane straight away. I got used to it after two days. Right until Eid Al-Adha took place, where the large Muslim community sacrificed hundreds of sheep on the streets. The smell of burnt human flesh mixed with that of animal blood made me nauseous all over again.

row and crowded alleys. Something touched me. This surprised me because body contact is rare in Indian culture, especially since as a white person I was regarded as being of a high caste. When I looked for what it was, I discovered the hand of a dead woman hanging from a stretcher and being carried to the burning site. I turned around and went home: no more Ghats for me that day.

Now, I realize that I might get across as telling a horror story about a horrible place. In fact, Banares is beautiful. No, you cannot see the sky because of On my first visit to the Ghats and the burning sites pollution and neither is the evil bull living in the alley just after my arrival, I made my way through the nar- at the east side of the Ghats a pleasant encounter. 59

Banares is a place where you think about things in a different way. You can’t help but think about death, because that is the first thing you smell in the morning and corpses happen to pass by your window everyday. I met a Western woman in Banares, whose mother had just died from cancer. Filled with grief, she came to Banares and stopped grieving. She said it was the best thing that ever happened to her.

has one small bedroom, where the two daughters, her husband and Shinta sleep all together in one bed. In a second tiny room, she has a kitchen, something almost luxurious. She shares the toilet in the yard with 50 other neighbours. Yet, Shinta is relatively fortunate. She has a well-paid job and is in contact with foreigners daily, who give her gifts or extra money at the end of each stay.

Shinta, the cook at the residency, took me home one afternoon to meet her daughters who were my age. Crammed in three different Rickshaws, it took us about 45 minutes to the house. Her house

I met both daughters and her husband. He is unemployed and sees no reason to change that. He said it is fine if she works as a cook six days a week. He sees no need for him to work as well.


Her daughters showed me around university. It was a surprisingly large institution, one in which it is recommendable to take a Rickshaw to get from one building to the other. Shinta had told me, in the language mixed of signs and English that we had developed, that her daughters both studied English language. I knew they tried; yet we weren’t able to exchange one simple sentence. Still, I liked them!

with one million inhabitants and yet it isn’t as vastly travelled compared to the rest of India, seemingly one of the must-do countries on every traveller’s list. I came there to find something and I found photography along the way. And I can proudly say that I have travelled somewhere far by myself. I think there couldn’t have been a better place than Banares for this! One day I’ll go back.

Banares is a place which not many foreigners visit. It even occurred one day that in the ‘weaver’ quarter, a child started crying at the sight of me. Navneet, my local friend, told me it had never seen a white person before. This is Banares’ charm: it is a big city 61


In India, spirituality and religion are two important aspects of everyone’s daily life. This history of India introduced many religions including Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism. The dominant religion in India is Hinduism. All religions preach peace, justice and self-control.

Middle left: In the Mandir temple of Southall,

Bottom left: It is believed in the Hindu religion

statues of Rama, the seventh avatar of the

that once the worshipers ring the bell of the

god of peace and truth Vishnu, and his wife

temple, evil spirits leave. Additionally, it brings

Sita stand on a stage for Hindus to worship.

the attention of the gods to the worshippers as they pay tribute.


Text by Lorna McColl and Gianluca Marino, Photography by Betoul Mahdey and Helena Mueller

India is the ‘birth-place’ of many different religions. Most of the Indian culture regards themself as Hindus.  Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It is seen as a way of life, based on understanding natural and everlasting principles. Hindus usually worship gods as an individual act, as one must make a personal offering to the deity, such as sweets, fruit, flowers or incense. Native to the Indian subcontinent is Buddhism. It is a tradition that concentrates on personal spiritual development. Buddhists strive for a deep understanding of the true nature of life and do not worship gods or deities. Buddhists strive to reach ‘Nirvana,’ by following the teachings of Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who went on a quest for Enlightenment around the sixth century BC. Another ancient religion from India is Jainism. This religion teaches its followers to live a life of self-control and non-violence, in order to obtain liberation and bliss. Jains believe that everyone from plants to animals have a living soul; each soul is of an equal value and should be treated with respect and compassion. During the 15th Century Sikhism was founded. Most Sikhs live in the Punjab province of India. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, they believe in only one god. Sikhism stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than simply carrying out rituals, to achieve a better way of life for them and for others.

In London, Temples like the Mandir in Southall and the Shri Sanatan Hindu Mandir in Alperton are not only frequented by the Hindu community but by the general public. Both temples are open to those of other faiths and are seen more as landmarks by their local councils. Since opening in 2010 the Shri Sanatan Temple has grown to become one of the most popular north London attractions with thousands of tourists visiting each month.

