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"How do you integrate Indian culture into your life?" : second generation Indo-Canadians and the construction… Nodwell, Evelyn 1993

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"HOW DO YOU INTEGRATE INDIAN CULTURE INTO YOUR LIFE?":SECOND GENERATION INDO-CANADIANS AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF "INDIANCULTURE" IN VANCOUVER, CANADAbyEVELYN NODWELLB.A., The University of Calgary, 1969M.A., The University of Alberta, 1971A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Anthropology and Sociology)We accept this thesis as conformingto the requir•standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAOctober 1993© Evelyn Nodwell, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of  4-2 /4"^/c The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate^/ //7 93DE-6 (2/88)i iABSTRACTThis dissertation is a case study of one small seg-ment of what is commonly referred to as the "Indian com-munity" in Vancouver, focusing particularly on its secondgeneration youth members. The study examines members' con-structions of "Indian" identity, "Indian community," and"Indian culture."The first generation members of this population seg-ment are primarily upper to middle class Hindu speakingHindus from north India who migrated to Canada as studentsand independent class immigrants between 1955 and 1975 andare currently practicing professional and business people.They represent a minority of the Indian population in Van-couver by virtue of class, urban background, and language-regional-cultural affiliation. I argue, however, that thiscase study is an important addition to literature aboutSouth Asians in Canada both because this population segmentis absent from existing literature, and because many ofthese individuals play leading roles in Vancouver's Indiancommunity.Canadian literature which pertains to second gener-ation South Asian youth emphasizes issues of assimilation,iiiinter-generational conflict and inter-cultural identity con-fusion. This case study diverges from those issues in orderto provide a fuller appreciation of relatively neglectedaspects of youth lives. It describes how youth act asagents in the construction of their own lives and documentstheir experiences, visions, and initiatives. In doing so,the dissertation documents processes by which culture isconstructed, conceptually and in practice.The research draws on a number of theoretical per-spectives including symbolic interactionism (Blumer 1969),structuration theory (Giddens 1976, 1979, 1984), "consciousmodels" (Ward 1965) and reference group identification(Merton 1964; Shibutani 1955). Data is derived fromparticipant observation, interviews, and group discussions.Youth respondents express that the challenge forthem, a different one from that of their parents whoseformative years were spent in South Asia or East Africa, ishow to integrate Indian culture into their Canadian lives.My study concludes that active phrases used by respondents,such as, "trying to cope," "having the freedom to choose,"and "integrating Indian culture" are more accurate express-ions of the experiences of youth respondents than the pas-sive metaphor commonly applied to South Asian youth of being"caught between two cultures."iv"HOW DO YOU INTEGRATE INDIAN CULTURE INTO YOUR LIFE?":SECOND GENERATION INDO-CANADIANS AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF "INDIANCULTURE" IN VANCOUVER, CANADATable of ContentsAbstract ^  iiTable of Contents ^  ivAcknowledgement  viiiPREFACE ^  ixPART I: THEORETICAL AND METHODOLOGICAL INTRODUCTION1^INTRODUCTION^ 1A THE SUBJECTS ^  7B LITERATURE REVIEWS ^  131 LITERATURE REVIEW: SOUTH ASIAN DIASPORAS ^ 132 LITERATURE REVIEW: SECOND GENERATION SOUTHASIANS ^  19C INSIDER CATEGORIES ^  291 CONSTRUCTING "CULTURE" ^  302 INSIDER SOCIAL CATEGORIES  32D CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK ^  371 TURNING THE THEORETICAL TABLES ^ 372 EVERYDAY ACTIVITY AND PRACTICAL CONSCIOUSNESS^  393 SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISM ^  444 IDENTITY AS A PROBLEM IN THE CONSTRUCTION OFKNOWLEDGE ^  485 HOLI AS A "MODEL OF" AND "FOR" CULTURE ^ 536 GENDER  55E THESIS LIMITATIONS ^  56V2^METHODOLOGY ^  61F IN THE FIELD ^  61G METHODS  711 INTERVIEWS AND PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION ^ 712 GROUP DISCUSSIONS ^  75H INTERVENTION ^  80I ADDENDUM  84PART II: ETHNOGRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS AND OBSERVATIONS3 ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT: IMMIGRATION AND COMMUNITY ^ 87J IMMIGRATION AND SETTLEMENT ^  891 HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF HINDUS IN VANCOUVER ^ 892 PERSONAL IMMIGRATION NARRATIVES ^ 91K COMMUNITIES^ 971 DEFINING "COMMUNITY" ^  972 ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS ^ 1063 "INDIAN COMMUNITY"  1084 DEFINING SELVES AND OTHERS  1135 SECOND GENERATION DEFINITIONS ^ 1226 THE FAMILY FRIENDS CIRCLE  128L THE EXTENDED FAMILY AS CONTINUING IDEAL ^ 139M CHAPTER CONCLUSION ^  1424^YUVA: INTEGRATING "INDIAN CULTURE" 145N YUVA ^  1451 ORIGINS: INDIA CLUB, THE FAMILY FRIENDS CIRCLE 1452 THE FORMATION OF YUVA ^  1483 YUVA'S AGENDA ^  1574 EXPERIENCES OF RACIAL PREJUDICE AND HOSTILITY^  166O SYMBOLIC AND SITUATIONAL ETHNICITY ^ 173viPART III: YUVA'S HOLI CELEBRATION5 DESCRIPTION ^  183P THE SEASONAL CYCLE ^  185Q INSIDER KNOWLEDGE  187R PLANNING ^  191S THE EVENT 193T COMPONENTS^ 1981 A SPEAKER  1982 A TALENT SHOW ^  2033 AMBIENCE  2156 ANALYSIS: CONSTRUCTING "INDIAN CULTURE" ^  221U DEFINITIONS OF THE EVENT  2211 A YUVA EVENT ^  222a) EXPANSION AND DIVERSIFICATION ^ 222b) RELIGION  233c) LEARNING ABOUT CULTURE ^ 238d) EFFICIENCY ^  2432 A CULTURAL EVENT  250a) MAKING THE EVENT "CULTURAL" ^ 250b) LANGUAGE  253c) CONSTRUCTIONS OF GENDER  2573 A FAMILY EVENT ^  2764 A PARTY ^  288^ CHAPTER CONCLUSION  290PART IV: CONCLUSION7 CONCLUSION ^  297W SUMMARY ^  297viiX FINDINGS, DISCUSSION, AND FURTHER QUESTIONS .. 3021 YOUTH: INTEGRATING AND DEFINING INDIAN CULTURE^  3032 CULTURE AS PERFORMANCE ^  3103 INDIAN COMMUNITY: CENTRALIZING TENDENCIES 3124 HINDU HEGEMONY ^  3145 CENTRIPETAL TENDENCIES  318Y SUMMARY OF CONTRIBUTIONS ^  328Z THE FINAL WORD ^  329GLOSSARY ^  331WORKS CITED  337APPENDIX ONE: PROFILE OF RESPONDENTS ^  361APPENDIX TWO: ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS ^ 364vi i iACKNOWLEDGEMENTThis thesis is based on fieldwork in Vancouver in 1990-91.I acknowledge the Shastri Indo-Canadian institute for their awardof a trip to India in 1986 which inspired my interest in thepeople and cultures of South Asia. I also acknowledge thegenerosity of the University of British Columbia for awarding meuniversity fellowships which enabled me to undertake this work.I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all those represen-tatives of organizations, respondents, acquaintances, and friendswho shared with me their thoughts and experiences of being Indianand their knowledge of Indian history, philosophy, religion, andculture. The warmth of their hospitality and enthusiasm of theirinterest in my work encouraged me to continue with it. I wouldlike to individually name all those whom I owe, but refrain fromdoing so, in part because of the impossible task of naming every-one, and in part to preserve the anonymity of respondents. Iwould most particularly owe a debt to members of Yuva whoseenthusiasm inspired me; who kindly consented to become the sub-jects of this research; and who accepted me as their most senior(in age) member, allowed me to attend their meetings, invited meto share in their activities, and became my friends.I am grateful to all my committee members for their continu-ing genuine interest in my project, their support in seeing methrough, their valuable insights and probing questions, theirpatience, and their deep commitment to ethical concerns. I can-not measure the influence which my advisor, Michael Ames, has hadon my thinking, my writing, my humanity, and my own teaching andinteraction with students. As anthropologist, teacher, and humanbeing I will always carry his positive influence with me. I oweTissa Fernando a special gratitude for serving as my advisor fora year while Dr. Ames was on leave. His genuine encouragement,support, and valuable suggestions during this time enabled me toprogress with my work. My gratitude also goes to Elvi Whittakerfor serving on my committee from the beginning and for alwayssuggesting something insightful and helpful, even in the briefestof conversations. I also thank Kenelm Burridge and Neil Guppyfor kindly served on my committee temporarily.My greatest debt is to my family who have shared the burdenof this work, and without whose unfailing love, support, encour-agement, assistance, and cooperation I could not have completedit. I offer my love and gratitude to my husband, Ted, whom Ibelieve to be a saint in his unfailing patience, love, and con-fidence in me, and who has read this work more often than anyoneelse; to my children, Eric and Mark (and then Carolyn), whoalways accepted this work as valuable and important and who gavebalance and joy to my life; and to my parents who loved meunconditionally whether I would successfully complete this pro-ject or not.Finally, I have been fortunate to have friends and col-leagues who shared the experiences of being a student and whounderstood as no one else can, and I thank them.Any shortcomings of this work, I acknowledge as my own.ixPREFACEThis dissertation winds out of several personalthreads. One is a desire to learn about alternative ways ofviewing and dealing with the world. When this brought me tothe University of British Columbia to undertake a graduatedegree in anthropology, I was required to select a culturearea course from those offered. South Asia was my choice.During that first year I entered and won a Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute essay competition. The prize was a tripto India.Having had only a distant interest in India, I hadnever been one of the "hippy" spiritual seekers who lookedto India for enlightenment. But once there, the intensityof social interactions and the sheer exoticism of thecountry in relation to anything I had known enchanted me. Iquickly realized that this place and its people challengedmany North American assumptions in a way which makes oneunderstand oneself and one's own culture, as well as that ofothers, better. This is what the anthropological undertak-ing is about.PREFACE xFrom this fortuitous beginning, I chose to makeSouth Asia my area of specialization. At first I hoped todo fieldwork in India, but at that time in my life it wasnot practical to be away from home for the necessary amountof time. This led to an interest in the Indian community inVancouver.The interest in ethnicity arose out of a secondthread, my own sense of otherness and questions about myidentity as a Canadian. I was born in Austria, and grew upin Canada in an Austrian-German family. I was brought upwith a sense of being different; of not quite belonging; ofexperiencing mysterious, invisible ties to my place of birthand heritage. Consequently, I did not apply for my ownCanadian citizenship until I married.This sense of difference and of "having a culture"(as one of the respondents was to put it)--since my parentsfor many years considered Canada to be culturally poor--isan experience I share with my Indian friends, even though inmany other ways I appear to be an "outsider" (Aguilar 1981;Merton 1971).As the role of anthropologists is currently highlydebated, it may be useful to state here how I define myrole: 1) to report respondents' points of view as best as Ican understand them; 2) to describe processes of culturalPREFACE xireproduction and social construction; 3) to identify charac-teristics of the subjects' world which they may not them-selves recognize and their knowledge about it, or, asAnthony Giddens puts it, their "practical consciousness"(Giddens 1984:xxiii, 376); 4) to examine and interpret con-nections between insiders' conceptualizations andbehaviours; and 5) to relate observations and findings toother epistemological, methodological, theoretical, and eth-nographic knowledge.1PART I: THEORETICAL AND METHODOLOGICAL INTRODUCTIONChapter 1INTRODUCTIONWe live in a world in which groups of peoples every-where are insisting on their cultural differences.'Migrants with origins in India form such collectivities.When Indians migrate, "Indian culture" is not anitem simply carried in a suitcase along with saris, murtis,and household furnishings, to be unpacked, installed, andused as is. Saris and other paraphernalia serve as propsand symbols in an ongoing process of cultural reproductionand construction, sometimes deliberate and recognized, some-times unrecognized and unintended. 2According to Canada's 1992 census, about 75,000residents of the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area (CMA)are "South Asians" (see "Immigration and Settlement" inChapter Three). Of these, approximately sixty-five percent'For elaboration on this phenomenon, see, for exam-ple Glazer and Moynihan (1975), Moore (1989), Porter (1975),Tambiah (1989).2cf. Appadurai (1991) who argues that the concept ofculture must be rethought in the context of what he calls"deterritorialization."1:INTRODUCTION 2are Sikh, twenty percent Hindu, and the remaining fifteenpercent include Ismailis and other Muslims, Jains,Buddhists, Christians, and Parsis. A subset of the SouthAsian category consists of those who consider themselves tobe "Indian" or "Indo-Canadian."This dissertation is a case study of a community offamilies who belong to one small segment of what is commonlyreferred to as the "Indian community." It examines con-structions of "Indian," "Indian community," and "Indian cul-ture," and the locating of self within these categories fromthe points of view of the members of this segment.The first generation members of this population seg-ment are primarily upper to middle class Hindu speakingHindus from north India (primarily Uttar Pradesh and Delhi),who migrated to Canada as students and independent classimmigrants between 1955 and 1975 and are currently practic-ing professional and business people. A number of Gujaratifamilies also belong to the community of families of thiscase study. These families represent a minority of theIndian population in Vancouver by virtue of class, urbanbackground, and language-regional-cultural affiliation. Iargue, however, that a study of this population is an impor-tant addition to literature about South Asians in Canada.First, the population segment represented by the subjects ofthis case study is completely absent from the picture1:INTRODUCTION 3portrayed in existing literature. Secondly, these individu-als are among those who are leaders in Vancouver's Indiancommunity and whose influence, I would suggest, outweighstheir numbers. 3One of many South Asian youth groups in Vancouver,Yuva, 4 is an outgrowth of a number of families who belong tothis segment of the population. This case study centers inparticular around this youth group and its activities.Because of Yuva's agenda to diversify membership and expandsocial networks among Indo-Canadian youth, Yuva members alsoinclude Gujaratis, Sikhs, Bengalis, Punjabis, and a few3Sharma (1982:11) outlines his view of the classstructure: "The present-day East Indian community in BritishColumbia is highly stratified on the basis of social class.At the top of the social and economic ladder are a fewfamilies, usually descendants of early immigrants of thepre-World War I period. This category includes a few ownersof mills, logging camps and large farms, and independenttruckers, e.g., the Doman family. There is also a sig-nificant and established petty-bourgeois class - most haveemigrated since World War II. They are an active and rela-tively prosperous group of men and women who today dominatethe leadership of the community. Within the Sikhs thisclass comprises approximately 20% of the total Sikh popula-tion, within the Fijian East Indians they comprise under 15%of the total population (Sharma 1980)."41 sought the opinion of several youth and adultrespondents about whether Yuva should actually be named inthis dissertation, or whether a pseudonym should be used.Without exception, they felt that Yuva should be named.They not only felt that there would be no disadvantage todoing so, but that the credibility and usefulness of thecase study would be greater.1:INTRODUCTION 4others, and include individuals from various socio-economicstrata. (See Appendix One for a profile of respondents.)Most Canadian literature which pertains to secondgeneration South Asian youth emphasizes issues of assimila-tion, inter-generational conflict and inter-culturalidentity confusion. This case study, in the interest ofproviding a fuller appreciation of neglected aspects ofyouth lives, diverges, therefore, from a sole focus on theseissues.I do not wish to suggest that inter-generationalconflict and identity confusion are not present or extremelysalient in the lives of these youth or that these are notsignificant issues. At least three arguments can, however,be made for examining other aspects of Indo-Canadian youthlives:1. Existing literature emphasizes these aspects of thelives of second generation South Asians to the exclusionof providing a more complex and nuanced view of theirlives and documenting their experiences, visions, andinitiatives.2. Existing literature tends to depict youth as react-ing to restraints imposed on them and does not view themas agents in the construction of their own lives.3. Existing literature on youth in contemporary Indiaalso deals with "the generation gap" and culturalidentity (e.g. Gangrade 1975; Kapur 1982; Sinha andGangrade 1971). This suggests that inter-generationalconflict and inter-cultural confusion ought not to beviewed, as much of the ethnicity literature implies, assolely the result of being "caught [or "torn"] betweentwo cultures" in consequence of living in an overseasdiaspora.1:INTRODUCTION 5Also for the purpose of this case study I focus ononly one of many possible public gatherings, celebrations,or performances. A great many Indian organizations,institutions, and events exist in Vancouver (see"Organizations and Institutions" in Chapter Three, andAppendix Two), and it would be physically impossible for oneindividual to attend all of them. Seasonal celebrations,pujas, life-cycle celebrations, jayantis (birthdays ofdeities or famous people), satsangs (religious congrega-tions), kathas (moral discourses), performances, forums andsymposia, classes and lessons, and other activities takeplace on a regular basis. Holi is one of the Hindu festi-vals which Yuva chooses to celebrate.This case study does not attempt to provide a pic-ture of the Indian community and all celebrations in Van-couver, nor even of second generation youth experiences. Itexamines how various identity, cultural, and social aspectscome into play in the daily lives of members of one particu-lar group known as Yuva. In this way, processes by whichculture is constructed, conceptually and in practice, aredocumented on a local level. The research objective is toidentify, document, and examine one set of examples of sub-jects' categories, definitions, motivations, choices,1:INTRODUCTION 6actions, and consequences. These can provide the basis forfurther research.A more detailed description of the families andindividuals who are the subjects of this dissertation fol-lows immediately (and is further elaborated on in ChaptersTwo and Three. See also Appendix One). Then I reviewanthropology / sociology literature pertaining to SouthAsians and South Asian youth. Next is a description of thetheoretical framework which guides this work and which drawson a number of theoretical ideas. The chapter concludeswith a statement of the limits of this dissertation. Chap-ter Two describes the methodology.Part II (Chapters Three and Four) deepens the eth-nographic description of the Indian community in Vancouverand more particularly of the subjects of this case study,and makes some observations about social categories. Chap-ter Three discusses families and social groups. ChapterFour describes and discusses Yuva.Part III (Chapters Five and Six) focuses on Yuva'scelebration of Holi. Chapter Five is primarily descriptiveand begins the analysis. Chapter Six provides an analysis.Chapter Seven, the concluding chapter, summarizes the find-ings of this case study and suggests some hypotheses whichmay be drawn to guide further research.1:INTRODUCTION 7THE SUBJECTSThe subjects of this dissertation are individuals,primarily Hindu, who observe some Indian cultural practices.In order to identify individuals who claim an Indianidentity without reifying a group (cf. Cassin and Griffith1981; Moerman 1965) I initiated fieldwork by attending pub-lic Indian activities and organizations. From the peoplewhom I first met, I asked exploratory questions along thelines of: 'Who are you?' 'What are you doing?' 'What doesthis mean to you?' 'Who are your friends?' In this way Idiscovered respondents' self definitions and came to know ofother individuals, organizations and activities.I began to trace "natural communities," individuals"directly involved in one another's lives" (Geertz1983:156). Ortner (1989:7-8) argues for the importance ofstudying "interrelated people--'communities'" through eth-nographic fieldwork in order to:maintain the contextuality, the thickness of people'slives, the fact that people live in a world of relation-ships as well as a world of abstract forces (e.g., themarket) and disembodied ideas (e.g., "opinions").She admits that "it is not at all obvious how such com-munities are to be defined, or where (if any actual place atall) they are to be found" (ibid:8).One can start at any point, with any individual,family, or group, and trace their social connections in anyl:INTRODUCTION 8direction. 