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Edinburgh Inter Faith Association

A Registered Charity in Scotland SCO 17622

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The Challenge of Acclimatising in the Hindu Community - Nila

 

I was born and brought up in East Africa, in Tanzania, in Arusha; my dad was there as a university lecturer. [In the 1960’s and 70’s many Asians were expelled from East African countries which sought to ‘re-Africanise’ after gaining independence from British Colonial rule] During that time my dad decided to leave Africa and settle back in India. People remember the Ugandan coup, because it was very bad; lots of communities were destroyed. My parents used to cry, [when they told us the story] because they made their world over there, they made their life over there. And suddenly overnight it was lost. I still remember, as a little girl, when we left Tanzania, we gave our house key to our ‘boy’. The boy means servant in the house. And my dad said: ‘This is your house now.’ We didn't take anything [it was] heartbreaking.

 

I remember the history tales. When the Ugandan coup happened, hundreds of refugees came and lived in a camp down South, [they had a] British passport because it was a British colony. They announced that if families wanted to go to Scotland they’d get a council house, a fully-furnished house. So during that time lots of [Asian] families [from Africa] decided to come to Scotland and there are still many families here in Scotland that left Uganda in the early ‘70s.

 

So we went back to India, settled down in India. In 1975, I came to this country as a young bride… I was only 17 and a half. [it felt] Strange, you know. You don’t know much about the culture, the language, the whole - it’s a challenge! In 1975 I came here, there weren’t many Asian shops, you couldn’t get many Asian spices … it was a struggle. Imagine, all your life you’re living in an environment where it’s just your culture, your tradition, your food, your language, your religion, and suddenly you have to leave all that behind. And come to somewhere, where none of them are there. And because our marriages are arranged marriages, you don’t know much about your husband, about the family either. As a young bride, it’s a very tough time.

 

When your festivals come, you receive letters from back home, and pictures from back home: ‘Oh - we did this on the Diwali day, we did this on Navaratri day’. And because in Indian culture we have so many festivals - so during that time you feel very lonely and isolated because you miss your family and community. So we start building up on that, celebrating festivals and [having] religious activities at somebody’s house… and the community just grew and grew and grew.