Left page, big photo: The statue of Sai Baba of Shirdi in Alperton temple is placed in the middle of the gods for worshippers to bless and pay tribute. Sai Baba of Shirdi is a spiritual man with godly powers.


home made chickpea curry

a European version of curry

We want to keep this recipe open and easy to make adjustments to, so you can adapt it until you’re happy. Change ingredients, spices or even the whole dish. Add italian herbs instead of curry if you want, take away the pancakes and have naan bread or rice with it instead, or sprinkle some cheese on top if you like. Whatever takes your fancy, anything is possible. Here’s our version:

For the chickpea curry:

For the pancakes:

chickpeas (1 can/pack) chopped tomatoes (canned) 2 tbsp Sour Cream curry, garam masala, oregano, coriander salt chopped onion olive Oil

flour 2 eggs milk water pinch of salt


One. Heat up some olive oil in a big frying pan, add the chopped onion and fry for a bit until the onion is getting slightly brown. Two. Add the tomatoes and the chickpeas and bring to the boil. Add some salt and spices - curry, and garam masala for an Indian taste. Add some oregano for a more Italian/Western/mild taste. Keep tasting the curry until it’s your preferred flavour. Three. Simmer the curry until most water is evaporated and add the sour cream. Keep mixing and simmering until the mixture is thick and creamy. Four. For the pancakes sieve the flour, and mix with eggs, milk, water and salt using a whisk. Make sure you mix it well so that no lumps form. The mixture should feel quite liquid and runny in order for the pancakes to turn out very thin, like crepes. Five. Heat up some oil or butter in a frying pan and pour some of the mixture into the pan. Slightly tilt the frying pan for the mixture to spread, or use a spatula to spread out the mixture very thinly. Give it a bit of time, until slightly brown, then flip the pancake, and fry on the other side.

Six. To keep the pancakes warm you can heat up the oven a bit, and put the pancakes in on a plate. Be safe when taking out the plate - it will be hot, so don’t burn yourself.

Put some of the curry onto a pancake, wrap it up, and enjoy!

Photography by Helena Mueller 65

COLOURFUL SILKS, GLISTENING CRYSTALS, SPECTACULAR PATTERNS Text by Betoul Mahdey and Lorna McColl, Photography by Helena Mueller, Jemma Newman and Betoul Mahdey




ich coloured silks, and eye catching makeup are just a couple of things that play a part in Indian beauty. Different festivals, celebrations and dances call for different make up, colours and materials to be worn. Indians are not shy in sporting the most striking, yet divine colours. The culture is known for its truly unique dress style and stunning appearance.

The types of clothing for women vary depending on the local cultures of the different regions and climates in India. In the north and east, women dress in saris. A sari is a colourful, occasionally embroidered, long sheet of fabric that is wrapped around the body with a matching blouse underneath. One of India’s fashion capitals is Bombay. Silk saris with embellishments are usually worn in special occasions such as weddings.



The salwar kameez, also known as the trouser suit or Punjabi suit, is the traditional clothing for Punjab and Kashmir women. It is the common traditional clothing worn in the North West parts of India. The salwar, the loose trousers which is narrow and gathered at the ankles, is worn with a tunic top which is the kameez. The salwar kameez is often worn with a veil called dupatta that covers the head and drapes off the shoulders.


A Sherwani is Indian traditional clothing for men. The Sherwani consists of a long coat, below the knees in length and fastened with buttons. It has a high up collar and is worn with trousers called Churidars. The Churidars are loose at the hips and thighs and get narrower around the ankles. In wedding ceremonies, the groom usually wears a Sherwani. It sometimes has a scarf and usually comes in cream, gold or a light ivory colour. It also may be embroidered with gold or silver.




ince ancient times, Indians have used makeup to define and enhance features. It has become a crucial part of the Indian culture and daily life. One of the oldest forms of Indian makeup is kohl. Kohl is an eyeliner that is generously applied to both lower and upper eyelids to define the eyes. South Indian Bharatnatayam dances draw attention to their facial expressions whilst dancing. By using Kohl, it is believed to entice the audience with its striking effect. Another form of makeup, exclusive to the Indian culture is the Bindi. Traditionally, married Indian women would wear a red dot (a bindi) in the middle of the eyebrows, with a vermilion (a red line drawn on the parting of the hair), and this would mean she was married. It was believed that by wearing a bindi you are representing the third eye which will protect you from demons and bad luck. These days females will frequently wear them stuck on as fashion accessories in vivid colours accompanied with sparkling diamantes, whether they are married or not.

Asiana and Asiana Wedding magazine are, both internationally and in the UK, the biggest selling fashion and bridal magazine targeted at the Asian community. Each season the magazines are released, promoting a beautiful array of traditional Asian dresses and stunning jewellery, as well as inspirational bridal fashion. The latest celebrity gossip, health, beauty and career advice are also given. Asiana targets the modern woman, who still wants to incorporate aspects of traditional Asian living alongside a fresh and contemporary lifestyle.





Profile for Helena Mueller

Collaborative Project / Indian Project  

A magazine to promote integration and raise awareness for other cultures (especially within London). Although London is a multicultural city...

Collaborative Project / Indian Project  

A magazine to promote integration and raise awareness for other cultures (especially within London). Although London is a multicultural city...