5 This method led me to a network of families--orwhat respondents call a "family friends circle"--which con-sists primarily of Hindi speaking North Indians from urbanbackgrounds. The particular family friends circle of thiscase study will be capitalized in the remainder of thethesis (i.e. The Family Friends Circle).In my early interviews with the members of thisgroup, some of the teens spoke about Yuva, a fledgling"Indo-Canadian youth group" (their definition), and directedme to its council members. It seemed appropriate to focusmy research and writing around this group for a number ofreasons. One reason is that Yuva and its activities are anexpression of the visions and initiatives of some secondgeneration Indians. This is significant in light of thefact that 43.5% of British Columbia's South Asian ("Pun-jabi," "East Indian," Pakistani," and "Sri Lankan") popula-tion is under the age of twenty-five (Statistics Canada1993a), 6 and over one quarter of Vancouver's South Asian5For more formal network analysis, where the empha-sis is on revealing the network itself, one may look toBarth (1978), Bott (1957), Fleuret (1974), Hannerz (1980),Heiweg (1986), Mitchell (1969), and Pelto and Pelto (1978).6Calculated from single response data only in TableThree (Statistics Canada 1993a). This is significantlyhigher than the 32% of Vancouver's total population underthe age of twenty-five as calculated from Table One(Statistics Canada 1992).1:INTRODUCTION 9population is under the age of fifteen (Statistics Canada1990).I consider the second generation to be a pivotallocation for the construction of community and culture. Onthe one hand, youth are the motivation behind much of theirfirst generation parents' concerns and actions. On theother hand, I soon found that the youth themselves are for-mulating their own goals, taking their own initiatives, andstruggling to define what it means to be Indo-Canadian intheir own terms.I examine the self definitions of Yuva members, howthey are expressed, and the significance which an Indianidentity has for their daily lives. I also examine theirattitudes towards and relations with their parents and com-munity, their visions, their negotiations, and their initia-tives.A second reason why it seemed appropriate to focuson Yuva was because the kinds of identity and cultural ques-tions in which I am interested are similar to questionswhich they themselves are asking and are interested in dis-cussing.By choosing Yuva as a focus, I am not implying thatit is central to the lives of its members. It has a placealong with family, community events, school, school friends,hobbies, sports, and part-time jobs. It is, however, one1:INTRODUCTION 10arena in which some young Indo-Canadians are articulatingtheir cultural identity, expressing some of their concerns,and collectively trying to implement their own solutions.Yuva represents one example in which some Indo-Canadianyouth deal with their experiences and initiate actionstowards their visions.Yuva is one of a number of Indo-Canadian youthgroups in Vancouver that fluctuate in their activeness.Many are fostered by adult organizations in which parentswish to engage the interest of their youth. Here, as in theUnited States, they represent "a desperate attempt byparents connected with the local Hindu Temple Society [orother Indian organization] . . . to instill some semblanceof an Indian identity into children born and raised in theUS [sic] [or Vancouver]" (Basu 1989:106).For example, in Vancouver, the Vishva HinduParishad, Bengali Society, and Gujarati Society have in thepast all attempted youth groups that were largely adultdriven. The Gujarati Society group was reactivated in 1992,motivated by a renewed interest on the part of their youngmembers in learning more about their culture and religion.There are also strong Sikh and Ismaili youth organizations.A support group for Indo-Canadian girls sponsored by BurnabyMulticultural Society began in 1991. The same year, an1:INTRODUCTION 11Indo-Canadian youth group also formed in B.C.'s lower main-land in Abbotsford (The Link 1991).Immigrant service organizations such as OASIS andMOSAIC also form youth groups and hold workshops where theysee a need for an arena in which young Indo-Canadians canshare and discuss experiences and begin to deal with theirculture related problems. For example, Hemi Dhanoa, whoworks for MOSAIC as well as producing and hosting theprogram "South Asian Mosaic" for Community Television, hasorganized individuals into a group she calls YICS (YoungIndo-Canadians), in order that they may discuss issues andform panels which she then televises on "South AsianMosaic." Special programs have been produced dealing withidentity, problems of dating and communication with parents,and arranged marriage. OASIS conducted a survey in summer1991 and organized a workshop for Indo-Canadians, "Youth inthe '90's."There are also university organizations such as theUniversity of British Columbia's Sikh Students Association,an organization for visa students called Utsav (meaningcelebration), and a Bhangara Club.The central portion of this dissertation is devotedto an analysis of one of Yuva's organized events, theircelebration of the Hindu festival of Holi. It is a truismthat immigrants adapt and change their practices and values1:INTRODUCTION 12in their new environments. It is inevitable that a festivallike Holi will take on a different character and meaningoutside India. Bruner (1984:10) observes the more generalphenomenon that:. . . self and society are generated as they areexpressed -- it follows that every expression is also achange. . . . we agree with Sahlins (1981:67) that 'whatbegins as reproduction ends as transformation.' Culturechanges as it is enacted, in practice.My purpose here, therefore, will not be to demonstrate thisprocess by documenting changes in the celebration of Holi.A single event can serve as an entry point into aculture. As Geertz (1973:453) suggests, "One can start any-where in a culture's repertoire of forms and end up anywhereelse." Yuva's Holi celebration serves as an example of acultural event produced by the second generation. Itprovides an opportunity to examine how they "integrateIndian culture into [their] life," reproduce Indian culturalvalues, and also inevitably give the event their own inter-pretations.I choose this event not because it is more sig-nificant than any other of Yuva's activities or theactivities of other youth groups; nor because it is moresignificant in the organizers' lives than other events andactivities. Rather, it serves equally well as any otheractivities in reflecting broader ideas and processes.Behind the apparent ordinariness and common sense organiza-1:INTRODUCTION 13tion of Yuva's Holi celebration, lie various assumptions,understandings, choices, and negotiations which operate inthe daily lives and activities of its participants. Thisexamination of the Holi party attempts to illucidate these.Chapter Five examines how Yuva members understand Holi, andwhat they understand to be the components of such a culturalevents. Chapter Six examines four definitions of Yuva'scelebration of Holi, and what organizers do in consequenceof their definitions.LITERATURE REVIEWLITERATURE REVIEW: SOUTH ASIAN DIASPORAS Canadian social science literature on "South Asians"addresses a limited range of topics.? The emphasis has beenon immigration history and settlement, 8 and assimilation7Buchignani has produced three literature reviews onSouth Asians in Canada (Buchignani 1977, 1987, 1989). Thecollection of essays edited by Israel (1987) represents astock-taking of literature to date. Chandrasekbar (1986)also includes a large bibliography which includes generalworks of relevance to, but not specifically about, SouthAsians. U.B.C.'s library has a regularly updated compila-tion of holdings about South Asians in Canada. Sharma's(1991) essay also includes a literature review.8See Bolaria and Li (1985) for a Marxist analysis ofthe colonial circumstances of emigration; Buchignani (1985)for particular reference to Alberta; Buchignani et al.(1985); Chandrasekbar (1986) for a series of papers whichcover a wide variety of demographic information; D'Costa(1984, 1987) for quantitative demographic information;Jensen (1988) for the history of Asian Indian immigration toNorth America, specifically in relation to discrimination;Johnston (1984); Mayer (1959).1:INTRODUCTION 14perspectives, and is largely positivistic and functionalistand based on quantitative analysis. 9 A much smaller body ofwork deals with family life; 1° South Asian women;- 1 politi-cal activity; 12 and performing, visual, or literary arts. 13The essays in Israel (1987) express the need for a broadrange of new substantive and theoretical directions. 14Buchignani (1987) reports that little is known about self-perceptions of various South Asian ethnic groups, theirambitions, social organization, internal relations, familylife, or ritual and creative activities.In British Columbia, South Asians are a complexlyheterogeneous population, distinguished by separate andcross-cutting characteristics of birthplace, language, reli-gion, caste, class, customs, and upbringing, as well as age,9Moodley (1983:321) argues that this is true ofCanadian ethnic studies in general.10Ames and Inglis 1973-74; Kurian 1974; C. Siddique1977a, 1977b; M. Siddique 1974.11Battacharjee 1992; Naidoo 1987; Srivastava andAmes 1989.12Buchignani and Indra 1981b; Parel 1988; Wood 1978,1981.13Beck (1987), Cunningham (1990), Naimpally (1989),Nodwell (1985, 1993), Nuttall (1991).14 See also Srivastava and Ames (1989) for sugges-tions of new directions for research.1:INTRODUCTION 15gender, and interest. 15 In Canada, studies of Hindus per seare few and fragmented. 16 Because of a predominance ofSikhs in British Columbia, the majority of work in thisprovince has focussed on this group. 17 Hindus with whom Ihave spoken feel themselves under-represented, if notinvisible, in popular representations. One frustratedBengali women explained:I was taking a course. We had a multicultural class.That day they were showing Indian culture, only theSikhs. So I went there--Punjabi people--I talked to theteacher, I said, 'That is not the only Indian culture.We have so many things, you know, so you should find outmore about that.' So they didn't do anything. Everyyear they're showing the same picture[s], same Punjabipeople, but they're not the only Indian culture.There're so many things, you know. Even I offered them,you can come to our Society and you can take some pic-15Buchignani 1985; Dusenbery 1981; Mathur 1991;Paranjpe 1986; Wood 1978.16Anderson et al. 1983:214-222; Buchignani 1985:425-28; Buchignani et al. 1985 passim; Coward and Goa 1987;Dhruvarajan 1993; Filteau 1980; Goa et al. 1984; Pi 1978;Wood 1980. Some general works on overseas South Asians areuseful for the study of Hindus overseas: Conklin 1981, David1964, Ghosh 1989, Jain 1982, King 1981, Kurian andSrivastava 1983, Patel 1976, Schwarz 1967.17 "The makeup of the 'East-Indian' population as awhole . . . has gone from overwhelmingly Sikh to a pointwhere Sikhs represent only one-half to two-thirds of all'East Indians' in the lower mainland" (Dusenbery 1981:107)."Over eighty per cent of British Columbia's South Asiansbelong to the Sikh religious group" (Ramcharan 1984). Cal-culated from Canada's 1991 census (Statistics Canada 1993a,1993b) approximately sixty-six percent of the VancouverCMA's South Asian population, and seventy-two percent ofBritish Columbia's South Asian population, is Sikh.1:INTRODUCTION 16ture[s] and so at least a few picture[s] you can showthe different things. (TT-8) 116Similarly, in one of the Yuva discussion groups, when thetopic of media came up, the participants complained thatwhat coverage there is represents only Punjabis, not to men-tion negative events (cf. Said 1979). 19In academic literature, generalizations across thecategory of overseas South Asians are often assumed, maskingsignificant differences, both conceptual and actual. Evenwhen internal distinctions and divisions are the subject ofresearch (e.g. Buchignani and Indra 1981a; Mathur 1990), thecategory "South Asian" remains unexamined. Differenceswithin the category based on members' definitions remain allbut invisible. 2018Codes in brackets after quotations refer to datafiles. For computer files, "T" refers to tape transcripts,"I" to interview notes, and "0" to observation notes. "NB"refers to notebooks.19Mainstream institutionalized values and mainstreamrepresentations of Indians are often at odds with their ownvalues and self perceptions (Indra 1979a, 1979b). Anderson(1991) for Chinese, Cassin and Griffith (1981) in anexamination of the construction of class and ethnicity, andWhittaker (1986) for Haoles in Hawaii and Mexicans in theUnited States (1988), disentangle socially constructedmainstream images of immigrant populations from their ownself definitions.20Sollers (1989b) and Srivastava and Ames (1989)discuss the problem of presumed homogeneity. A few studiesexamine intercultural differences among South Asians (Bagley1987; Buchignani and Indra 1981a; Stopes-Roe and Cochrane1987; Wakil et al. 1981). Some address other variables suchas generational differences (Ames and Inglis 1973-74;Stopes-Roe and Cochrane 1987; Wakil et al. 1981), and gender(Siddique 1977a:221-2; Naidoo 1979, 1980; Stopes-Roe and1:INTRODUCTION 17Only a few works about South Asians address identityfrom the points of view of the subjects (Buchignani 1980a,1980b; Buchignani and Indra 1981a; Burghart 1987b; Chadney1977, 1990; Paranjpe 1986; Subramaniam 1977) .21Adaptation, adjustment, cultural change, andcultural preservation have been and continue to be commonthemes explored and applied to a variety of problems in lit-erature on ethnic identity in general, and South Asians inparticular. 22 Research into these issues has provided valu-able insights into the processes by which new culturalCochrane 1987).21 In the United States, see for example: Appadurai1991 <in press›; Bhattacharjee 1992.22For example: Israel 1987; Sharma et al. 1991. Seealso Naidoo (1987) on the difficulties of adaptation forSouth Asian women; Bagley (1987) on self-evaluation amongchildren from different geographic origins; Coward and Goa(1987) and Goa et al. (1984) on religious adaptation.Buchignani (1980a) describes how cultural differences, suchas strong social and family networks, are used as resourcesfor mutual aid. Adaptation of family roles are seen tolead to new patterns of decision-making (C. Siddique 1977b;M. Siddique 1974, 1977). Differences in degree of adapta-tion and change are seen to lead to inter-generational prob-lems (Akoodie 1980, Ames and Inglis 1973-74, Buchignani1977b, Chawla 1971, Sandhu 1980).It is not always clear how adaptation, etc. aremeasured. Self-evaluation, satisfactory employment (alsoself evaluated), and behavioral conformity are implied(Buchignani 1980a; Coward and Goa 1987). Giddens (1984:233-36) critiques the concept of adaptation as being imprecise,based on specious functionalist explanations, andindemonstrable. Srivastava and Ames (1989) argue that adap-tive strategies are often tautologically defined.1:INTRODUCTION 18environments are managed by immigrants. 23 Specific adaptivestrategies identified by Singer in relation to modernizationin India, "compartmentalization" and "vicarious ritualiza-tion," continue to be used in understanding processes ofadjustment for immigrants to new socio-cultural environ-ments. 24Recognition of the constructed quality of identityand examinations of the processes of construction 25 have asyet barely touched studies of South Asians in Canada.Phenomenological accounts of the experiences of South AsianCanadians are rare.23e.g. Ames and Inglis 1973-74; Kanungo 1984b.24 Singer defines "compartmentalization" as therationalization by which respondents explain "that there canbe no conflict because business and religion are differentand separate spheres" (Singer 1972:320). "Vicariousritualization" involves "the substitution of an abbreviatedrite and ceremony for several longer rites, or the substitu-tion of a proxy performer of the rites for the original per-former" (ibid:331).For applications of these models, see Ames andInglis (1973-74) on the adaptation of customs and values inSikh families in B.C.; Coward and Goa (1987) on the adapta-tion of Hinduism in Alberta; Dossa (1985) on Ismailis; andJoy (1984) on Sikh labourers in B.C. adapting religiouspractice to long hours of work.25cf. Appadurai 1991; Bentley 1987, 1991; Berreman1975; Breems 1991; Cohen 1985; Ghosh 1989; Hobsbawm andRanger 1983; Lowenthal 1986; Sollers 1989b; Turner andBruner 1986; Whittaker 1986, 1988; Yelvington 1991.1:INTRODUCTION 19LITERATURE REVIEW: SECOND GENERATION SOUTH ASIANS In a retrospective of research about South Asians inCanada, Buchignani (1987:120) states that, "Insofar as chil-dren are concerned, massive acculturation seems to be therule." Parents articulate similar perceptions:But I have a fear, that I came with semi-modern thoughtsbecause I was born in Africa, grew up in India, an agewhen things were changing. I've come to Canada, mychildren are born, they have certain amount of Westernand Eastern upbringing because of my and my wife's wayof life. But when my children have children, they'll bevery Westernized. That means I can see down the road,my great grandchildren possibly will be only brown incolor, and maybe Hindu by religion, and that's all.Otherwise everything will be strictly Canadian. . . .Tomorrow if my son or my daughter decides to marry inthe American society or the Canadian society other thanthe Asian society, then definitely there is going to bea split as far as the culture is concerned. And youcan't stop it, because this is what it is, this is theway of life here, you cannot change it. And you can'tforce them either. At one time you had the arrangedmarriage, and you had to marry within the societybecause you want to preserve your culture, but that doesnot apply here anymore. (TT-5)Buchignani (1977:355-56) also states, "I believe it to be acertainty that most of the Canadian-born will not becomeHindus." He (1987:120) recognizes that:much work remains to be done to clarify the causes anddetails. . . . particularly . . . with respect to thedegree to which the second generation maintains an eth-nic identity and commitment to its roots.The young respondents from Hindu families in mystudy insist that they are Hindu in spite of an expressedaversion to prescribed ritual and orthodox beliefs. Intheir doing so, Hinduism is being redefined. I hypothesize1:INTRODUCTION 20that acculturation will not appear to be so massive if onefocuses on the phenomenological experiences of the youththemselves and on their part in the social construction oftheir reality.Anthony Cohen (1986a:2) cautions that outwardappearances of conformity may be deceiving:We should not confuse an increasing similarity in themachinery of people's lives with their responses to it.The response--interpretation, meaning--is not mechan-ical, and frequently it is not overt.University students provide a good case in point. On thebasis of observation alone--and this includes observationsof first generation Indians and of "non-Indians"--many Indo-Canadian students appear to be completely assimilated intoCanadian society. Observers point to their clothing (jeans,tee shirts, cycling shorts, bomber jackets, etc.); theirlanguage (lack of accents, Canadian and local collo-quialisms); their activities and social life (schoolwork,sports, dances, etc.); their association on campus withpeers of other backgrounds and other cultural origins; andtheir desire for greater personal independence, genderequality, and freedom to date.John Berry (1987) defines assimilation by the com-bined characteristics of 1) not considering it "to be ofvalue to maintain relationships with other groups" and 2)not considering it "to be of value to maintain culturalidentity and characteristics."1:INTRODUCTION 21In view of Berry's definition, I argue that completeassimilation does not occur among youth who assert theirIndian identity, ascribe to Indian values, exhibit referencegroup identification with India and Indians (Merton 1964;Shibutani 1955), and take steps to strengthen socialnetworks between young Indo-Canadians. 26 As Cohen (1985)argues, the efficacy of symbols lies in their ability to bemanipulated and to carry various meanings. Customs anddress can persist, change, or be lost with only a tenuousrelationship to cultural values (cf. Sollers 1989a). 27 Itake change to be a given and conducive to identity forma-tion. Edward Bruner, in arguing for an anthropology ofexperience, articulates such a perspective:. . . the anthropology of experience sees people asactive agents in the historical process who constructtheir own world. . . . Cultural change, cultural con-tinuity and cultural transmission all occursimultaneously in the experiences and expressions ofsocial life. All are interpretive processes and indeedare the experiences 'in which the subject discovers him-self' (Dilthey 1976:203). [sic] (Bruner 1986:12)26Dusenbery (1981:110) notes about another Indo-Canadian population that "what is striking about the second-and third-generation Canadians of Punjabi-Sikh ancestry istheir strong ethnic identity."27Clifford (1988:277-346) documents how contradic-tions between self-definitions and symbolic representationsof identity on the one hand, and outsider demands forobservable criteria on the other, plague First Nationspeoples of Canada in their attempts to assert theiridentities and demand self determination.1:INTRODUCTION 22Glazer and Moynihan (1963:12-13) recognized thatchange does not undermine the strength of cultural identifi-cation:The powerful assimilatory influences of American societyoperate on all who come into it, making the children ofimmigrants and even immigrants themselves a very dif-ferent people from those they left behind. . . . It istrue that language and culture are very largely lost inthe first and second generations . . . But as the groupswere transformed by influences in American society,stripped of their original attributes, they wererecreated as something new, but still as identifiablegroups. Concretely, persons think of themselves as mem-bers of that group, with that name; they are thought ofby others as members of that group, with that name; andmost significantly, they are linked to other members ofthe group by new attributes that the original immigrantswould never have recognized as identifying their group,but which nevertheless serve to mark them off, by morethan simply name and association, in the third gener-ation and beyond.Little literature directly addresses cultural orsocial issues concerning youth of South Asian families inCanada, particularly from the point of view of the youththemselves. 2828See: Bhatnagar 1984; Bagley 1987; Kurian 1991;Kurian and Ghosh 1983; Manhas 1979; Sandhu 1980; Sharma1991; Tonks 1990; Wakil et al. 1981. For references toyouth, see also: Ames and Inglis 1974; Buchignani 1977;Kurian 1983; M. Siddique 1977; Naimpally 1989; Srivastava1974. For comparable British sources, see: Anwar 1978; Bal-lard 1979; Brah 1978; Pirani 1974; Stopes-Roe 1987; Taylor1976; Thompson 1974; Weinreich 1979.Although Hindu, Sikh, and Muslim South Asian youthfrom various backgrounds hold much in common, there are alsodifferences which make it advisable to use caution whengeneralizing between them (Anwar 1978; Stopes-Roe andCochrane 1987; Taylor 1976).1:INTRODUCTION 23Existing literature reproduces popular notions ofSouth Asian youth as "caught between two cultures." Thesenotions are expressed by Basu (1989), "American Born Con-fused 'Desis'"; Baxter (1991) "Torn Between Two Cultures";and Rao (1991), "The Agony When East Meets West." Burghart(1987a:242) offers a description of how youth are often con-ceptualized as lost in a "no-man's land":[Culture] is often thought to be a system of meaning orof communication in which internal relations are logi-cally or coherently ordered and in which external rela-tions are discretely bounded with other cultures. . . .It is . . . the implication in the notion that Indianimmigrants in Britain, or their offspring, are 'betweentwo cultures.' One almost has here the image of cultureas a nation state, complete with immigration offices anda no-man's land between frontiers in which people do notknow how to think or act.Analyses are often limited to the theoretical frame-works of assimilation, acculturation, and adjustment.Issues are conceptualized in terms of conflict, change,pressures, tensions, stresses, and strains. Relationsbetween parents and youth tend to be conceptualized in over-simplified, dichotomous terms positing the parallel and con-flicting pairs of objectifications of parents/children,Indian/Western, and traditional/modern, positions which areseparated by an unbridgeable "generation gap." 2929For a similar critique of the emphasis on conflictand acculturation, see Sarhadi (1993). Graduate studentsand young professionals from various South Asian backgroundspraised this presentation for moving beyond the much over-presented conflict stereotype of South Asian youth.Marriage practices provide an example of a complexissue which cannot be understood in terms of simple1:INTRODUCTION 24Ballard (1979), on the basis of her study of Sikhyouth in Leeds, argues that "polarization of the generationsis by no means inevitable. She observes a number of pos-sibilities:"Some parents who understand the need for change and cancommunicate the reasons for their attitudes to theirchildren are able to strike a balance between strictdiscipline and giving in to all their children'sdemands." (ibid:117-18)"Some families share a deep religious faith, and parentsand children are able to accept their differences calmlyand to maintain mutual respect and affection."