- The South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society bagged the award for arts and culture by the Trustpower Timaru District Community Awards
- Very few Indians live in Timaru but they show cooperation and solidarity when it comes to celebrating Indian festivals
- Battu and Hari family are an example of the Indians keeping their culture alive in a foreign land
New Zealand, August 23, 2017: In the recent 2017 Trustpower Timaru District Community Awards for New Zealand, South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society bagged the winner’s prize in the arts and culture category. The award recognizes the efforts put in by the Cultural Society to spread its cultural celebrations with the majority of the people.
Post the victory, Timaru Herald’s reporter Rachael Comer visited two humble and welcoming Timaru Indian families. Her purpose was to investigate how miles away from the homeland to a strange land, the families have successfully kept their cultural identity alive.
The first door that the reporter knocked was the Battu Family. In September 2011, Akhil Battu along with wife Ravinder Battu moved to the Timaru city with their three-month-old daughter. Hailing from Punjab, the Battus resided in Auckland. But after four months, Primeport Timaru offered Akhil a job.
Akhil, who is a marine engineer, has traveled to many parts of the world. For a long time, he had stayed away from home. But now that he has his own family, he chose New Zealand to start a settled life.
The Battus have settled well with their two daughters Mannat and Mehar, who are six and two years old respectively. While the Kiwi lifestyle has been great for the Battu family, the Indian couple has not forgotten their culture.
Their decor of their house is an Indian and New Zealand mix. Many of the items, including the curtains, are Indian.
The couple also dines on Indian cuisine throughout the week. The daughters carry Indian cuisine for school lunch. However, it is not enforced on the children, it is them who love the Indian food. Mannat even shared how her friends at school love her lunch.
The couple also ensures to speak their native language and have explained to the children about the importance of knowing multiple languages. Punjabi is the most preferred language of use at home.
The couple prefers to have a spiritual belief rather than a religious belief. The whole family does meditation on a daily basis. The parents, as well as the kids, watch Indian TV channels. They are also vegetarian.
Mr. Battu admitted that his pay grade in India was better than his job in New Zealand, but he wanted a higher standard of living for his family.
The couple agrees that the few Indians who live in Timaru are extremely cooperative.
Next was the Hari family who had been living for quite some years now in the Timaru City. In 2003, Kashyap Hari hailing from Gujarat, came to Timaru when there very few Indians. Hari worked as a chartered accountant in the same firm as his brother.
He did go back to India in 2008 and went to a function with his parents where young girls and boys could meet. That is where he met his wife, Namrata. The couple got married and came to Timaru.
Namrata expressed her amazement as she recalls how she had never been out of India. She felt different initially but gradually settled.
The couple now live in Timaru with their two children. The Hindu family is strictly religious. Kashyap Hari imported a copper temple from India where the family prays every early morning. The family usually lights a candle while praying.
The family’s favorite food includes dahi, chapati, and rice. The family also celebrates a number of Hindu festivals to keep their culture alive.
The South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society:
Registered in 2012, the Cultural Society helps to promote Indian cultural celebrations along with all the diverse communities. Many Indian festivals such as Holi, Rakhi, Navratri, Diwali etc. are hosted by the Society for all of the New Zealand to enjoy. On the Diwali celebrations, more than 500 visitors come to the event.
Indian hospitality, including singing, dancing and Indian food is exclusive to these events. It is a sincere effort to promote the Hindu culture.
– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter @Saksham2394