Indian Culture in SA

Proud to be South African Indian


WHEN Indians arrived in South Africa 150 years ago they came with a vision, and with determination and strength they endured what they had to with unfailing perseverance. Today, Indian culture has become firmly woven into the South African tapestry.

In celebrating the anniversary of the indentured labourers’ arrival, I have compiled a list of 150 things that we love about South African­ Indian culture, extracted from social network sites, blogs and random conversations. Because we all share a part of it; whether it’s the food or the fashion, we love the colour it adds to our Rainbow Nation.

This is what we love:
–  The way they talk for an hour at the front door when leaving someone’s house.

–  How resouceful they are: they try to reuse everything from ice-cream containers to giftwrap.

–   Chana Magaj.

–  Masala Pineapples.

–  That they are great bargainers and try to get their kids into places for half the price by saying they are under 12, even though they are really 15.

–  How they always greet older people as “uncle” or “aunty”, even if they are not related, and that it makes them cringe to use the person’s name.

–  Breyani.

– The annual fireworks debate that gets the whole world into a panic.

–  How every family has a doctor, a lawyer and an accountant.

– The ancient homeopathic remedies that are passed down from generation to generation. For example, the remedy for a common cold is ginger milk or raso (tomato soup).

–  Their hospitality: they will always offer you tea and something to eat when you visit…

– . …and will also decline anything that is offered to them.

–  No matter how poor or disadvantaged they are, they will offer to help in every way that they can.

–  Everything is colourful: sweetmeats, clothes, jewellery and personalities.

–  How they put masala on everything: fruit, cornflakes, popcorn, and their doorsteps.

–  How they can spend hours fishing with their kids.

–  How Indian women stay away from the sun to prevent older aunties from picking on “how black they have gone”.

–  Their strong sense of community and family.

–  Bollywood!

–  Their strong support during the cricket.

–  How mothers will always pack food for their children, even when they are just going to the beach.

–  They are hardworking and have the ability to overcome any obstacle, be it extreme poverty, tyrannical government or the neighbourhood gossip. (ML Sultan Campus was built by Hajee Malukmahomed Lappa Sultan (ML Sultan) who had a dream to educate Indians. )

–  How every car has a tissue box at the back.

–  How you can tell that an Indian guy is travelling towards you even when you can’t see him.

–  How they always ask if you know so-and-so.

–  Their ability to invest and save money for a rainy day.

–  That they wear a watch and will still be late.

–  How a 30-year-old son can still live with his parents.

–  Heendian comedy… The way they love laughing at themselves!
Stand-up comedian Halal Bilal says (on being stopped at the airport for a ‘random check’ by an Indian security guard): “The aunty asked me, ‘Did you pack your bags yourself?’ I said, ‘Aunty, you should know, no indian guy over the age of 25 packs his own bags. My mother had to put in the food and spices for me!’”
– Samoosas.

What We Love

– Facebook user, Gareth Bright says, “I love that they are Indian but South African. I love how much the Indian South Africans love cricket. I love all the good food, and in all honesty our roads would have far more boring-looking cars if it wasn’t for our Indian brothers and sisters … Despite the circumstances many of the families arrived in, I’m glad they stayed to provide us with such good doctors, dentists and businessmen.”

– Indian mothers always scrutinise their family’s dressing before going out, usually saying things like, “Please change that shirt and put something decent on!” or “Brush your hair!”

–  There’s always drama. 

– “Tata lo broom over there please”

–  The way parents ask their children, who live away from home, whether they have eaten.

–  Facebook user Nadira Bhowani says, “No matter how educated and successful we become, we are mostly judged by our values and cooking skills.”

–  How parents believe that being married is as essential as getting a degree and successful job.

– . … and how if you are over 23 and single, you are likely to get bombarded by aunties that you have never met, but who want to set you up with someone.

–  If you are a carnivore, curried tripe the way aunties from West India makes it pack the most protein per bite.

–  How they keep aside a special set of crockery and cutlery for guests.

–  Crushed ginger and garlic, tomatoes, onions and tumeric are used in almost every curry.

–  Conversation with an Indian aunty at a wedding: Caterer: “Would you like a biscuit?”

Indian Aunty: “No … But do they have coconut, because I got cholestrol?” Caterer: “No, no coconut.” Indian Aunty: “Okay, I’ll have one”

–  They eat off banana leaves.

–  Their wedding decor.

–  The boys with their gelled hair and spikes.

–  How they use Amla and coconut oil for their hair.

–  Their affinity for karate lessons for their sons.

–  Dyed black hair to hide the grey.

– How loyal they are.

–  Babies with pierced ears.

–  Furry dashboards and seat covers. 


Source :  By Tharuna Devchand