(ibid:118)"Other parents are afraid of recognising the truth andthey may turn a blind eye to what their children aredoing . . ." (ibid)Some "parents are prepared to allow their children con-siderable freedom when this is necessary for theirrejection or acceptance by youth. Arranged marriage is per-ceived and defined in different ways, debated betweenparents and youth and among youth, and negotiated in a vari-ety of ways in which some aspects are accepted and some arerejected. A one hour panel discussion on arranged marriage,the culmination of a series of group discussion among YICS(Young Indo-Canadians) members, was produced by Hemi Dhanoaand broadcast several times (and continues to be rebroad-cast) on Community Channel's program, South Asian Mosaic.Participants discussed a broad range of practices, personalexperiences, expectations and compromises. See also Bose(1984). Many variations exist which include, for example,situations in which the parents introduce potential mateswho themselves have the final say, and young people who findsome sense of security in the help and advice of theirparents. In Britain, Anwar (1978:25-31), Ballard (1979:123-26), and Taylor (1976) show similar findings regarding thenegotiation of definitions and practices regarding arrangedmarriage. In urban centers in contemporary India changesare also taking place in marriage practices (Nair, Vemuriand Ram 1989:167-68).1:INTRODUCTION 25careers but they may still demand that they shouldbehave in a very orthodox way at home." (ibid)Some "parents may come to rely heavily on their childrenas interpreters and as sources of information."(ibid:119)There may be some "degree of breakdown in the hierarchi-cal relationships which . . . may enable the second gen-eration to challenge some of their parents' assumptionsand, while keeping up an outward show of respect, tonegotiate more freedom for themselves." (119)"pressure to conform can seem suffocating . . . but they[young Asians] too can derive support from thesenetworks" (ibid:122).Ballard goes on to remind the reader that "a phase of rebel-lion against parental values and authority is an almostuniversal phenomenon" (ibid:121).In rejecting cultural explanations as the mostimportant explanatory factor of inter-generational problems,Ballard argues that "severe and prolonged tension, wherethere seems to be little possibility of compromise,generally occurs when there are pre-existing factors withinthe family which makes it particularly vulnerable"(ibid:119). One such factor which she cites is "excessiveauthoritarianism of the father, whose behaviour may bepartly the result of living in Britain." Other factors maybe at work where "a few families are characterized by analmost total breakdown of ordinary relationships. This isfrequently associated with poverty, overcrowding or mentaland physical ill health affecting the family" (ibid:120).1:INTRODUCTION 26Kurian (1991) reports from a comparative study heundertook with both South Asian university students inCanada (Calgary) and university students in India: "To thequery, whether parents' viewpoint [sic] are often alien toyouth, only 38.8% of the Canadian youth agreed, while 53.2%of Indian youth agreed" (1974:52). This suggests the pos-sibility that the generation gap and perhaps cultural con-flict, for university students at least, may not be more,but less, prevalent in this overseas context than in India.Kurian cites a study undertaken by NACOI (National Associa-tion of Canadians of Origins in India) with South Asianyouth living across Canada in which it was found that, "only4.3% [a figure which seems to me to be too low] had conflictwith parents while 76.6% felt that parental guidance wasessential in matters affecting them."Issues of parent-youth communications, independence,dating, marriage, and identity are certainly present andpressing in the lives of youth whom I interviewed. But theabove findings lead one to question a sole emphasis on con-flict.Weinreich (1979) examines youth's reappraisal of andcontinuing allegiance to their ethnic group from apsychological perspective. He (ibid:106) argues that, whileidentity development is a common and widely shared process1:INTRODUCTION 27which adolescents go through, special pressures are faced bychildren of ethnic minorities. But he recommends:that the terms 'culture conflict' and 'identity con-flict' be sparingly used. . . . When applied to the con-sequences of contact between different cultures, theyfalsely stigmatize whole groups of people as 'socialproblems.' Whilst some adolescents of immigrantparentage may go through acute phases of psychologicaldistress, there are positive pay-offs in the contribu-tions of creative resolutions of identification con-flicts to social change.The search for identity by Indian youth is notaddressed in Canadian literature. Some of the British work,however, gives voice to the youth themselves, provides thereader with a nuanced view of the complexities of theiraspirations and problems, examines how they redefine what itmeans to be Indian (or "Asian"), and characterizes thesearch for self identity as a process which includes selfexamination and conscious decision making (Ballard 1979;Brah 1978; Pirani 1974; Taylor 1976).The role of second generation youth both as catalystand initiators in relation to the perpetuation of Indian1:INTRODUCTION 28culture has been almost entirely overlooked. Catherine Bal-lard (1979:128) points to the fact that youth do think andact when she argues that:In reality, young Asians are not faced with an either/orsituation. They have difficult dilemmas to resolve andin resolving them they work towards their own synthesisof Asian and British for in the present case, Canadian]values.I argue that, in resolving their dilemmas, youngIndians are also taking part in the construction of "Indiancommunity," "Indian culture" and what it means to be"Indian." An approach of symbolic interactionism (on whichI will elaborate later in this chapter) directs inquiry to"trace and study the emerging process of definition which isbrought into play" (Blumer 1969:86).Blumer (ibid:70) emphasizes that it is not necessaryfor participants in the construction of collective action tobehave in the same way:Each participant necessarily occupies a different posi-tion, acts from that position, and engages in a separateand distinctive act. It is the fitting together ofthese acts and not their commonality that constitutesjoint action.The corollary of this is that:In making the process of interpretation and definitionof one another's acts central in human interaction, sym-bolic interaction is able to cover the full range of thegeneric forms of human association. It embraces equallywell such relationships as cooperation, conflict,domination, exploitation, consensus, disagreement,closely knit identification, and indifferent concern forone another. (ibid:67)1:INTRODUCTION 29Empirically, Indian parents and youth "can and do meet eachother in the full range of human relations" (ibid:68), con-flict being only one of these.The development of Yuva and its activities takesplace within this range of relations and is made possible byit. Both parents and youth are equally actors in the ongo-ing construction of their realities and their cultures. Inthis perspective, it makes no sense to analytically alignparents with the traditional nor to view the second gener-ation as simply reacting against pressures imposed by theirculturally determined parents. Both are involved in a con-tinuous process of interpretation, assessment, and adjustingattitudes and behaviours in the context of daily circum-stances that must be handled. In their construction of cul-ture, results are both intended and unintended, recognizedand unrecognized, reproductions and new constructions.INSIDER CATEGORIESHerbert Blumer (1969:21-47) outlines a methodologyin which premise, problem, and concepts must arise from theempirical world (cf. Glaser and Strauss 1967). Heidentifies two steps of research: "exploration" and "inspec-tion." By exploration he means:a flexible procedure in which the scholar shifts fromone to another line of inquiry, adopts new points ofobservation as his study progresses, moves in new direc-tions previously unthought of, and changes his recogni-1:INTRODUCTION 30tion of what are relevant data as he acquires moreinformation and better understanding. (ibid:40)By inspection he means the analysis of the relationship ofelements in the empirical world.The present research began with exploration, inwhich initial observations and interviews were used to guidethe location and focus of further research. Themes andcategories were allowed to emerge from the data.CONSTRUCTING "CULTURE" "this is my culture," "in our culture," "the culture ofyour country," "among different Indian cultures,""people from other [or same] cultures.""love my culture," "committed to their culture," "whatpeople feel about their culture.""promote our culture," "retain my culture," "try topreserve culture," "foster culture," "give up their ownculture.""learn Indian culture," "find out more about our cul-ture," "know very little about my culture.""way of showing culture," "see all the different cul-tures," "having culture," "get involved in Indian cul-ture."In my interviews and conversations with Indians inVancouver, as well as in Indian publications and speeches atIndian events, "culture" occurs as a widely used term. Dif-ferent individuals use it with apparently different mean-ings, and meanings vary with context. Yet it was some timebefore I realized that "(Indian) culture" (and "Indian com-1:INTRODUCTION 31munity," to be examined in Chapter Three) were unexaminedassumptions on both my part and theirs.Clearly, the speakers of the phrases above areactively engaged in culture. Culture appears to have analmost tangible reality for them which can be seen, felt,expressed, manipulated, possessed, or dispossessed. Indi-viduals have attitudes toward culture and act towards it.Cultures are reified and essentialized not only byanthropologists (cf. Appadurai 1986b; Clifford 1988; Fox1991; Marcus 1986; Ortner 1984; Rosaldo 1988; Turner andBruner 1986; Yengoyan 1986), but also by members. Culturehas common sense, ideological and experiential meanings ineveryday life for its subjects. 31The respondents of this study not only hold modelsof their own or others' cultures, but also have thoughts andqueries on the concepts themselves. Many of them have beenexposed to many of the same ideas as the researcher has, andthink about some of the same sociological problems.In a discussion group with half a dozen youngIndians, the definition of culture came up as a topic.^Oneof the participants, a secondary school student, had justexplained how she does not mind participating in her31cf. Haagen (1990:37-42), who discusses differencesbetween Native (First Peoples of Canada) and mainstreamdefinitions of culture.1:INTRODUCTION 32school's multicultural events by wearing Indian clothing orperforming a dance. One of the women, a university student,responded:A: Most of my white friends are really interested in theculture. 'Cause their culture doesn't deal with thetraditions that we have, the clothes that we have andthe things that we do. . . . So they're always askingme questions. I don't know . . . a lot of my friendsdon't have a culture. Like when you say culture, whatdo you mean? I don't know how you would define it ina white society. . . . Because . . . of the way wedress, our language, the events that occur, that allto me feels like culture. Together it's my culture--[interjection by another participant]: Just say anotherperson came along being of the Caucasian descent--A: And asked me, I could define it. (TT-Y2)Defining, constructing, and negotiating culture,cultural identities, and community is what this dissertationinvestigates.INSIDER SOCIAL CATEGORIES Say 'Hindu' if you have in mind a human type common tothe whole continent; otherwise, according as you want torefer to this or that group, say 'Bengali, Punjabi,Hindustani, Marathi, Tamil, Sikh, Muslim,' and so on.As to the word 'Indian,' it is only a geographicaldefinition, and a very loose one at that. (Chaudhuri1967:34, quoted in Berreman 1975:71; cf. Rushdie 1991)Nevertheless, respondents in Vancouver most commonlyrefer to themselves and each other simply as "Indians" (or"Indian people/person"). The term becomes meaningful in anoverseas context where ultimate origins in India is a sharedcharacteristic of a minority population. I asked one of the1:INTRODUCTION 33Hindi speaking respondents whether he used the English wordor a Hindi word. He explained:It ["Indian"] is an English word, yea . . . use it allthe time. But the correct term is Bharatiya. Also whenwe--when I write a letter in Hindi, it is hard to write'Indian,' so I quickly switch to the word Bharatiya, butto that extent the language becomes somewhat artificial.But it is quite accepted norm, we just do it inter-changeably all the time.Because of confusion with indigenous Indians,"Indian(s)" is not generally used either in academic work oreveryday discourse in the mainstream to designate origins inIndia. In this thesis, however, having established the pop-ulation as those with origins in India, I will prefer to usemembers' own simple term wherever more precision is notcalled for.Canadian academic writing on Indians in Canada iscategorized under "South Asians," which refers to those withorigins in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka,Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, and the Maldives(Buchignani 1985:414, Kanungo 1984a:6). (In British litera-ture, "Asians," and in the United States, "Asian Indians"are more commonly used). This includes Indians who haveemigrated to Canada from elsewhere, most commonly Africa,Fiji, the Caribbean, or Britain. "South Asian origins" isthe relevant Canadian census category of ethnic origin, andincludes Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Singhalese, Tamil,1:INTRODUCTION 34Bangladeshi, East Indian, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan(Statistics Canada 1993a).Local Indian newspapers and television programs usethe term, "South Asian" to suggest similar populations: e.g.The Link, a community newspaper, which subtitles itself"South Asian Community Newspaper"; and South Asian Mosaic, aCommunity Channel Television production. 32 Indians do not,however, refer to themselves as "South Asian(s)," a categorytoo broad to express meaningful self definitions."East Indian(s)" as a description of an ethniccategory was appropriated by members in 1947 with the forma-tion of the East Indian Canadian Citizens' Welfare Associa-tion. 33 "East Indian(s)" had some currency in academic lit-erature during the 1970's and earlier. It is disliked bymany Indians who are informed and politicized towards theproblems of racism on the grounds that it has historicalpejorative overtones and is inaccurate (the argument com-monly used is that there is no country called "East India").32Buchignani (1980b) documents how Fijians insist ondistinguishing themselves from a general category of "SouthAsians" or "East Indians." Many Hindus with whom I spokequestioned whether Ismailis would consider themselves to beIndo-Canadians. The later query is discussed further infollowing chapters.33An ethno-political organization aimed at changinggovernment policies toward East Indians in Canada (Chadney1977:197). This organization was established as a move awayfrom Sikh domination of political affairs (Dusenbery1981:106)1:INTRODUCTION 35Others, however, find it a convenient or habitual term anduse it occasionally or freely in self reference or referenceto others.In Canada, "Indo-Canadians" has its roots ingovernment ideologies of multiculturalism (Porter 1975:277-82). Among Indians, it is used primarily by the second gen-eration, and specifically by Yuva. It is otherwise used incontexts of multiculturalism. Where I use it, it reflectsthe self-referential term in a particular context."Community," is in common everyday use among Indians(see also Chapter Three, "Communities"). Where "ethnicity"or "ethnic group" contain connotations of outsiders' desig-nations of difference (Glazer and Moynihan 1975; Patterson1975; Whittaker 1986; Williams 1989), "community" reflects,as A.P. Cohen (1985:15) puts it, "a primacy of belonging."I asked one of the Hindi speaking respondents about whatappears to be a widespread use of the English word. Heexplained:We use the word 'community.' It's very peculiar, we arevery permissive in terms of language. . . . this is acultural trait. Nobody in our immediate group mindsusing English words all the time.Phrases like, "in our community," "the Hindu com-munity," "the Gujarati community," "the Sikh community," and"the Indian community" (or just "the community") reflectsituational self definitions (Berreman 1975; Leach 1964;1:INTRODUCTION 36Nagata 1974) in a way which Ronald Cohen (1978:387) hascharacterized as "nesting dichotomizations of inclusivenessand exclusiveness." Used as a symbolic designation whichhas the ability to take on meaning rather than to bearspecific meanings (Cohen 1985), "community" allows forambiguity and lack of consensus. When one Gujarati womantalks about the great effort it takes on the part of parents"to make the children do all this, to stay within the com-munity, to help participate in the culture," she may meanany or all of the Indian community, the Hindu community, theGujarati Society, or her family's caste group. "Community"takes on meanings in interactions where individuals situateselves and others.In summary, in this dissertation I use the term"Indian" most often to reflect members' sense of identity,"Indo-Canadian" where it is used in the context of Yuva, and"South Asian" where it reflects an academic or censuscategory. In order to preserve members' sense of ambiguityabout boundaries and belonging, I will adopt members' use ofthe category "Indian community" as indicating a generalsense of "among Indians."1:INTRODUCTION 37THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKTURNING THE THEORETICAL TABLES You're going to need a good question to get the discus-sion started.[a few moments of discussion]How about, 'How do you integrate Indian culture intoyour life?'That should get people talking.Everyone will have something to say about that. (NB-III:2-8; 0-2. Paraphrased from notes. The questionis an exact quotation.)This suggestion came from Yuva's five council mem-bers, two women and three men. In order to find out aboutthe views of some second generation Indian youth, I attendedtheir first council meeting of 1991. I had explained myinterest in forming a discussion group with half a dozenIndian young people from different backgrounds for the pur-pose of talking about issues relating to youth and "Indianculture." Those present were enthusiastic, since one of thelong term goals for Yuva is to be able to provideopportunities for youth to talk together and to share theircommon problems and interests.In a few moments of discussion they came up withwhat at first glance seemed to be a simple but apt question,one which effectively summarized what I wanted to get at:How do you integrate Indian culture into your life?1:INTRODUCTION 38As I thought about that question, I gradually cameto see its significance. Inherent in it is a twist on morecommon approaches to the problem of ethnic identity in gen-eral and South Asians in particular. The question demands areconsideration of the processes of cultural definition andidentity formation, and of the meaning, direction, andagents of integration. 341. The question reverses the more commonly assumeddirection of integration. It situates the speakers asCanadians living in Canada, and identifies Indian cul-ture as that which must be integrated.2. The question shifts the agent of integration. Itassumes choice, action, initiative: "How do youintegrate . . . culture?", rather than the more commonpassive perspective asking how individuals areintegrated, assimilated, or socialized into a single andfixed group of reference.3. The question changes the perspective on integration.It does not presuppose and reify an ethnic group or eth-nic culture. It rather implies activities andpriorities.The subsequent research of this dissertation bearsout that the orientation of the question reflects moreclosely experiences of second generation respondents. The34Berry (1987) defines integration by dual charac-teristics of 1) considering it "to be of value to maintaincultural identity and characteristics," and 2) consideringit "to be of value to maintain relationships with othergroups." He contrasts this in a table of binary oppositionswith assimilation which is characterized by not consideringit of value to maintain relationships with other groups.Yuva members expressly consider it of value to maintainrelationships both with other groups and their own (i.e.other Indo-Canadians).1:INTRODUCTION 39process of integrating is also one of defining and creating.The youth's question demands a recognition of their part inthe construction of their culture.EVERYDAY ACTIVITY AND PRACTICAL CONSCIOUSNESS This research is guided by an assumption of agencyand draws on several theoretical perspectives in attemptingto identify the conceptual categories by which respondentsoperate, and to analyze action. Anthony Giddens (1976,1984) concept of structuration "relates to the fundamentallyrecursive character of social life, and expresses the mutualdependence of structure and agency" (1976:69). 35 Hisstratification model of the acting self is useful in examin-ing actors' conceptualizations. The research also draws onsymbolic interactionism (Blumer 1969), Barbara Ward's (1965)phenomenological scheme of "conscious models," and onreference group theory (Merton 1964; Shibutani 1955).Giddens (1976:122) argues that the study of largersystems must take place at the level of everyday activity,which are expressive of social ideas. He places the empha-sis on individual interactions:The proper locus of the study of social reproduction isin the immediate process of the constituting of interac-tion. . . . every interaction bears the imprint of theglobal society: this is why there is definite point to35Compare Bentley (1987, 1991) and Yelvington (1991)for a practice approach to ethnicity, using Bourdieu.1:INTRODUCTION 40the analysis of 'everyday life' as a phenomenon of thetotality.Giddens argues (1984:3) that individual actions must beexamined and interpreted in relation to the conceptualprocesses which guide the actions:'Action' is not a combination of 'acts' . . . Nor can'action' be discussed in separation from the body, itsmediations with the surrounding world and the coherenceof an acting self. What I call a stratification modelof the acting self involves treating the reflexivemonitoring, rationalization and motivation of action asembedded sets of processes.What he defines as a "stratification model" consists ofan interpretation of the human agent, stressing three'layers' of cognition / motivation: discursive con-sciousness, practical consciousness and the unconscious.