This next post is by Shikha. Shikha was born in Delhi, India and moved to England at the age of 2. This means, like many, she has spent her whole life juggling two cultures and today, she shares what this is like with us!
“Being part of the first generation of my family that hasn’t been brought up in India meant that there was a massive culture difference between the generations, which has definitely come with its challenges.
Trying to be a feminist in a culture that strongly promotes traditional values is probably the biggest challenge and often proves to be very frustrating. Being constantly bombarded with the idea that the responsibility of a man is far different from that of a woman, and breaking free of this is strongly discouraged and often looked down on instead of admired. I believe that men and women should be completely equal and neither shouldn’t be treated with more importance, but in Indian culture men are respected a lot more than women which is something I have always had a lot of difficulty accepting.
Being a part of two cultures does cause a lot of conflict. I’m definitely much closer to western culture than I am with Indian culture as I have spent the majority of my life here. This means that there is always a difference of opinion on almost everything, from acceptable clothing to relationships. I have had to hide my relationships from my extended family as it would have been disapproved of instead of accepted, which has always been hard as it’s such a large part of life.
However, I do really appreciate the importance put on education in Indian culture. This has drastically changed from my parents’ generation where women were often discouraged from getting a higher education and is very different to my grandparents’ generation where women having an education was unheard of. My grandma’s were married before they were 17 and had started a family not long after. Having each had 6 children they spent their entire lives raising and looking after a family, so I’m really glad that they encouraged their daughters to get an education which has been reciprocated for my generation.
Another major advantage of being a part of two cultures is that it taught me open mindedness. Constantly being taught different opinions and approaches to situations taught me that there are so many different perspectives on all aspects of life. A lot of emphasis is also put on the importance of family, which means that have a very close knit, albeit large family that are always willing to help and support you. It also means that I get to have a large variety of incredible foods, I’ve learnt two languages and I get to celebrate many different holidays and festivals which are always great fun.
Regardless of any setbacks I’m really glad that I’ve grown up with two cultures as it has taught me so much and has given me all the best parts of two incredible cultures.”