(ibid:376).He thus divides consciousness into two types and juxtaposesboth of these to the unconscious, which is inaccessible and"poses altogether a different order of problem" (ibid:xxxi)."Discursive consciousness means being able to put thingsinto words" (ibid:45). The analysis of discursive con-sciousness is the relatively straight forward accounting forwhat subjects say about what they do. As for practical con-sciousness, Giddens suggests that:It would be an error to suppose that non-discursive com-ponents of consciousness are necessarily more difficultto study empirically than the discursive, even thoughagents themselves, by definition, cannot commentdirectly on them. (ibid:xxx-xxxi)Giddens suggests that "non-discursive" or "practi-cal" consciousness--"all the things which actors know1:INTRODUCTION 41tacitly about how to 'go on' in the contexts of social lifewithout being able to give them direct discursive express-ion" (ibid:xxiii)--can be studied through analyzing"situated strips of action" (ibid:330). He specifies(ibid:330-31) how such a strip of interaction "can readilybe prised open":Each turn in the talk exchanged between participants isgrasped as meaningful by them (and by the reader) onlyby the tacit invocation of institutional features of thesystem . . . These are drawn upon by each speaker, who(rightly) assumes them to be mutual knowledge held alsoby others. (his parentheses)Embedded in these strips of action is the cultural knowledgewhich makes exchanges meaningful to participants. Sharedknowledge includes procedures, meanings, role definitions,power relations, rights, obligations, expectations, and soon.Yuva's celebration of Holi serves as an extendedstrip of action. My analysis will be aided by "mutualknowledge"--"knowledge of 'how to go on' in forms of life,shared by lay actors and sociological observers; the neces-sary condition of gaining access to valid descriptions ofsocial activity" (ibid:375)--which I have gained through theprocess of extended fieldwork.We may see that an an aspect of practical conscious-ness are the definitions which individuals hold of thegroups to which they consider themselves to belong, and1:INTRODUCTION 42those of others. Barbara Ward (1965), in attempting toexamine variations in the definitions of "Chinese" which sheencountered among South China fishermen, identified threebroad types of definitions.Ward terms an "ideological model" (or "believed-intraditional model") the definitions which actors hold aboutthe true cultural community--"Chinese" in her case, "Indian"in the present case. She calls her second type of defini-tion the "immediate model" (or the "homemade model"). Thisis the individual's "own subgroup's model of its own socio-cultural system as they believe it to be" (ibid 124). Wardterms a third type of definition "internal observers'models." These are insiders' evaluations and definitionsabout what they believe other sub-groups to be.Ward suggests that a characteristic of these defini-tions is that members of subgroups compare their "immediatemodel" of their own social arrangements with their "observ-ers' model" of other groups. "Such comparisons usuallyserve merely to confirm" the individual's "belief in thesuperiority of his own group" (ibid:125).^Individuals alsotypically measure their own subgroup and those of othersagainst the "ideological model" in terms of how these groupsconform to or diverge from the ideological model. Othersare, however "critized according to criteria set by what arebelieved to be, and very largely are, agreed standards--the1:INTRODUCTION 43standards of the believed-in traditional (ideological)models. Therein . . . lies the degree of 'Chinese-ness' [or"Indian-ness"] of any other groups (or individuals) . . .Only patterns of living which are so aberrant as to implythat this traditional ideology has never been accepted aredubbed 'non-Chinese' [or "non-Indian"].Ward briefly refers to a fourth category of defini-tions, foreign patterns, which she suggests "are judged bycriteria which the foreigners themselves do not and are notexpected to share." This corresponds to what may beidentified as Indians' definitions of "North American." Allof these types of definitions will be further elaboratedspecifically in relation to the Indian community in"Defining Selves and Others" in Chapter Three.Reference group theory accounts for the fact thatindividuals commonly identify with more than one referencegroup. As Nagata (1974:333) suggests, "ethnic groups arespecial kinds of reference groups." A reference group is,according to Shibutani (1955:365), "that group whose outlookis used by the actor as the frame of reference in the organ-ization of his perceptual field." This is a useful conceptin examining cultural identity when "One of the character-istics of life in modern mass societies is simultaneous par-ticipation in a variety of social worlds" (ibid:367).Shibutani (ibid:369) argues that:l:INTRODUCTION 44In the analysis of the behavior of men in mass societiesthe crucial problem is that of ascertaining how a persondefines the situation, which perspective he uses inarriving at such a definition, and who constitutes theaudience whose responses provide the necessary confirma-tion and support for his position. This calls forfocusing attention upon the expectations the actorimputes to others, the communication channels in whichhe participates, and his relations with those with whomhe identifies himself.An examination of reference group identification alsorequires a recognition of practical consciousness, as wellas of discursive consciousness and action.SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISMSymbolic interactionism directs attention to indi-vidual actions, interactions, and interpretations in theconstruction of conceptual categories and the formation ofcollective or joint action.The key to symbolic interactionism is that "theessence of society lies in an ongoing process of action"(Blumer 1969:71). Action takes place in a circular con-tinuum of interpretation, definition, action, interpreta-tion, and so on. Interpretation of meaning guides action,the resulting interaction creates meaning, and meanings arefurther interpreted to yield further action. Blumer(ibid:66-67) elaborates on this process:First . . . human interaction is a positive shapingprocess in its own right. The participants in it haveto build up their respective lines of conduct by con-stant interpretation of each other's ongoing lines ofaction. As participants take account of each other's1:INTRODUCTION 45ongoing acts, they have to arrest, reorganize, or adjusttheir own intentions, wishes, feelings, and attitudes;similarly, they have to judge the fitness of norms,values, and group prescriptions for the situation beingformed by the acts of others. . . .. . . second . . . the dual process of definition andinterpretation . . . operates both to sustain estab-lished patterns of joint conduct and to open them totransformation. .. . Redefinition imparts a formativecharacter to human interaction, giving rise at this orthat point to new objects, new conceptions, new rela-tions, and new types of behavior."Joint action," "the larger collective form ofaction that is constituted by the fitting together of thelines of behavior of the separate participants" (ibid:70),is seen to be constituted through the dynamic processes ofindividual decisions and group interactions (ibid:53). Anunderstanding of collective action requires the examinationof "how people are led to align their acts in differentsituations" (ibid:76). It follows that:A network or an institution . . . functions becausepeople at different points do something, and what theydo is a result of how they define the situation in whichthey are called on to act (ibid:19).The explication of Holi will include an examinationof:1. how members of Yuva define their situation;2. their conceptualizations and values as revealed intheir actions and statements;3. their goals, decisions, evaluations, choices,actions, and negotiations; how they "align theiracts";4. immediate consequences (intended and unintended) oftheir actions.1:INTRODUCTION 46Blumer (ibid:71) describes the process by which con-ceptualizations such as culture become reified and take on asense of coherence for members:The common definition [of a joint action that is made byits participants] supplies each participant withdecisive guidance in directing his own act so as to fitinto the acts of the others. Such common definitionsserve, above everything else, to account for the regu-larity, stability, and repetitiveness of joint action invast areas of group life; they are the source of theestablished and regulated social behavior that is envi-sioned in the concept of culture.Berger and Luckmann's (1966:78) aphorism expresses the rela-tionship between shared definitions and the individual:. . . man is capable of producing a world that he thenexperiences as something other than a human product.Individuals tend to conform to social definitionsbut do not necessarily do so. Blumer's (1969:71-2) for-mulation includes contestation and change or transformationas intrinsic aspects of the processes of interpretation,definition, and action:the career of joint actions also must be seen as open tomany possibilities of uncertainty. . . . One, jointactions have to be initiated--and they may not be. Two,. . . a joint action may be interrupted, abandoned, ortransformed. Three, the participants may not make acommon definition of the joint action . . . and hencemay orient their acts on different premises. Four, acommon definition of a joint action may still allow widedifferences in the direction of the separate lines ofaction . . .Common definitions of Indian culture, community, andidentity can be seen to account for a cohesiveness and regu-larity of behaviour among those who subscribe to these1:INTRODUCTION 47categories. Transformations are introduced when new defini-tions are made, or actions take a course which has not beenpreviously established.Youth are among those who make such new definitionsand take such new actions. A useful way to conceptualizerelationships between parents and youth according toBlumer's formulation is as follows. Parents' actions serveas definitions towards youth actions. Youth interpret theseactions and determine their actions. In doing so, they, inturn, define actions for their parents. Both parents andyouth may understand and be able to articulate role expecta-tions and cultural values. Yet their actions are notrestricted to these roles and values as they interpret them.According to Blumer (ibid:81-2):Self-indication is a moving communicative process inwhich the individual notes things, assesses them, givesthem a meaning, and decides to act on the basis of themeaning. . . . behavior, accordingly, is not a result ofsuch things as environmental pressures, stimuli,motives, attitudes, and ideas but arises instead fromhow he interprets and handles these things in the actionwhich he is constructing.In the examination of action and consequences, Iwill find it useful to refer to two additional theoreticalpoints made by Giddens. One is his rejection of structuresand society as solely morally or materially constraining.He argues that all structures are simultaneously constrain-ing and enabling (1984:169-180). The second theoretical1:INTRODUCTION 48point to which I will refer is Giddens' concept of the con-sequences of action as not merely the result of decisionsand choices made by actors, but as sometimes unintended andeven unrecognized by actors (Giddens 1979:49-95, 1984:8-14).IDENTITY AS A PROBLEM IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF KNOWLEDGE Orlando Patterson (1977) defines "ethnicity" in con-trast to "culture" as a consciousness of difference that isa prerequisite for commitment to group identity. Thisassumption of an outwardly imposed consciousness of dif-ference is the basis for structural and materialist theoriesof ethnicity (e.g. Cassin and Griffith 1981; Williams 1989).The political and ideological facts of ethnicity and racismwithin the context of multiculturalism and the experiencesof belonging to a minority cultural group impress themselveson individuals and shape their sense of individual or groupidentity. These facts also set parameters which definegroup action.What is often overlooked in these kinds of analyses,however, are a) affective rewards of ethnic identity, and b)relationships, expectations, and circumstances within acategory. As Kogila Moodley (1981:10) has suggested:The attractiveness of essentially economic explanationsof ethnicity lies in their ability to pinpoint thebeneficiaries of ethnic mobilization. . . . they revealthe social forces in motion which retain or abolish theneed for ethnicity in a specific historical setting.However, while analyzing the instrumental rewards of1:INTRODUCTION 49ethnic ties, they lose sight of the intrinsic rewards ofethnic belonging. . . . Ethnicity is both an objectiveand subjective phenomena. What needs to be explored istheir inter-action, rather than the simple assertion ofthe primacy of one over the other. (her italics)Intrinsic rewards and interactions between Indians is sig-nificant in creating consciousness of cultural identities.Segregation and "racism" between Indian groups, and internalstatus building are often of more immediate concern thanrelations in the wider society (cf. Bentley 1987, 1991).Bentley (1991:172) argues that:cognitive and social differentiation cannot simply betaken as extant facts that can account for perceptionsof identity. . . . In the same way, group conflict can-not be taken as simple fact and then used to account forsocial consensus, while disallowing causation in thereverse direction. . . . My failure to offer a completemodel that considers equally relations among all termsrepresents a choice of what to emphasize . . . The sameis true of my emphasis on domination within ethnicgroups, something I believe has been insufficientlystudied, rather than domination between groups, a topicmore than adequately treated in the existing literature.Peter Berger (1966:111), by demonstrating anaffinity between the social psychology of symbolic inter-actionism and the sociology of knowledge, suggests theircombined significance to be that:identity, with its appropriate attachments ofpsychological reality, is always identity within aspecific, socially constructed world. . . . Oneidentifies oneself, as one is identified by others, bybeing located in a common world.This thesis focuses on the construction of theeveryday world of the "Indian community" and the locating ofself within it as responses to inside relationships andI:INTRODUCTION 50affective needs, recognizing that these are situated inbroader social circumstances.In particular, Yuva members express the need to knowthemselves before attending to problems of interaction withoutsiders. This priority became clear in a youth forumorganized by Yuva. One of the topics on the agenda was"racism" between Indians. The council sought the help of an"expert" as moderator, Charan Gill of B.C.O.F.R. (B.C.Organization to Fight Racism), who spoke about institutionalracism in Canadian society.During the question and discussion period, it becameevident that participants were speaking at two differentlevels, the structural and the interpersonal. Many of theparticipants argued that stereotyping and discriminationbetween Indians on the basis of religion, class, and casteis more immediately pressing than racism in the larger con-text, and ought to be of greater concern to the Indian com-munity. Others did concur with the speaker about structuralproblems which perpetuate discrimination and racism. (See"Yuva's Agenda" in Chapter Four for an elaboration of Yuvamembers' experiences of racial prejudice and discrimina-tion).One young Hindu woman, a university student, who wasactively involved in organizing the Yuva youth forum andchoosing the topics, commented on her own refusal to recog-1:INTRODUCTION 51nize racist attitudes against herself, even though sherecognizes that such attitudes exist:I was the only person in high school, maybe one otherguy in my graduating class, we were Indian. But thething is I never felt Indian. I feel like--when I'msitting here with you I don't ever feel like I'm brownand you're white. I've always felt like, if somebody'slooking at me, and they're all white, say, and I'mbrown, and they're looking at me, I'll think, 'Wellgosh, do my pants look funny or something?' I neverever thought it would be anything else. Now I realize alot of people, they think, they do feel they are wearinga mask of some sort, and that disturbs me. . . . These["Oreo," "coconut"] terms make me realize that peoplereally do feel-- . . . Even when I'm commuting andstuff, I watch people. Like say a bunch of Indians geton the bus or a bunch of Orientals get on the bus, and Ijust watch general people's faces . . . You can seepeople's eyes change, just sort of their body language,and it's there. I mean, you can't pretend it's notthere. That's blindly dealing with an issue.Further evidence of the priority of internalprejudices over racism surfaced during one of the Yuva dis-cussion sessions. I had asked participants whether experi-ences of discrimination had had any effect on their ownattitudes. One participant gave an illustration of herexperience of being discriminated against by a high schoolteacher. A few comments showed sympathy for her situationand tentatively addressed racism:Ramesh: 36 I mean, you know it exists out there, becauseyou just have to watch those commercials . . .'campaign against racism.' But when I look at them .. . it doesn't strike me as that extreme--like the waythey talk about it seems really extreme--36A11 respondents' names which appear in any part ofthis thesis are pseudonyms and bear no relation to actualnames.1:INTRODUCTION 52Manjit: I think it is . . . in our everyday life I don'tthink we encounter it but it is out thereRanjit: There's job discrimination, when you're outthere getting interviews and stuff.The discussions then very quickly turned to expressing agreater concern for what they experienced more in theirdaily lives, prejudice and discrimination between Indians(for an elaboration of these experiences, see "Expansion andDiversification" in Chapter Six).:Ramesh: Don't you think the misconception is--the way Ihear it is that it's always white against everyoneelse. I don't think it's that way. It's alsobetween--Manjit: We're stereotyping, but it's also between theminorities against each other--Ramesh: Yea, yea--Ranjit: . . . You shouldn't be--you can't say there'swhite people discriminating because they do it amongstthemselves, and that's kind of true.Manjit: Indian people discriminate against white peopletoo so it works both ways . . . I think because theydon't want intermarriages, that kind of thing.[everyone agrees]Ranjit: I just thought of an example, actually, ofprejudice within the Indian community. . . . itinvolved getting my name on a list to get something,and because I'm Indian and the gentleman who was run-ning this, he was Ismaili, and because I'm Indian helet me have this. And this white lady who was goingfor the same thing, he didn't even take her name forthe list, he said that it's too full. And we did thisat exactly the same time. I ended up getting it, Ithought it was really unfair. There is a lot ofprejudice among Indian people as well.1:INTRODUCTION 53In this thesis, the emphasis is on the examinationof self definitions in so far as they are a response tointernal circumstances. The examination of outside pres-sures themselves is beyond the scope of this thesis. Inredressing the imbalance of an existing emphasis on outsidefactors, however, this study provides data toward anexploration of the interaction of outside and inside circum-stances.HOLI AS A "MODEL OF" AND "FOR" CULTURE Geertz (1973:113-14, 123) identifies cultural per-formances as functioning at two levels. As "models of whatthey [participants] believe" performances are "presentationsof a particular . . . perspective," or "conceptions of theworld, the self, and the relations between them." As"models for the believing of it" performances are "enact-ments, materializations, realizations of" that perspective.Yuva's celebration serves as a "model of" Indianculture in that it is an expression of members' interpreta-tions of it. At the same time, preparing for the event andparticipating in it is a "model for" engaging in Indo-Canadian culture (Geertz 1973:87-125).At one level of analysis, youth organizers of Holiconsider their celebration to be "a very good way of showingculture" (TT-9). This corresponds with Milton Singer's con-1:INTRODUCTION 54ceptualization of cultural performance which his "Indianfriends" "could exhibit to visitors and to themselves" andin which they "thought of their culture as encapsulated"(Singer 1972:71). As one Yuva member explained, "it givesthem [audience] a little more sense of the culture" (TT-4).Geertz (1973:21) argues that a thick description ofsuch an event can provide a "wall-sized culturescape" froman "ethnographic miniature." As such, a celebration is areflection of cultural values, ideals, role definitions, andsocial relations (cf. Manning 1983; Warner 1959). By inter-preting the event, one can gain "access to the conceptualworld in which our subjects live" (Geertz 1973:24). InChapters Five and Six, I will use Yuva's Holi celebration asa point from which to draw out patterns and discuss broaderissues. Interviews which I conducted, and observations ofand participation in other Indian activities will augment myanalysis of the event itself.In his insightful account of a Balinese cock fight,Geertz (ibid:412-53) places the subjects in the role ofexperiencing the event and the anthropologist in the role of"reading" or interpreting the event as text. A limitationof the analysis is that Geertz is not explicit about theextent to which each may share in the activity of the other,how the roles of experiencing and interpreting may interact,or the processes by which the event is constructed.1:INTRODUCTION 55This leads me to introduce another level of analysisinto the examination of Yuva's production of a Holi celebra-tion. The event exemplifies an interpretation and a "re-presenting" (Carey 1989) of that interpretation. Careyargues for a synthesis of what he calls a "ritual" and a"transmission" view of communication. Such an approachwould examine concurrently the content of expressive forms,their relationship to society, and the processes by and cir-cumstances in which they are produced. My examination ofHoli will include the planning of the event, the eventitself, and subsequent comments about it.GENDERThis is not a feminist study in the sense of beingresearch beginning with a problem defined by women ordesigned for women (Harding 1987:8). It does, however,attempt to elicit both women's and men's perspectives andcategories, to ascribe them as such where significant, toidentify the roles both men and women play, and (in"Constructions of Gender" in Chapter Six) to describe a gen-dered experience and construction of culture (cf. Harding1987).1:INTRODUCTION 56THESIS LIMITATIONSHaving set forth my theoretical and substantiveframework, this section specifies limitations of this dis-sertation.First, my methods do not allow me to identify indi-viduals who reject Indian identity, who do not participatein Indian cultural activities or who avoid association withIndians. Respondents are chosen on the basis of observableparticipation in identifiable Indian activities. It followsthat I cannot determine variables which are related toassertions or rejections of Indian identity. Specifically,I have not studied youth who do not participate in Yuvaeither because they do not know about it, do not choose toparticipate, or are prevented from doing so.My data suggests three explanations for ignoring,avoiding, or rejecting Indian culture: 1) embarrassment,experiences of prejudice, peer pressure, reaction againstparental pressure, or a desire to "be as normal [i.e. fitinto the mainstream] as [they] possibly can" (TT-16) (see"Experiences of Racial Prejudice and Hostility" in ChapterFour); 2) lack of encouragement; having grown up in a familywho do not encourage strong adherence to Indian values orpractices. This occurs in some families when parents are sopleased to see that their children are becoming Westernizedthat they encourage it to the extent of ignoring or dis-1:INTRODUCTION 57couraging interest in Indian culture. 3) lack of exposure;some children spend their formative years in locations wherethere is no strong Indian community and neither they northeir parents have continued exposure to Indian culture.A second limitation relates to a question of practi-cal as well as academic interest, one often asked byIndians, 'Will Indian culture survive in Vancouver (or otherIndian Diasporas)?' My approach in this thesis negates thisquestion in that Indian culture is seen to be an ongoing andchanging product of socially constructed knowledge. My datadoes not allow me to predict to what extent future gener-ations will continue to assert Indian identity, or in whatmanner language, religious beliefs, or particular customswill continue to be adhered to by future generations ofIndians overseas. The concluding chapter will, however,suggest some immediate consequences and hypotheses about thefuture.Another aspect of this second limitation, related tosurvival and change, is the question of authenticity of cul-ture, rendered bogus by the constructivist approach which Iam taking (cf. Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983; Rushdie 1991:66-7).Questions of authenticity could only make sense in com-parison with a static, objective, and homogeneous culture inIndia. But culture in India itself is culturally, socially,and geographically diverse. Cultural transformations takel:INTRODUCTION 58place both in India and its diasporas, and are out of stepwith each other in complex and unpredictable ways. Forexample, is "traditional Indian culture" that which nolonger exists in India but survives in a kind of fossilizedform in its diasporas? Is that more or less "authentic"than, say, what exists in contemporary Delhi or Bombay?What meaning can "traditional," "modern" and "authentic"have where the latest saris and Punjabi suits desired byfashionable Indian women are also viewed as "traditional"Indian dress. 37This is not to say that participants do not judgeaspects of cultural reproduction overseas to be authentic orunauthentic. Such evaluations, however, are themselvesbased on constructions of an India and Indian culture of theimagination (Ghosh 1989), on "conscious models" of selvesand others (Ward 1965), and on reference group identifica-tion. At the same time, insiders also recognize that changeis a necessary characteristic of culture when they makestatements such as, "The culture won't change [i.e. be lost]completely. It might enrich itself because then there'll benew ones [immigrants] coming in, always pumping ideas . . .India itself today has become very modern" (TT-5).37Ames and Inglis (1973-74) describe how the Sikhsin their study sharply distinguish between modernization andWesternization. Bendix (1967) provides a detailed critiqueof the concepts of tradition and modernity.1:INTRODUCTION 59A third question which lies beyond the subject ofthis thesis is the extent to which Indians have the power toenforce their own constructions in society at large. I donot remain unaware that Indo-Canadians have a major struc-tural, i.e. racial, differentiating characteristic. 38Imbalances of power between minority racial and culturalgroups and the dominant society are justifiably a major con-cern of analysts of ethnicity, and one of its most urgentpractical problems (Dahlie and Fernando 1981). An emphasison self definition and agency does not, however, denyimbalances of power. Such a focus examines the role whichindividuals play within their limiting and enabling circum-stances (Giddens 1984:169-79). 39 This dissertation investi--38Bolaria and Li (1988:7) argue against the"inability of assimilation theories and other transplantedcultural theses to account for many racial phenomena."Parmar (1982) and Srivastava and Ames (1989) also argue thatcultural theories do not adequately account for enforcedconceptual and actual segregation of peoples of colour.39See Abner Cohen (1980, 1982), Khare (1984), andManning (1983) for examples of symbolic identity-makingactivity for political ends.Khare (1984; cf. Appadurai 1986a) argues, in rela-tion to the ideologically and practically deprived and sub-ordinated untouchables of India, that symbolization and rep-resentation of identity is an important step in the largerpractical problem of deprivation and subordination."Anthropological procedures . . . have to examine not onlythe dominant social viewpoint, but also the countervailing,the spontaneous, and the resurgent. . . . Such a perspectivedemands . . . that we examine carefully the indigenousschemes of cultural categorization, construction, and inter-pretation" (Khare 1984:7). He explains that he examinestheir cultural arguments in their own terms, even if theyare based on conflict, reaction, myth, and are logicallyimperfect (ibid:l4). This is not to imply that the versions1:INTRODUCTION 60gates initiative and action in the context of constraintsand opportunities, and evaluations by respondents of thedegree to which their circumstances are constraining or ena-bling.of subordinates are more "correct" or "true," but that theyneed to be heard. They 1) perhaps more closely reflect theexperience of the subjects, 2) provide an alternative ideol-ogy or world view, and 3) represent steps toward eventualtransformations.61Chapter 2METHODOLOGYIN THE FIELDWhere does one begin fieldwork in one's own cityamong a large, diverse, and geographically scattered popula-tion?Not at the beginning, for there is no beginning,end, or middle. Even if one were to choose some calendricalbeginning, what would it be? The Hindu New Year in Octoberor November? The one in February or March? The Julian NewYear on January first? An administrative new year in Sep-tember after Labour Day? In any case, these would only givea false sense of absolute beginning.The best way to begin seemed to be as an immigrantto a new community: at the present moment by simply showingup and making one's presence known, finding out what goeson, and making some acquaintances. One place where newlyarrived Hindus to the Lower Mainland find their way is theVishva Hindu Parishad, Vancouver's first and well estab-2:METHODOLOGY 62lished Hindu temple (hereafter referred to as the V.H.P. ).40It promotes cultural activities and maintains links withother organizations.I phoned the V.H.P. to find out its schedule ofprayer meetings and pujas. Then with eager anticipation ofactually getting into "the field" I went there one Sundaymorning. I did not enter entirely without any foreknowledgeor contacts. During the previous four years I hadresearched two papers, one on Indian dance and another onthe celebration of Diwali. These had given me knowledgeabout some Indian activities, introduced me to individuals,and indicated to me a role played by the V.H.P. in thecultural life of Indo-Canadians. 41That first Sunday I entered self-consciously, surethat my presence as the only "white" visitor, dressed inWestern clothing, and a woman alone, would draw curious,perhaps even disapproving, stares. As I was to discoverthis does not happen. Opinions and curiosity both remainedwell disguised as indifference.I also found that education is highly valued. Thefact that I was undertaking a doctoral program appeared to"For a description of the V.H.P. see Buchignani etal. (1985:190), and Wood (1980).41Large temple complexes in India have also playedroles as educational and artistic centres (Ismail 1984).2:METHODOLOGY 63command some respect and admiration and gave me somelegitimacy. The fact that I am a woman undertaking this wasnever openly questioned. I found, however, that peopleusually assumed that I was not married. When they realizedthat I had a husband and children I invariably sensed atangible relief followed by genuine pleasure and show ofinterest. I learned to let people know early on that I hada family. I was grateful that my husband quite willinglyaccompanied me occasionally to the temple or otheractivities.The prayer room is free of furniture except for ashort bench against the back wall. I sat down cross-leggedon the thick, soft, red carpet and looked around, furtivelyjotting down initial impressions: the carefully adornedmurtis; sparkling chandeliers; women dressed in brilliantlycolored and gracefully draped saris; the division betweenmen and women on opposite sides of the large room; and smallchildren running laughingly back and forth between theirmothers, fathers, and older siblings.I also noticed things such as the wall hanging--mysteriously of Indonesian batik--with a loose, droopingcorner, and a Christmas garland framing a picture but onlyreaching half way around. These things I quickly stoppednoticing, as apparently did regular worshipers. I hadjotted down a note to myself to see when the loose hanging2:METHODOLOGY 64would be fixed. It was, four months later, when a CBC crewcame to film a television documentary on Hinduism. Thehalf-framing garland remained. The Indonesian batiks dis-appeared two years later when the whole room underwentrenovations and painting.It is such apparent disinterest in these kinds ofdetail, perhaps even more than something like the worship ofmortis, which seems puzzling to our European sensibilities.Perhaps it is part of the same sensibilities which are notconcerned about tall ladders being dragged in right during aprayer meeting in order to prepare for the videotaping of achildren's performance; or a pujari discussing the procedurefor a complex puja during its execution and asking the wor-shipers if everything seems ready for the next step. Timeand again I have noticed that, in a variety of ways, stagingand performance are not distinctly separated from productionor life around.My purpose here is not to provide a full descriptionof the V.H.P. in terms of the setting, proceedings,participants, and interactions. This could form the subjectof a thesis in itself. I only wish here to briefly outlinehow I made a beginning.The morning continued with what I came to recognizeas a typical sequence. 42 After the informal singing of42This Sunday prayer meeting format appears to betypical in Hindu temples in Great Britain as well (Bowen2:METHODOLOGY 65bhajans, the priest gives a katha, a religious story andlecture, usually relating to the Gita. This lasts about anhour. The children and instructors from the Ganesh schoolupstairs came down to hear at least the end of his lecture.The prayer meeting ends with arti. Announcements are thenmade. Finally devotees line up for prasad, or blessed food,handed out by the priest. Afterwards most of the congrega-tion make their way downstairs for priti bhojan, avegetarian meal. 43A practical problem which presented itself from thebeginning was how I could be "in the field" when my familyand colleagues could clearly see that I was still at homeand at the university, and when many of my relationships,personal responsibilities, and daily activities did notchange?Even after arranging my life to be in the fieldsimultaneously as at home, what about the attitudes ofrespondents toward me? I am to them neither a stranger intheir land to be guided along, nor a guest to be brought in.I am a fellow citizen, albeit one with different birthplace,1981; Kanitkar 1982; Jackson 1982; Knott 1987).43Havan, or fire ritual, is also performed oncertain occassions. How often and with what degree ofelaboration depends on the leaning of the priest. Those whoconsider themselves Arya Samaj tend to put more emphasis onhavan.2:METHODOLOGY 66skin colour, religious orientation, and tastes. At the endof a visit I have my own home to go to and do not need anyhelp becoming adjusted to life here (although I did, in thecourse of research, receive occasional, gentle instructionson how to behave properly in a Hindu context. For example,I learned how to do arti, take prasad with the right hand,dress in a sari for special festival or ritual occasions,and not arrive too early for private functions).I needed some strategies to deal with these problemsand to gain a place for myself which would allow intensiveethnographic research. 44I explained my project to the President of theV.H.P., whom I knew previously. He subsequently introducedme and my project during the announcements at a Sundayprayer meeting. I began by attending the temple everySunday, where I never failed to meet someone new, have theopportunity to talk with someone I had already met, seesomething new, witness an event, or find out some informa-tion. I went so regularly that new acquaintances began totease me about being a better Hindu than themselves. Later,when I became more familiar with the comings and goings atthe temple and became a regular participant, I ironically44Whittaker (1986) describes the adventures and dif-ficulties of entering a "field," identifying suitablecandidates for one's subjects, and producing anthropologicalknowledge out of everyday experience.2:METHODOLOGY 67felt more comfortable about occasionally missing a Sunday,arriving late, or leaving early. This is what most peopledo. A few "hard core" members attend regularly everySunday. Even fewer, perhaps thirty individuals, arriveearly enough to sing bhajans.Ultimately the V.H.P. turned out not to be as cen-tral to the lives of most individuals as I had at firstimagined, nor is it the only centre. Many people whom Isubsequently came to know rarely or never went there.Nevertheless, going there did give me a regular connectionand some sense of belonging to a community. It was an ideallocation in which to meet people who had this as a shared,if sometimes tenuous, link, and from which to form socialconnections out into other spheres of Indian life.I also joined the India Music Society and attendedconcerts to learn more about the Indian arts. I tried toattend as many functions as I could find out about and findtime for, including Gujarati Navratri celebrations, BengaliDurga Pujas, V.H.P. Diwali Cultural Evenings, and so on.Such a goal produced the inevitable accompanying frustrationof missing events, either through conflicting times, my ownpersonal responsibilities, finding out about them too late,or speaking to someone in one room and missing the event inanother. Even so, people began to comment on my beingeverywhere.2:METHODOLOGY 68These strategies helped me to get to know people, toallow them to get to know me, and to outline the frameworkof Indian cultural organization in Vancouver. After a fewmonths, however, I realized that I was only seeing thesuperficial, public side of life. Ironically I realizedthis when my husband and I were recognized and ushered tothe special guest section at a couple of performances. Wewere pleased and honoured. As guests we were treated well--not just tolerated but actively welcomed. But as an out-sider I was being shown and told about the public face ofthe community (cf. Berreman 1962). I could not do the workI had undertaken as a special guest.I did not have access to the backstage of meetings,rehearsals, informal gatherings, decision making sessionsand home activities. Much of what I was interested in wasnot being hidden from me, but such things were not perceivedas being of interest. One early exception was an invitationto attend a decorating party for a major festival. I waswarmly welcomed and encouraged to feel a part of the group,but not asked to help.The solution to this helped me with my commitment togiving something back to the community (cf. Gill 1988;McCurdy 1981). I have attempted, with some inevitable over-sights, to be meticulous about reciprocating on an ongoingbasis. It had already begun in small ways, some of which2:METHODOLOGY 69insiders do: helping make puris for priti bhojan in theV.H.P. kitchen, bringing something when invited to someone'shome, responding to requests to take a photograph when Ihave my camera handy, providing prints of photographs,paying offerings at the temple, and writing an article for anewsletter. But something more significant seemed to berequired.The solution was to offer my services, since allorganizations are run by volunteers. I undertook threejobs: assisting the editor of the V.H.P. in producing thenewsletters and Souvenirs (which led to a suggestion thatperhaps I might like to run for editor, which I declined),assisting the cultural coordinator of the Holi Cultural Eve-ning, and becoming a board member of the India MusicSociety. This gave me access to at least certain kinds ofbackstage activities, demonstrated a commitment, fosteredsome closer relationships on the basis of common interests,and allowed me to make myself useful.Beyond the surface facade of public events andorganized activities, I depended on individuals tovoluntarily choose to invite me to private events and theirhomes. This happened only selectively and gradually, givingme the sense that at the time I "completed" fieldwork(fieldwork no more has a definite ending than beginning), Ihad really only begun to get to know people and to feel2:METHODOLOGY 70accepted in the community. This awareness contributed to mydecision to focus on public events and activities.I came to a deeper understanding of the meaning offieldwork. The field is not a location, nor is fieldwork anactivity. Fieldwork is a state of mind which frames ageographic or social area as "the field." It is a state ofsuspension of disbelief, inquiry and curiosity, observationand thoughtfulness, and a certain sense of detachment, evenduring the most participatory participation.I carried on intensive participant observationresearch between July 1990 and September 1991. During thattime I attended over seventy events including formal per-formances and events, Sunday prayer meetings, religiouscelebrations, family gatherings and meetings. I conductedthirty-eight formal open-ended interviews with fifty indi-viduals, twenty-one of them taped and transcribed. I alsoconducted two taped group discussions involving elevenyouth, which I also transcribed.One respondent gave me some advice. He explainedthat others had studied the community, gotten what theyneeded, and dropped out of sight. He gently suggested thatit would be a very good idea to remain in touch. I havetaken his advice seriously and continue to attend functionsas time permits, and to stay in touch with individuals.This is not merely a duty, as my husband and I have formed2:METHODOLOGY^71friendships we value. One is, however, torn betweenacademic and personal responsibilities, and the time pres-sures of widening one's social circle while being a fulltime student. The balance becomes increasingly difficult asthe exigencies of analysis and writing encroach on thefieldwork and social aspects. 45 A positive side is that Iwas able to retain a fresh perspective on activities rightup until the final writing stages, and was able toincorporate new information as it occurred.METHODSINTERVIEWS AND PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION Modern urban lives, my own and those of Indians inVancouver, are fractured and hectic. Doing research in anurban setting requires a good deal of racing across townfrom one interview to another, from one event to another.This duplicates in some ways the pace of lives of the sub-jects themselves who must scurry between work and personalactivities, and between the many social and cultural engage-ments and obligations spread around a city as large as Van-couver.45Harrell-Bond (1986) discusses the difficulties ofhandling continuing obligations and large numbers of rela-tionships which develop during fieldwork (cf. Gill 1988).2:METHODOLOGY 72The frenetic pace of trying to cover many culturalactivities is not just a methodological difficulty, but isin itself a form of ethnographic participation. It mirrorsthe experiences of working parents who valiantly enabletheir children to take part in a variety of activities,including Indian cultural activities such as dance classesand show rehearsals, while themselves trying to fulfill thesocial and community responsibilities typically expected ofIndian adults (Bhagat and Kedia 1986:144).This hectic lifestyle affected the amount and typeof data which I could collect. I found that I could notentirely control the depth, comprehensiveness, or logicalconsistency of my research. Without greater forcefulnessand audacity to impose than I was able or willing to muster,I could not, for example, obtain interviews with all membersof selected families, as I had originally planned. I wasalways very conscious of imposing myself on their leisuretime, of which many so generously gave. Work or schoolpressures (with which, as a student myself, I could fullysympathize); heavy volunteer obligations; family and socialobligations; holidays and celebrations; and frequent,extended, and often unexpected trips to India prevented theconsistent kinds of follow-up which I had hoped to obtain.""Sharma (1991:86) refers to the difficulty ofscheduling time with students.2:METHODOLOGY 73In arranging interviews, some people wereimmediately prepared to spend time with me. Others set up atentative date for some weeks ahead and postponed it severaltimes before the actual meeting was able to take place.Often a key respondent would go out of town--sometimes onshort notice and most often for a lengthy trip to India--because of illness in the family, for a wedding, or just tovisit relatives and travel--and interviews would again bepostponed.I followed Mishler's (1986) approach to interview-ing, which allows for the interactive construction of knowl-edge between interviewer and respondent in unstructured andnon-directive sessions with open-ended questions.Categories and problems were allowed to emerge from theresearch and to be continually refined throughout theresearch process (Blumer 1969; Glaser, Strauss 1967).I began interviews by introducing myself and outlin-ing the kinds of things in which I was interested. Fromthere I allowed the discussion to flow, allowing the inter-views and observations to guide further questions andcategories.I began some of my early interviews with a simplegenealogy and family history. But often this questioningtook the better part of an entire interview, leaving littletime to pursue more pertinent questions. I began to omit2:METHODOLOGY 74this line of questioning from the beginning of interviews asthis kind of information would only be useful if I could beguaranteed a subsequent interview.At other times, I started interviews with a briefoutline of my research interests and then began with adirect question about how much the respondent had beeninvolved in Indian activities, or asking some specific ques-tions about an organization in which I knew they wereactive. Personal experiences, feelings, ideas, and percep-tions usually followed. Occasionally I interjected to askfor clarification, to comment, or to ask a related question.These interviews have proven to be rich sources ofinformation. They contain a wealth of references to thingswhich reflect a perspective or way of looking at things,terms brought up by respondents and which have meaning tothem, and topics which they introduced. Questions raisedlead to further observations and questions.A variety of interview formats were used, includingformal, informal, group, individual, and discussion. Sometook place at pre-arranged times for that specific purpose.These were taped with the permission of respondents, none ofwhom refused. Some did from time to time take me up on mysuggestion that they ask me to press the pause button ifthey wanted to say something which they did not wantrecorded. Some questions were asked informally during2:METHODOLOGY 75social events or visits. I made notes on these immediatelyafterwards. The location varied between public places, therespondents' homes, and my own home.Throughout the research period, I augmented my"immersion" by reading South Asian literature, news media,promotional materials, and other relevant publications; andby listening to South Asian television and radio programs.Documents such as community newspapers, temple newsletters,and performance programs gave me insights into interests,activities and participants.Most of my field notes, as well as tape transcrip-tions, were entered onto computer. From observations, read-ing through field notes and transcriptions, and listening totaped interviews, I was able to identify recurring themes.Computer technology allowed me to search themes and clustersof related terms which I could compile for analysis.GROUP DISCUSSIONSOne important component of my research data derivesfrom two group discussions which I initiated with the sup-port of the Yuva council. One of the Yuva council membersorganized two meetings at his home. One included two youngmen and four young women, and the other three of each, allbetween the ages of sixteen and twenty-three. At myrequest, he arranged groups made up of individuals from the2:METHODOLOGY 76Yuva members list whom he knew to have diverse religious,linguistic, geographic, and socio-economic backgrounds. Thetwo discussions included Gujarati, Bengali, and Hindi speak-ing Hindu; Jain; and Sikh young people.All the council members, clearly committed topromoting youth interactions and activities, were interestedin taking part in these discussions. Since, however, one ofcouncil's aims was to involve some of the less active Yuvamembers, each discussion included no more than one or twocouncil members.I gave each participant a simple agenda and outlineof suggested topics based both on my interests and on themeswhich had surfaced in individual conversations as being ofconcern to them. At each meeting, I outlined this broadagenda and emphasized that I would not be leading the dis-cussion or following a predetermined list of questions. Iencouraged them to carry the discussion themselves. I wouldonly interrupt with the occasional question or to move thediscussion forward if need be.The host introduced the project. The following isan excerpt from the introduction to the second discussion:. . . the session can go any way we all want it to gobut the basis of it is, 'What is Indian culture?' andwhat it means to us. And we're doing this for tworeasons. The first reason is because of Evelyn'sresearch [elaborates] . . . And the second reason isthat we feel that Yuva should get more involved withthese sort of activities. We've been a very social and2:METHODOLOGY 77recreational sort of group . . . and we want to get moreinto doing these sort of cultural things. . . . And it'salso so that our members feel that they're participatingin our group, more than just coming to our dances. . . .It's a two hour discussion, it's very informal, verycasual, you're free to say whatever you want. That'swhat happened last time. . . .^(TT-Y2)Participants were then asked to introduce them-selves, giving their own name, age, birthplace, school orwork status, religion, and languages spoken. They also gavethe birthplace, date of immigration to Canada, language, andreligious affiliations of their parents; the number and agesof their siblings; and reasons why they had agreed to jointhe discussion.In each case, I opened with a question whichresponded to one of the introductory comments. In thefirst, after comments about a growing interest in Indianactivities, I suggested, "Maybe we could start with that.Why is this so important now?" The first response was:I think it has to do with self-awareness, to know whoyou are and where you come from, to feel more confidentwhen you go to the mainstream society, so you don't feelconfused, you don't have an identity crisis. And Ithink also that it hits you at a certain age, when youget out of high school, when you get a little bit older,then you start asking questions like, 'Who am I?' (TT-Y1)In the second group, one introductory comment was:Even though we might for a non-Indian seem to be thesame--we're all Indians--we're all quite differentbecause our upbringings are quite different. We havedifferent attitudes now because of the way we've beenbrought up. Some are more traditional than others, andsome are more Westernized than others. (TT-Y2)2:METHODOLOGY 78I responded with, "Maybe that's a place we could start, whatIndian culture means to you and your family, and how much ofit you've been brought up with yourself." The initialresponse to that was, "To me Indian culture is divided intoa private life and a public life. . • • " (TT-Y2).From these beginnings, discussion ranged over topicssuch as what comprises Indian culture, who Indo-Canadiansare, identity, attitudes towards Indian culture, experiencesof growing up, experience of racism, attitudes and values(their own, their parents', Indian, "Western"), and multi-culturalism.The discussions, lasting two to two and a halfhours, were taped. I subsequently transcribed the tapes andmade the transcriptions available to participants (with per-sonal details removed, and with the consent ofparticipants). Participants agreed to make the transcrip-tions available to Yuva members. This was done by circulat-ing the information among friends, by making the transcriptsavailable at their next function, and by placing them in a"Yuva library" binder. Participants and council membersexpressed keen interest in reading the transcripts.Other young people expressed to me and to Yuva coun-cil members an interest in taking part in other such discus-sions. More were tentatively planned, but have not taken2:METHODOLOGY 79place, at least in part because of my own and their busyschedules.Asked why they had chosen to take part in this dis-cussion, responses were broad statements similar to the fol-lowing:I'm always interested in Indo-Canadian issues. I thinkit affects all of our futures. It's important. (TT-Y1)To promote these sort of things within our group. AlsoI'm quite interested in this topic. . . . to see thedifferent ways we've all been brought up and how we'vesort of changed and how some people stay the same andsome have changed a lot. (TT-Y1). . . so I can have a better understanding of whatother people feel about their culture and how they couldassimilate with Western ideals as well. (TT-Y2)Some of the participants were already highlyinvolved in organizations and activities. Others were more -tentative. At the end of the discussions, all of them com-mented on how much they enjoyed it and how valuable it hadbeen to them. Council members viewed it as a catalyst forsomething they wanted to do more of. A Yuva Youth Forum inthe summer of 1991 was a direct result of these discussions.I talked about the interest in these discussionswith three social service workers, and informally withrespondents. Some reasons were posited for the interest.One is the dynamics in Indian families of hierarchicalauthority, and priority of group over individual rights.The participants admitted that for themselves or their2:METHODOLOGY 80friends, communication with their parents is often not freeand open.Secondly, participants in the discussions indicatedthat cultural issues and the bicultural dilemmas they faceare not topics which come up in conversations with friends,either Indian or non-Indian. Consequently, individualsoften judge their experiences to be unique, not realizingthat they are widely shared. Social workers at MOSAIC,OASIS, and Surrey-Delta Immigrant Services have noted to methat, in their experience, Indo-Canadian youth are for thesereasons ready to jump at opportunities to organize and dis-cuss common issues. Those who are too shy to express them-selves at least like to be able to hear what others have tosay (I-1; 1-2).INTERVENTIONIn my role as researcher I have not remained animpartial observer. Complete non-intervention is not pos-sible or even necessarily desirable (Rynkiewich 1981). Bymerely being present and interacting with people, the fieldworker becomes part of her subjects' realities. In anycase, in the urban context, subject and analyst are not dis-tinctly separated. Respondents are educated, selfreflexive, and think critically. The youth are students,and some of them have taken social science courses.2:METHODOLOGY 81At a personal level, at the first few Yuva meetings,I quietly sat and took notes. The meetings carried onapparently as if I were not present. (I asked two councilmembers about this afterwards, and they could not think ofany way of which they were consciously aware in which mypresence altered the meetings.) From time to time I wasasked my opinion about an event I had attended. I describedpersonal reactions while attempting to refrain from advisingor passing judgement.Increasingly, I felt a responsibility to share someof the information and ideas which I had gained with thosewho were clearly interested in similar issues. The effectof my presence became particularly obvious when my requestfor a discussion group was enthusiastically taken on by theYuva council as a joint project. At that moment I became,as one of the participants later said, "a catalyst." Giventhat my presence and activities were in any case effectingthe situation I was in, I decided that what was importantwas not the impact of my presence, but to note reactions toand consequences of my influence as one of many (Hammersleyand Atkinson 1982:15). I comment on this where applicablethroughout this thesis.One form of active intervention was in providinginformation in the form of written materials and referenceswhich I thought might be of interest and which I felt a2:METHODOLOGY 82responsibility to share. I also found myself increasinglybecoming a carrier of information about community events,since I attended a wider range of activities, and was incontact with a wider circle of people, than most communitymembers.A second form of active intervention was to makesuggestions from time to time about possible activities, asI became more familiar with the problems and needs of Indo-Canadian youth and the goals of Yuva council members. Onesuggestion was to supplement an existing collection of Yuvaphoto albums, minutes, and newsletters with a "Yuva Library"to which I would submit copies of the transcripts of discus-sion groups, copies of my papers, and copies of any otherinformation which I thought might be of use or interest tothem. This idea arose from the enthusiastic interest ofYuva council members who had not taken part in the discus-sions, in knowing more about the topics discussed and askingto read the transcripts.A second suggestion, made more as a comment in pass-ing, was that since it seemed as if the discussions couldeasily extend well past the two hours if it were not forother time commitments, they might want to consider aretreat. (India Club organizes an annual retreat for memberfamilies). That idea was immediately taken up. A committeewas formed to organize a one-day workshop which became the2:METHODOLOGY 83Yuva Youth Forum. The discussion transcripts were used tohelp determine topics for discussion.A third suggestion also came out of an observationin the discussion groups that youth of different backgroundscelebrated different festivals and religious events andoften had not heard of, much less attended, those of others.I suggested the possibility of organizing group "fieldtrips" to each others' events. This was not received asenthusiastically. Informal invitations were extended duringone of the discussions for others to attend the GujaratiSociety's Navratri celebrations. Otherwise, to my knowl-edge, nothing has been formally arranged. (Implications ofthis will be further discussed in "A Talent Show" in ChapterFive.)A third form of intervention was the discussiongroups themselves. Some council members indicated that theywould like to continue with them, even when I no longerwished to take part. In the May 1991 issue of theirnewsletter, the Yuva Yakker, the editor wrote an articleabout "Yuva 'Indian Culture' discussion groups," encouraginginterested members to participate.Presuming to speak for others is both anepistemological and ethical problem in Anthropology(Clifford and Marcus 1986; Fox 1991; Geertz 1983, 1988;Rabinow 1977; Whittaker 1986). I have made drafts of my2:METHODOLOGY 84written work accessible to respondents and have attempted togenerate some interactive responses to my work (cf. Cruik-shank 1990; Light and Kleiber 1981). This has so far notbeen successful among adults. Not many read it, and thosewho do are, I speculate, either too busy or too polite tocomment.Some Yuva members read a draft of a paper (Nodwell1993 <in press>) and transcripts of the Yuva group discus-sions. All who responded expressed that these echoed theirown experiences, some of which they had not been aware thatothers shared.On one occasion I had made a copy of my paper onyouth available at a Yuva meeting. Participants wereimmediately keen to see if they appeared in the quotations.Some comments caught their eye, and a short, elucidatingdiscussion ensued.ADDENDUMAt the time of writing (summer 1993) I have dis-cussed plans to have another group discussion with Yuva mem-bers in which they could respond to this dissertation. Anumber of members have expressed interest in doing this. Ihave provided one or two copies of the dissertation whichhave been circulated among Yuva members. Responses andobservations will be written up in a subsequent paper.2:METHODOLOGY 85I hope also to organize a group of parents for asimilar discussion on the dissertation.PART II: ETHNOGRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS AND OBSERVATIONS8687Chapter 3ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT: IMMIGRATION AND COMMUNITYThis chapter:1. outlines the history of immigration of Indians toCanada;2. narrates a selection of personal experiences of aboutimmigration to Canada and settlement;3. provides a demographic profile of Indians and Indianorganizations in Vancouver;4. describes members' notions of community;5. describes "The Family Friends Circle," to which thecore Yuva members belong;6. discusses the continuing importance of extended fam-ily networks.Indian populations in Canada can only be estimatedfrom Canadian census reports (Wood 1978:551). 47 Data can bederived from several non-exclusive, overlapping categories.•"Ethnic origin" is determined by responses to the question,"To which ethnic or cultural group(s) did this person'sancestors belong?" (Statistics Canada 1993a:233). "Mothertongue" is somewhat indicative, although Punjabi is the onlySouth Asian language which appears as a non-official lan-47Census categories, in any case, must be viewedcritically (Porter 1975; Whittaker 1988) because of thereifying work which census taking does.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 88guage choice. Furthermore, many South Asians who haveimmigrated from other English speaking countries, as well asthose born in Canada, may claim English as their mothertongue (Puri 1992). A third category, "religion,"determined every ten years, is also relevant.According to the 1991 census, 420,295 Canadians(1.56%), 103,545 (3.19%) British Columbians, and 75,430(4.8%) residents of the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area(CMA) are of "South Asian origins" ("Bengali," "Gujarati,""Punjabi," "Singhalese," "Tamil," "Bangladeshi," "EastIndian," "Pakistani," and "Sri Lankan") (Statistics Canada1993a). 48 In B.C., 18,140 residents claim to be Hindu and74,550 to be Sikh (Statistics Canada 1993b). In the Van-couver CMA, 14,880 residents claim to be Hindu, and 49,625to be Sikh. 49 This means that approximately 66% of the Van-couver CMA's South Asian population are Sikh, 20% Hindu, andthe remaining 15% Ismaili, Muslim, Jain, Christian,Buddhist, and Parsi. Ismailis and other South Asian Muslimsare not specifically accounted for, as they are included in48The 1991 census includes non-permanent residentswho have employment or student status. This likely accountsfor some of the increase in numbers since the 1986 census.49These figures may include a small number of con-verted or "gora" ("white") Sikhs (see Dusenbery 1990), and asmall number of converted Hindus--this is not common--orHindus of South East Asian origin.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 89the category of "Islam." 5° Vancouver's South Asian popula-tion includes over two hundred Gujarati families, over fiftyeach Bengali and Maharashtrian, and smaller numbers of otherSouth Asian cultural groups.IMMIGRATION AND SETTLEMENTHISTORICAL CONTEXT OF HINDUS IN VANCOUVER 51K.N. Sharma (1993) has outlined four waves ofemigration from India (see also Atal 1989; Burghart 1987c;Jain 1989; S.L. Sharma 1989; Tinker 1977). In the second tofifth centuries A.D., Indians journeyed to Southeast Asia.In the second wave, indentured labourers went to SoutheastAsia, Africa, and the Caribbean Islands. The third wave sawimmigration to Europe and North America. The first migrantsof this group, in the early part of this century, werelabourers and farmers, primarily from the Punjab, whosettled all along the West coast of North America. In the1950's, and peaking in the 1960's, trained professionals,50Dossa (1985) estimates that "at present, it isestimated that out of the total population of about 20,000Ismailis in Canada, about 9000 Ismailis live in BritishColumbia, with the largest number located in the greaterVancouver area.51Buchignani et al. (1985)Indian immigration to Canada. SeeSrivastava (1974:375-6), and Wakilal. (1975) on Ugandans; BuchignaniD'Costa (1989) and Fernando (1979)document the history ofalso Ramcharan (1984),(1981:930-32); Bristow et(1977) on Fijians; andon Ismailis in Canada.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 90students, and businessmen emigrated to Britain or NorthAmerica. This last wave of migration is the one into whichthe families in this dissertation fall.Before the mid 1960's, with a few exceptions,immigrants from India to Vancouver came primarily from thePunjab as labourers (Buchignani et al. 1985). With changesin Canada's immigration policies, an influx of immigrants ofIndian origin arrived in Canada in the late 1960's and early1970's. In Vancouver, those directly from India, mostlyHindus this time, were primarily graduate students andprofessionals. Others, primarily Gujarati speaking Hindusand Ismailis, came from Africa where they or their parentshad moved as migrant labourers, business people, or teachers(Bristow et al. 1975). Many of these had been ousted fromUganda by Idi Amin in 1972, or had felt repercussions inTanzania, Kenya, and Zambia.The adult respondents of this dissertation are amongthose who immigrated to Canada on independent class in the1960's and 1970's (and a few in the 1950's). They came withyoung children or as newlyweds with no children. Now, about20 years later, a cohort of second generation Hindus arebecoming young adults and teenagers. The beginnings of athird generation is literally just in its infancy.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 91PERSONAL IMMIGRATION NARRATIVES The following narratives were related during inter-views. The speakers all immigrated directly from northIndia (most commonly Delhi or the north eastern state ofUttar Pradesh). 52 The stories illustrate some shared char-acteristics which are also true of others with whom I havespoken who came in similar circumstances (cf. Coelho 1958;Klein et al. 1986).Mrs. Kapoor, age 55-65, is a Hindi speaking Hindu from UttarPradesh (U.P.):My husband came first . . . in 1953 and they were thefirst batch of [professionals] . . . Before that peopleknew about the U.K. or U.S. They never came to Canada.But there was a program, the Government of Canada . . .so he came . . . He didn't know anything about here. Ijoined him about six months later. Because he didn'tknow about the housing, he didn't know about the otherfood things, and at that time they used to pay for soless that it was very hard. So he said, 'Let me see forsix months and then I will try to call you.' . . . Wejust got married at that time and then he came here . .. They didn't even know--people there--about the Indiansand the Indian way of life. It was completely strange.When I came, I didn't used to put the Western dresses oranything on. And I had no idea--I was so young, mindyou--so I had my saris and everyday cotton things, and Iused to wear them. But then I realized--because youknow I came in January, and you have the overshoes on,this and that--so they're not practical, so slowly andgradually I changed it. But what I am saying, when they52Calculated from Canada's 1991 census, 96% of Van-couver's South Asian population falls in the categories of"Bengali," "Punjabi," and "East Indian" (the latter includes"Gujarati") and .2% are "Tamil." ("Sri Lankan" is a sepa-rate category.) In comparison, for example, 77.3% ofToronto's South Asian population falls in the formercategories and 3.7% are "Tamil."3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 92will see me in sari, it was so strange--all the Canadianpeople--that they will look at it. And I know that onceor twice I went in a studio, so they just took my pic-ture in sari because they have never seen a sari . . .People were here in Vancouver, but those were only work-ing class. . . . So that Montreal and Toronto, I think;were the two, or Ottawa three, places that batch of[professionals] came. . . . And we didn't come with theidea of staying here. You see, because my husbandcame--he says he will do his post graduate training andpost graduate degree . . . So he thought that he willstay maybe two years, three years and then we will goback. We never came with the idea--we were just on astudent visa, well you could say the immigrant visa,student visa. So he says, 'Okay, once we are here, whynot complete my training, and then I will take this fel-lowship. . . . And we lived in [another Canadian city]and then we came to Vancouver, in '54, '55 . . . Andthen, we had the children after two, three years, so westayed here five years. . . . So he says, 'We have to goback. So before I go back, we'll go to London . . . andthen from London to India.' So I said, 'Well, you stayhere, and I'm here for a long time, six, seven years, soI should visit my parents and stay with them. . . . inU  P ^So then when I went to India, I stayed six,seven months, and I had two children . . . they werethree and five. So I said, 'I don't know. . . . why notcome back again for a year or two and then we coulddecide. I wrote to him and then I came back in England,and then we decided to come back to Canada. . . . Andthen children got older, they started going to school,and in a way, maybe subconsciously I like Canada becauseI was very, very young when I came here.. . Then weapplied for the immigrant visa . . . we got it '62, '63.. . . You will find that most of the people whom youwill interview or who you already interviewed, theydidn't come with the idea of staying here. Either theycame for the higher education, and then they decided tosettle down here. So this is the way we did it. Wenever thought, because my husband thought--you see, he'sa very nationalistic type of person. He's a Canadiannow and Indian, both the things. But in the beginningpeople just wondered, his friends, how he stayed here .. . We go quite often. We have very close ties withIndia. . . . at least twelve times. Every two years,one year . . . (TT-7, April 1991)Mr. Chand, age 55-65, is a Hindi speaking Hindu from northIndia:3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 93I was raised in a very big city . . . I went to a con-vent school . . . right from age eight . . . Now ourkids' medium of instruction was all English because theyoungest was six years old when we came, the oldest wasI think nine years. Girl was around seven. . . . See,we were in business, we had good education, we had cars,we had motor bikes, we had servants at home. For us,the transition was not that bad. We just came . . .See, I could, Evelyn, just count on my fingertips thefamilies who would have the same age group as our chil-dren. Because most of them had very young children. SoI was sort of considered to be a little older as com-pared to my others. . . . And the older generationwhom--now these people whom I invited the children,their parents had lived here for much longer than--I wasjust a newcomer for them because they came in 1908 or1910. . . . at the time when I came, there were noHindus here. So it was, I came and went to their Sikhtemple, and I went to a lot of effort to build this one[Ross Street Gurdwara]. . . . 1963 I started in the . .. business. (TT-10, May 1991)Mrs. Ghosh, age 45-55, is a Hindi speaking Hindu from NorthIndia:[I think we are pretty] open-minded-- . . . We come froma very urban-- . . . And for instance, my grandfatherused to have asparagus and cheese for breakfast, thirty-five, forty years ago. We used to have Australian Kraftcheese at breakfast time. And my mother's a businesswoman . . . We are a very unusual family. So adapting,coming to Canada and living here wasn't such a bigchange for us as far as a mental adjustment . . . But Idid become more aware of my contribution in keeping theculture alive. Because as it is, I was not a very reli-gious person or very deep rooted in my culture, historyor background, it wasn't that ingrained in me. So Ithought for the first couple of years--you guys lost thelanguage, remember, we didn't speak it at home. Then wewent back to India and they couldn't talk to their rela-tives and it hit me, 'What am I doing?' Then I starteddoing some of those things out of need. We want to beable to talk to our relatives when we go back, andEnglish they'll know, I don't have to harp on theEnglish language, that will come naturally. . . . I wasseventeen and a half years old and then I got married.Marriage was arranged for me, and moved to another partof India . . . till 1973. . . . then I came to Canada,3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 94end of '74. . . . And now, sixteen years later, I'm pur-suing what I want to do with my life . . . And that'sthe reason I never went back to India. I would neverhave any independence there. I would always be some-body's daughter, or somebody's sister, or somebody'ssomething. I wouldn't be myself. . . . But then once .. . the kids were sort of settled in school and doingwell, I think after four years or so, I started thesocial circle I should say, and then got involved withthe temple. I sat on the board of the V.H.P. one year .. . (TT-14, September 1990)Mr. Bindi, age 45-55, is a Hindi speaking Hindu from U.P.:When I came it was not intention to stay here . . . camefor Ph  D ^So one thing led to the other . . . theyoffered me a job . . . Came to Vancouver and U  B C . Then suddenly I felt I wanted to settle down and getmarried, and once that bug bit me I decided to settledown and stay a few months. The job was there, it wasvery well paying job. But somewhere a year later Idecided to look for other alternatives . . . '66 I camehere, took my . . . training, that gave me my need tobecome a student of U.B.C.. . . . So when I settleddown, now came the desire to get married, I was abouttwenty-eight, twenty-seven. By looking at people on^-other side I found that I was not really--deep inside Iwas nothing more than Indian. I am very much Indian.Very much dedicated to Indian culture, Indian food, andIndian people. It wasn't as well formed as it is now,but that time I could see that deep inside my attributespropelled me away from [ 7] ^Whatever I learnedabout the girls here, Caucasian girls, I could see thatthere was tremendous difference at the more intimatelevel. . . . And I think for one year I had pretty openmind, if I ran into somebody here who was the rightkind, I would have married her. . . . And once I gotinto [his profession] it was pretty well determined forme that I wasn't going to go back to India . . . So I--when I got married there, it was reasonably strongarranged marriage--I went back to India and when myparents asked me, 'What's your intention?' I said,'Well, if I run into somebody here that I like, maybeI'll get married.' And I was introduced to three orfour girls, and [his wife] and I, we kind of fittogether. . . . So what happens, I go to India and meetwith her and she says, 'Look, I don't want to live inNorth America. I am prepared to come for a year or two.I'm not coming to stay there. So [his wife] comes. For3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 95a year or two we had tremendous disagreement on . . .whether [his wife]'s going to live here forever . . .And then community started to change. '72 there was abig influx of Indo-Canadians. Suddenly communityexploded. Previously at one time you almost knew every-one in the community, now you didn't. (TT-2, July 1991)Mr. Lal, age 40-50, was born into a Hindu family in a cityin U.P. He applied for a scholarship to a Canadianuniversity to do graduate work there and, to his surprise,got it. After his two years of university, and some time tosee the country, he went back home to India to get married.He wanted to show Canada to his wife, so he brought herhere. She liked it and did not really want to go back.Nevertheless, they did intend to go back sometime. They hada child and once he was in school they finally realized thatthey would not return to India. Mr. Lal misses his family.But in India he could not get the same kind of job which hehas here, or have the same standard of living. They havelived in several other cities in Canada. He elaborates onhis perception of Indian communities in various areas:In the university you had some other students who camefrom the same part and you went out with them sometimes,but that wasn't exclusively Indians. You also went withother graduate students, and went for a beer . . .because you were not that uncomfortable. You didn'thave trouble communicating. . . . When I first camethere was very little Indian cultural activity anywherein '72. But then they started bringing some Hindimovies, so when there's a movie on, once every twomonths, it's a big event and you go there, firstly tosee the movie and secondly to meet everybody that'saround . . . . more and more things . . . mostly in theuniversity theatres, at least in [other Canadian cities]. . . [Vancouver] is different because most immigrants3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 96to Vancouver are from a very small population base inIndia. The biggest base is Sikhs here, from Punjab, andthat is only two percent of the Indian population . . .so it's a very small membership, yet over here they con-stitute ninety percent. So most of the things we seeand assume about India are based on that small two per-cent sample. In other places in Canada, and most of theUnited States, with the exception of maybe Toronto . . .have more of a mix, smaller numbers but from all overIndia. Most of the people who came on merit typeimmigration will come from a broader perspective.People who will come on family class will usually comefrom a small area, because say two families came, andthey brought their brothers, and their relatives, andtheir friends . . . and that's how Vancouver wasdeveloped. . . . In most of the other parts of thecountry people came in mid '60's to say mid 70's. . . .I recall that if somebody said, 'I came here in '63,' hebecame the veteran, the senior most person in the city .. . '65, '68, '70 was the very big years, '68-'70.Whereas in Vancouver, '65 was no big deal. A lot ofpeople came in 1920's and 30's and '40's . . . (TT-12,June 1991)These narratives reveal some shared characteristics.The speakers come from well to do urban families in northIndia and have become well established in Vancouver. Allcame on independent class, leaving extended families behind.(The following section describes how they built socialnetworks.) They spoke English in India. Often the man cameto Canada as a student, returned to India to marry, and cameback to Canada with his bride. Another shared character-istic is that they did not come with an intention of staying(cf. Radermacher 1991). Bhatnagar (1984) refers to this as"the myth of temporary stay in Canada." The arrival ofchildren and the recognition of opportunities in Canadawhich would not be available to them in India finally brings3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 97the realization that they would probably stay. They allspeak about the experience of an intensified consciousnessof being Indian as a result of being overseas and of havingchildren in that context.COMMUNITIESDEFINING "COMMUNITY" 53The respondents of this study constantly use "com-munity" as a flexible concept which reflects members' senseof group in given contexts. In relation to this usage,"culture" is used in a way which represents what AnthonyCohen aptly calls the "symbolic constituents of communityconsciousness" (Cohen 1985:14). I will explore what itmeans to members to speak of "community," describe someinteractions and divisions, and then examine "Indian com-munity." I will then describe the specific community fromwhich Yuva originated and the sense of family on which it isbased.Anthony Cohen (1985:114) suggests that "community""as a mental construct . . . condenses symbolically, andadeptly, its bearers' social theories of similarity and dif-ference." Within the "Indian community" in Vancouver, thereare many theories of similarity and difference. They are53cf. Ortner (1989)3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 98founded on the basis of religion, language, region, customs,caste, family, interest, socio-economic status, and age."Community" serves as a reference group which shifts withcontext (Shibutani 1955).Some communities are constituted on the basis ofascribed qualities of members. This may be religion, suchas "Jain community," "Ismaili community," "Sikh (or "Pun-jabi," which is often used as an equivalent54 ) community,"and "Hindu community."Language is the basis for Gujarati, Bengali, andMaharashtrian communities. In addition to these commondesignations are countless numbers of local designations,such as "from the South," "Marwari" (a linguistically andoccupationally--trade and business--identified group withorigins in Rajasthan), "Kachhi speaking" (from a region inGujarat), and so on.Caste groups are also spoken of as communities. Ina discussion about Gujarati sub-groups, Mrs. Om describes:That way you can be closer to your own. It's just likea big family. Patel is one big family of Patels, Soniis a big family of Soni. Patels are a community.Darjis are also a community. . . . Now we have MochiSamaj. . . . They have their own organization that'svery small here. So they keep in close contact witheach other. (TT-6)540beroi (1988) documents how, from the Sikh pointof view, Punjabi was inscribed as the language of Sikhism,and the Punjab as their land.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 99Apart from Gujaratis, "the Mathur community" publishes listsof Mathur families all over North America. Others certainlyexist.Avocation is also the basis for a sense of communityas in the "business community," "farming community," and"professional community." Individuals also commonly makereference to those who come from an "urban community" or a"rural community."Closeness of interpersonal relationships within acommunity is a valued ideal. In his exposition of the sym-bolic construction of community, Cohen (1985:11-38) rejectsearlier anthropological definitions which equated communitywith social and cultural simplicity and contrasted it tourban life:Community, whether local or ethnic, or in whatever form,need not therefore be seen as an anachronism in urban-industrial society. Rather, it should be regarded asone of the modalities of behaviour available within suchsocieties. (ibid:117) 55It is a "modality of behaviour" within Vancouver's Indiancommunity. For example, the Bengali society is described insuch terms:Mr. A. Mohan: . . . one thing good about a smallcommunity--it's a very small community, a very neat55Ortner (1989:14) argues that "if 'we' are'modern,' and 'they' are 'traditional,' it is not because wedo not have community, but only because we do not have thekind of community that social scientists have thought weought to have".3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 100community, Bengali community--we know . . . eachother. . . . And very cooperative. This is a verygood thing. We are always there for their happiness,as well as, unfortunately, any sorrow, any sad thing.For a big community, it's not possible. . . .Mr. B. Mohan: If there are a hundred people, they mightdivide into three groups. But if it is thirty people,they will not divide. So one person who will be thePresident, he is taking the decision that this year somany functions we want to perform. Everybody maybeagreed.Mr. A. Mohan: Not only that, when you are a small com-munity, you know personally everybody. But if youlive in a place where five thousand people--there it'svery hard to meet each individually. So we know per-sonally. If I heard a news something happened, it'svery easy to contact with the people and find outwhether it's right or wrong, or what's his idea. . . .(TT-8)Community in the sense of close communication links mayexist as an ideal rather than a practical reality. It isanother question whether all members of such a community areequally well informed.Large size or growth is posited by members as acharacteristic which accounts for fission into smaller com-munities. 56 Size determines the range of interaction whichin turn establishes the basis for sharing within a com-munity. One young Hindu woman describes growing up as anIndian in a small Canadian city:There wasn't and there still isn't a large Indian com-munity . . . In the community we live in, about twenty56Sharma (1989) describes how the growth of theIndian community in a Saskatchewan city led to fissionbetween groups.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 101Indian families, and that's from every part of India orAfrica.EN (I will identify quotes of my own statements by"EN"): Did they all know each other?Yea, they pretty much do. [then discussing whether theyhave Sikh friends] You guys [to her husband who hadgrown up in Vancouver] don't, but we did, because ourcommunity, . . . everyone who was Indian was there.(TT-16)When numbers are small, being Indian is the only significantshared requirement. The group to which Mr. Bindi firstbelonged has, with growth, become segmented along family orcaste lines whose differences are attributed to differentreligious practices:In the beginning our clan consisted of all thesefamilies because we didn't have other members of ourreal clan. But now other members have come. Sometimeswe see now the bigger family has become somewhat frag-mented. . . . the saturation point is reached. And thenthey have their Kayastas, we are Marwaris, so theirreligious practices are different than ours. So theyget together. So they have become a group within agroup. Then there are Mathurs . . . So there are sepa-rate groups. (TT-2)In one of the youth group discussions, one of theGujarati participants posits an explanation for Gujaratisegregation:Our community [Gujaratis] is so big. That's why we'vedistinguished ourselves away from Hindus . . .[one of the others interjects a correction] Hindi speak-ing Hindus. (TT-Y2)Gujaratis have themselves separated into caste groups whohave formed their own organizations.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 102Before examining the construct of "Indian com-munity," I will describe some of the interactions betweeninternal groups which I have been able to identify.Although social interactions between linguistic groups (e.g.Bengali, Maharashtrian, Gujarati) and regional (e.g. Fijian)are limited in practice, the most significant conceptualdifferences are religious.Hindus and Sikhs interact socially, culturally, orthrough business. For example, the Vishva Hindu Parishadcelebrates Guru Nanak's birthday and invites Sikhs on thatday. During my research, that drew one of the highestattendance during the year, totalling about five to six hun-dred people. More than one Hindu respondent has urged me tovisit a particular Gurdwara, explaining that they gooccasionally. Both Sikhs and Hindus take part in IndiaMusic Society, India Club, and, less so, in classical Indiandance schools. Hindu business people rely on Vancouver'slarge Sikh population for much of their business. Most ofthe Hindu respondents have Sikh friends with whom they do,however, avoid talking about politics or religion. 57Both Sikh and Hindu individuals with whom I havespoken admit that relations between Hindus and Sikh6 in Van-couver became more strained after the 1984 invasion of the57See Sharma (1989) for a description of relationsbetween Hindus and Sikhs in Saskatchewan.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 103Golden Temple. This is true even between young people. Asone young Hindu woman put it:When this Indira Gandhi assassination came up, theirattitudes were quite different. . . . So for a whilethey were strained. It's something you just don't talkabout, 'So how are things at the Gurdwara temple?' Youjust don't do that. [laugh] You just don't discusspolitics. But that's not with all Sikhs, most Sikhs,everyone's suffering the same amount. Even within theSikh community, there's so much division now, too,because a lot of people are dead against the idea ofKhalistan. (TT-16)Hindu respondents invariably stress that Sikhs andHindus comes from the same roots and are fundamentally nodifferent. 58 A factor cited most often by Hindu respondentsas that which accounts for a social distance between Sikhsand Hindus, is a difference in socio-economic position.This is a stereotype based on Sikh "old timers." "New-comers" of the 1960's and later tend to have increasedlevels of education and socio-economic status (Srivastava1974:375-77).Three categories, "Hindus," "Gujaratis," and"Sikhs," are frequently juxtaposed by Gujarati respondents."Hindus" is clearly not constructed as a religious categoryin this case, since many Gujaratis themselves are Hindu(others are Ismaili, some define themselves as "Fijian"(Buchignani 1980b, 1977)).58Oberoi (1988) documents the historical construc-tion of symbolic differences between Sikhs and Hindus.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 104"Hindus" here refers to that group of Hindus whohave no other strong distinguishing characteristics, namelythose from northern India, commonly U.P., who are Hindispeaking, and who represent the dominant "community" inIndia. 59 Gujaratis, who conceptualize the primary charac-teristic of their own immediate model as being Gujaratispeaking and who identify with specific castes, define theseHindus as a separate group. The Gujarati "internal observ-ers' model" of Hindi speakers emphasizes their Hindu-nesswhere, in contrast, these Hindus consider themselves to bequintessentially "Indian."The relations between Hindus and Muslims is lessclear to me." "Muslims" as a general category has rarelybeen referred to by Hindus in my presence. A "Muslim /Hindu thing," referring to a tense relationship, was broughtup in one Yuva discussion. The Babri Masjid and Ram Janmab-hoomi issues had not come to a head at the time of the mainresearch for this dissertation. At the time of writing(1993) there are certainly conversations about it. SomeHindus view the whole situation with sadness and consider it59See Freitag (1980) for a discussion of the his-torical and symbolic construction of Hindus as a communityin India."Anderson et al. (1983:223-239) describe Muslims,including Ismailis, in British Columbia. They do not,however, specifically identify those of South Asian origin.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 105to be primarily a political issue, others express angeragainst Muslims. 61On the basis of shared language, Bangladeshisoriginally joined with Bengalis to form the Bengali CulturalSociety. Bangladeshi Muslims, however, separated and formedtheir own group some years ago.The only Indian Muslims whom I have met areIsmailis. 62 . Bristow et al. (1975) report that in Canada58% of Ugandan South Asians, who are primarily Gujaratispeaking, are Ismaili. Vancouver's Gujarati Society hassome Ismaili members. Ismailis tend to be very active inand supportive of India Music Society. In June 1991, a PastPresident of India Club reported that there were no Ismailimembers. At the same time, Yuva had one half-Ismaili mem-ber.My research suggests that Hindus typically hold adefinition of Ismailis as being relatively more "Western-61At a Vancouver viewing of a film on the subject,"In the Name of God," a discussion took place among Indianaudience members on the subject of whether those overseasIndians who contribute financially to the Vishva HinduParishad in India are fully aware of the implications andrepercussions of such support.See Pandey (1990) for a historical analysis of thesymbolic construction for political ends of Hindu-Muslimcommunalism.62See Dossa (1985) for a description of Ismailiphilosophy and life and Vancouver; and Fernando (1979) for ademographic profile of Ismailis in Western Canada.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 106ized" and having such a strong community of their own andsuch unique and rigorous religious practices that they tendto limit their association with other Indians. Dossa's(1985) findings concurs that these characteristics are partof Ismaili ideology. Their strong participation in IndiaMusic Society events suggests, however, that they share anidentification with at least this aspect of Indian culture.ORGANIZATIONS AND INSTITUTIONS Hindu families who arrived in Vancouver before 1970came to a city without the large number and diversity ofHindu religious and cultural organizations which exist now.Some, like Mr. Chand, who helped to establish a Gurdwara,initially became involved in the existing Sikh community.When the Hindu population was small, a "community"consisted of families with shared cultural backgrounds whofound each other and met informally. Founding members oforganizations regularly cite three motivations: a desire tobe able to pursue activities with other Hindus or otherIndians; a concern that their children might become toointegrated into the mainstream and lose all touch with theirreligion, language and culture of heritage; and a desire topursue interests in Indian religious or artistic activity.So, for example, India Club was established in 1968;the Vishva Hindu Parishad in 1968; the Gujarati Society in3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 1071969; the Indo-Canadian newspaper, The Link, in 1973; andIndia Music Society in the mid-70's. Since then, organiza-tions have proliferated (see Appendix Two for a list). 63Sushma, the host of the Multicultural Channel'ssemiweekly three-hour program, "Indrahanush," has reportedlyexclaimed in exasperation, "Did you know there are sixty-twoSouth Asian organizations here in Vancouver? Sixty-twosocieties? Sixty-two different societies! Can you believethat?" (Mathur 1990:64)Anand Paranjpe (1986:77-78) argues that a highdegree of institutional completeness has been achieved.(see also Buchignani et al. 1985:183-204). "Institutionalcompleteness" refers to the degree to which an ethnic grouphas put into place their own organizations, institutions,media, and services. In consequence individuals of thatgroup are able to live their lives to a high degree withinthe boundaries of their own institutions; maintain a way oflife which relates to their culture of origin; associateprimarily, sometimes almost exclusively, with others of thesame background; and integrate their young people into theirways (Breton 1964). Others (e.g. Buchignani 1984:173;Kanungo 1984b:107-8; Ramcharan 1984:43) also posit that an63Compare Burghart (1987c:8-9), who describes theproliferation of Asian organizations and institutions inBritain.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 108abundance of cultural associations limits conjugation withthe host society.The existence of organizations and institutionsallows immigrants the option of joining established socialand cultural networks as soon as they arrive in Vancouver."In the case of Indian immigrants, a few inquiries mighteasily lead newcomers to a Hindu mandir or temple. Therethey meet people with whom they have other interests in com-mon, find out about other organizations and activities, joinone of many "friends circles," and tap business prospects.Organizations also deal with problems and make pos-sible the planning of regular public events in which groupidentity is reconfirmed and celebrated (Chadney 1977; cf.Manning 1983). It would be inaccurate to speak of somethingas substantial as a backbone in relation to what is commonlyreferred to as the "Indian community," but organizationssuch as the V.H.P. support a sense of community."INDIAN COMMUNITY" 65Mr. Bindi: . . . some of these Indian families here . .. I think within the Indian community you are looking"Buchignani et al. (1985:203) conjecture that thesekinds of Indian institutions will in the future be per-petuated by new immigrants, not by the second and subsequentgenerations.65Also, but less commonly referred to as, "EastIndian community," "Indo-Canadian community," or simply "thecommunity."3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 109at about 80% or 75% Sikhs, Punjabis. Then within 20%,you have zeroed in on Hindus. But some of us areHindu, some of us are Ismailis, some of us are Mus-lims. Amongst the Muslims you have people from Fiji,people from India, people from Pakistan. You're look-ing at a nation.EN: Is there an Indian community?Mr. Bindi: No, there is none. It's a fallacy. There isno Indian community. (TT-2)The apparent contradiction between talking about anIndian community and denying its existence occurs repeatedlyin my interviews and discussions with Indians as well as indaily life among Indians. On the one hand is a spontaneoususage and everyday understanding of "Indian community." Onthe other is constructed difference, observable divisive-ness, ambiguity about membership, and a denial of the exist-ence of an Indian community.Because of this ambivalence, I suggest that "fal-lacy" in the above quotation may be too strong a word. Itis not that "Indian community" does not exist. It is thenature of its existence which is in question. References toIndian community operate at a conceptual level, whiledenials of its existence refer to actual levels of interac-tion and cooperation.""Ortner (1989) outlines the historical use insociology and anthropology of both abstract and concretesenses of "community."3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 110"Indian community" exists as a symbolic construc-tion, a social myth whose concrete existence may be disputedbut which does represent an ideal in the minds of those whouse it as a term of self reference. Strauss (1959:149)defines group as "a symbolic not a physical fact" based on"shared meanings." 67 In his postulate of "the essentiallysymbolic nature of the idea of community," A. P. Cohen(1985) argues against functionalist accounts of communitywhich posit integration and solidarity.Donald Horne provides a secular, symbolic defini-tion of myth:I take 'myth' to mean a belief held in common by a largegroup of people that gives events and actions a particu-lar meaning. . . . 'Myths' have the magic quality oftransforming complex affairs into simple but crystal-clear 'realities' that explain and justify how thingsare now, or how we would like them to be. Whetheraltogether false, or partly true, they have the trans-forming effect of hiding actual contradictions, confu-sions and inadequacies. (Horne 1986:57-8)I suggest that a myth of "Indian community" existsas a conceptual social category for its members, and as suchit exerts an influence on action or as a standard for judg-ment. Yuva is guided by this myth of "Indian community"which they aim to strengthen. I asked one young woman whyshe feels it is so important to meet other Indians. She was67Barth (1969), Berreman (1975), Leach (1964), andShibutani (1955:565) formulated symbolic and interactiveapproaches to group definition.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 111brought up in a Hindu Punjabi family in a Canadian smalltown and moved away from home to attend university in alarger city. There she joined the university's Indian Stu-dents Association.When you're living at home with your parents you feelthat security and that . . . comes from the way you'vebeen raised and what you do with your parents. And forus it's a lot of the East Indian values. So when I wentoutside . . . it was sort of a common basis. We wereall second generation Canadians, and all our parents hadcome from India in the late sixties and we'd all grownup with the same problems, you know the restrictions,and the only sort of freedom was going to university.And meeting other people, you sort of didn't have toexplain things all the time. Or if there was somethingyou didn't like doing you weren't an oddball 'causethere were other people who felt the same way that youcould feel comfortable with. I think that's why,because there's always that sense of belonging you'relooking for whether you're a kid or an adult. (TT-16)Her husband agrees that shared understandings and aneed for belonging draw Indo-Canadians together:You have to feel like you have--otherwise there will besomething that you can't share with the majority ofpeople here. You have religion, or you have culture,but you cannot share. Like the majority of the Anglo-Saxon people can share something which we will not beable to share or join in. (ibid)In trying to explain, they also say in almost thesame breath as the above statements:Rani: Because there's nothing really, there's not a com-mon thread--Rajesh: No, nothing holding us together.The apparent contradiction of their statements, that theythere both is and is not something shared, reflects that3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 112they, like Mr. Bindi, refer to two different levels. On onelevel there is little in the way of a common set ofbehaviours or activities. Such things define smaller com-munities within an Indian community. But at another level,nurturing the myth allows for a sense of belonging over andabove differences which, as Rani and Rajesh try to articu-late, is based on shared values, understandings, and experi-ences. For diasporic Indians this includes shared problems.Events such as Gandhi Jayanti and India's Independ-ence Day (both organized by India Club) celebrate positivevalues of India and affirm an ideology of unity. As modelsof and for an Indian community such activities help to per-petuate the myth. Classical Indian dance and music (whichare often performed at such events) are also symbols of anIndian identity and community (Cunningham 1990; Naimpally1989; Nodwell 1985; Nuttall 1991). Indian Music Societyconcerts reinforce the myth more indirectly when Indianaudience members take pride in their cultural achievements."Indian community" is a term of reference withinwhich other experiences make sense to members. Withindefinitions of this community Yuva's goals and theircriticisms of some of their parents' attitudes make sense.This will become clear in the following chapter.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 113DEFINING SELVES AND OTHERS In interviews I pursued the question of who belongsto the Indian community. Members have different answersabout who belongs, to what degree, and under what circum-stances. They also evaluate their own groups and the groupsof others in terms of how they are perceived to conform toor diverge from an ideal. These definitions are never to betaken at face value, as all groups tend to define themselvespositively in relation to others. This section identifiesdefinitions of selves and others as held by the subjects ofthis case study. Countervailing definitions are undoubtedlyheld by others.Barbara Ward (Ward 1965) specifies three definitionsof groups (see "Everyday Activity and Practical Conscious-ness" in Chapter One). The value of Ward's models is indirecting attention to identifying typical ways in whichgroups define themselves and others. She stresses thatthese definitions are not to be viewed as factual, but ascollectively constructed definitions. To remind the reader,Ward's "ideological model" includes ideas which members haveabout what an ideal community is, against which they measuretheir own group and those of others. In this instance, itcorresponds to members' definitions of "Indian community."What Ward calls the "immediate model" corresponds to self-perceptions which communities or sub-groups encompassed3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 114within the larger category hold of their own communities.Ward suggests that a characteristic of this model is thatinsiders of each sub-group believe themselves to meet thestandards of community, while others are judged to be defi-cient. This corresponds to how members of The FamilyFriends Circle and Yuva define themselves, and how authenti-cally "Indian" they consider themselves to be. A third typeof group definition is what Ward calls the "internal observ-ers' models." These are insiders' evaluations about othersub-groups and the degree to which they conform to ordiverge from an ideal. This corresponds to definitionswhich members of The Family Friends Circle and Yuva hold ofother groups or communities within an Indian community.Mr. Bindi speaks as if an undifferentiated group of"Indians"--in which he includes himself--make up an Indiancommunity. He makes continual reference throughout myinterview with him to "Indians," and "Indian" community,culture, way, system, music, food, and values. Yet at onepoint he interrupts himself to explain a differentiation:And when I say 'community' I am not thinking of thoseSikhs there, sawmill workers. They've never been partof our group. There were they and us--educated, morerecent arrivals, and didn't work in the sawmill. Iguess that was the [community]. . . . Many clean shavenSikhs also were part of our group. (TT-2)He defines himself, his family and friends, and the groupsto which he considers himself to belong as "Indian" and3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 115belonging to an Indian community. This is his "immediatemodel." He can, however, identify people with origins inIndia whom he does not consider to adhere to the standardsof that same Indian community. This is his "insiderobserver's model" of them.One characteristic of The Family Friends Circle"immediate model" is a high level of education and socio-economic status. Mr. Bindi's "internal observer's model" ofother sub-groups characterizes their difference from his ownin terms of class difference, a criterion common amongIndian professional and business people. One Hindu respond-ent referred to the social distinction between the educatedand less educated as the "other side of the Indian castesystem." Mrs. Kapoor, a professional's wife, makes such adistinction:[When we first came, in the fifties) people were here inVancouver, but those were only working class. . . . Theculture is not really reflected through them. They havetheir own ways and they're not educated. Mind you,they're not bad people, they're nice and simple people.But you know . . . they don't know the culture . . .(TT-2)The class difference is expressed in terms of lackof education:But there are people who don't go to V  H P ^somepeople felt rejected, and it was because they brought insome so-called non-professional people. . . . Theirvalue systems are very different. . . . these are minorbusinessmen from Fiji . . . they are not relatively edu-cated. So in this [speaker's) group you are also look-ing at people who have achieved a certain level of3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 116education, and they somewhat look down at the otherpeople. (TT-2)As in Mr. Bindi's previously quoted reference tosawmill workers, class difference is often equated with adifference between Hindus and Sikhs. Mr. Chand expressessimilar views:Now V  H P ^most of the people are educated . . .most of them who go there speak English, they don't havethat problem [of language]. . . . But in the Sikh com-munity I came to know recently they have one grouporganized . . . they call them the Pensioner's Group . .. At least the citizens feel some usefulness in a waythat we have somebody else to communicate with and alsoa place to go. . . . In the Ross Avenue Temple, overthere I find all the older people are sitting outsidethe temple--there are benches there--on a sunny day . .. but there is no program. Those people could, becausethey do feel very lonely . . . that type of program isactually required. . . . No one else to talk to.Everybody goes to their own job . . . and the only thingto look at is the walls. They feel very, very frus-trated. They say, 'Why the hell I came here?' . . .See, people who know the language, they can go out, theytake a bus pass, they go any place . . . But thosepeople, scared, if they get lost. (TT-10)He is sympathetic and explains that he speaks to elderlypeople whenever he has a chance. Nevertheless, in thisstatement, he construes the problem as a difference betweenSikhs and Hindus, when in fact elderly Hindus have similarproblems. In spite of controversy over the years, V.H.P.prayer services and announcements continue to be conductedin Hindi, and the reason given is always that the most regu-lar members are the older people who do not understandEnglish.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 117Lack of education and rural upbringing is associatedwith a high degree of traditionalism and "old fashioned"values." These are seen as negative characteristics incontrast to the "modern" outlook of the "immediate model."Talking about marriage, Mrs. Kapoor also associates lack ofeducation with village upbringing and a more traditional setof values:There are two groups in India, too. One is the unedu-cated group from the villages, and their thinking iscompletely different from what I'm telling you. But Imean, suppose we want to see our son, our daughter, thatthey should have a happy life. So we will do our bestand then the final decision is on them. We are notdeciding--I'm not saying it happens with every Indianfamily, I mean in villages they still--(TT-7)Kumar and Mrs. Ghosh elaborate on their representa-tion of the association between rural and urban upbringing,education, and outlook:Kumar: I know families that are so unadapted that theirdaughters, they live secluded at home. And when theyget old enough, they get taken to India to get married. . . They don't have the choice of doing whateverthey want. And they come back and just wait for theirhusbands to come here . . . circles where the younggirls and guys just don't mix. . . . They [those cir-cles or families] belong to their own groups.Mrs. Ghosh: They may go to the same temple, because Ithink that is still a binding, or I should say auniversal concept, of going to the Hindu temple, forinstance. But socially I don't think we would mix,because we don't have very much in common except thetemple and the clothes and the food--"Reddy's (1980) study examines relationshipsbetween socio-economic status and rural or urban upbringingon the one hand, and attitudes and values on the other.Correlations found in his study provide some basis for thesebeliefs.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 118Kumar: Oh, we have things in common--Mrs. Ghosh: But the wave lengths I think would be verydifferent. But also partly because our upbringing inIndia was much more liberal than maybe--Kumar: See, we don't come from a rural background.You'll find that a lot of people that come from arural background keep their traditional ideas withthem, their ways of living with them. We come from avery urban, and we haven't had the same--when you comefrom a rural background, religion and culture is whatyou have, right. But when you're in an urban back-ground there's a lot more, there's the cars--Mrs. Ghosh: Education. Also there's a lot more--thecomposition of the people you come across is very dif-ferent. (TT-14)Here they appear to be referring to Hindus from differentrural and urban backgrounds. On another occasion, they hada similar conversation which referred specifically to Sikhsand Ismailis:Kumar: I think Sikhs are more old fashioned in someways. They live a very old fashioned kind of life,like the girl can't go out and things like that--Mrs. Ghosh: You know the reason for that, most of theSikh people who are here are from villages and theydon't have education . . .Kumar: Like all the [names a Hindu family from theirgroup], they're all from villages.Mrs. Ghosh: But they worked in Lucknow. A lot of theSikh people you find are traditional people becausethey were farmers. They were never educated. . . .Kumar: They were the first settlers, Indian settlers,here. I guess they just never wanted to [assimilate].They've just been with themselves.Mrs. Ghosh: . . . Because the whole villages, and fifty,sixty, eighty families from a village have moved to3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 119Vancouver. So they form their own little circle hereand never have to deal with anybody. . . . A lot ofIsmaili people have the same setup here too, that'swhy they don't--Kumar: Yea, but Ismailis, that's more to do with theirreligion, their religion really emphasizes their linkto--like they give money to their, a lot of money--Mrs. Ghosh: I find a lot of similarities between Sikhsand Ismailis in that region. Sikh people give a lotof money to their religion. Unlike Hindu people, theynever have money for their temples--[both laugh]Kumar: Yea, they have money for themselves, that's it.(TT-15)The exaggerated numbers are a reminder that these defini-tions ought not to be taken at face value but as representa-tive of how people define their own groups in contrast toothers. The speakers imply that assimilation and integra-tion are a characteristic of their own "immediate model" incontrast with Sikhs and Ismailis whom they perceive asisolating themselves. Furthermore, their "internal observ-ers' model" identifies Sikhs as distinguished by class dif-ferences, specifically education. They also posit familyclass immigration as a reason for isolation.An explanation for an emphasis on class may be foundin a description by Mr. Lal:People who came here in the early nineteen hundreds aslabour . . . because they had nothing else in India.They came for a better future and then they came fromsmall villages. . . . Because of the majority of thepopulation in British Columbia type of people in general. . . they will assume that if you are from India thatyou are illiterate unless you prove otherwise. Whereasin other parts of the country . . . except Toronto, and3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 120U.S. also, because most of the people came as independ-ent immigrants, most people came as professionals. Theyare very well respected, and if you are from the Indiansubcontinent they expect that you must be highly edu-cated unless you prove otherwise. The Hindu communityis taken as intellectuals unless you prove otherwise.(TT-12)Mr. Lal's description suggests that educated Indians mayfeel a need to distinguish themselves from those whom theyconsider to be less educated because of negative stereotypesheld of the latter by outsiders.A second characteristic of the "immediate model" isthat members maintain a broader social network in comparisonto others who are seen as remaining numbers isolated. Mr.Chand relates that to the difference between a rural andurban upbringing:That is a problem [that most people don't take theinitiative to reach out] because you see, they isolatethemselves. Too much Indian culture . . . wherever youhave large concentration of the community at one place.Like in South Vancouver here, you see rows of homeswhere you'll seldom find one or two Canadian. Most ofthem are East Indian. . . . See, I was brought up in adifferent atmosphere. I was raised in a very big city .. . (TT-10)Ward briefly refers to a fourth category of defini-tions, "foreign patterns." This corresponds to definitionsof those who are outside an "Indian community" or who are"non-Indian." North American society often serves as areference group (Merton 1964) in contrast to which defini-tions of India and Indians are sometimes positively and3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 121sometimes negatively assessed." Such an outside group isvariously referred to as "Western," "Anglo-Saxon," "NorthAmerican," "Canadian society," "European society," "Canadianway," "mainstream," and "WASP culture." Respondents arenever quite sure how to designate those who are not Indianand their culture and society. Members are variously con-ceptualized as "Canadians" ("Canadian means Caucasian livinghere" (TT-1), Caucasians ("We're gonna define Caucasians aswhite" (TT-Y2)), "North Americans," "white people," and"non-Indians."Mrs. Ghosh considers it important for young Indiansto strengthen their connections with each other. Herexplanation reveals a strong sense of Indian community:I think it's an excellent foundation for young people ofsimilar background to work together and I can see thisas being very useful in their social network even whenthey're adults. . . . These are the people--they'll allbecome lawyers and doctors and whatever--this willbecome their old boys' network at some other time, whichwe didn't have because the people we grew up with, we"Indians also hold stereotypes of North Americans.When asked where Indians get ideas about Westerners, onerespondent answered, "Indian movies" (TT-16). Compare Kakar(1986) and Barnow and Krishnaswamy (1980) on the creation ofgender stereotypes in Hindi films.There is a history of dichotomization between Indiaand the West, from both sides. Anannya Bhattacharjee (1992)relates the dichotomy from the Indian side to dominantnationalist thought in India in which "India signifiesnation, culture, tradition, God; and the United States sig-nifies material prosperity, participation in legislativepolitics, economic advancement, and the industrial and tech-nological development." See also Said (1979) and Singer(1972).3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 122all spread out. Like I'm in Canada, my people I went toschool with are somewhere else. And they've [i.e. youngpeople] now got a community based network, which will bereally useful for them and give them a sense of belong-ing as they become mature and individuals. . . . I meanthere's nothing wrong with having it in a Canadian conz-text and having your friends. But there's always somebarriers. (TT-14)She appears to posit an absolute difference between Indiansand others. The social networks which she finds importantare the extended family networks which independent classimmigrants lose when they leave India. She argues that heresuch networks must be consciously recreated (see followingsection of this chapter, "The Extended Family as ContinuingIdeal"). The Family Friends Circle (to be described in afollowing section) is one such creation.SECOND GENERATION DEFINITIONS The second generation are struggling with andredefining their concepts of community and their definitionsof who belongs. Yuva's agenda to de-emphasize internal dif-ferences is based on a conception of Indian community.Individual members continue to remain involved in their owngroups (e.g. Gujarati, Bengali, Jain, Sikh). But a desireto expand social networks brings them to Yuva in order, forexample, to have "multicultural friends," for Hindus tomaintain friendships with Sikhs despite their parents fears,or to break out of limited Gujarati social circles.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 123Since Yuva is explicitly aimed at "all Indo-Canadians," I asked who Indo-Canadians are and what theyhave in common:Ranjit: I think it's our appearance. I mean we all look'Indian,' right?Kumar: But do you think an Ismaili would consider him orherself Indo-Canadian?Ranjit: I don't know. I don't think so.Kumar: I don't know either. 'Cause I think you consideryourself Indo-Canadian, I consider myself Indo-Canadian--Ranjit: Don't they speak Gujarati?Kumar: They speak Gujarati.Ramesh: They do, yea.Kumar: Yea, so 'cause they came from Africa--Ranjit: And they [the people from Africa] originallycame from India, so--Kumar: But I don't think Ismailis--this is my personalopinion--consider themselves Indo--Ranjit: They consider themselves Muslim first. I thinktheir religion is very--they have, what do you callthose things, every Friday they get together--Kumar: Jamat KhanaRanjit: Yea. So that everything revolves around theirreligion, rather than the culture.Kumar: Yea, that's right. (TT-Y1) 7 °"I have no data on corresponding definitions whichIsmailis hold of themselves and others, although these areequally worthy of examination.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 124In this conversation, the speakers cover the primordial(Geertz 1963) attributes of appearance, Indic language, andIndia as ultimate place of origin as characteristics ofIndo-Canadian. They also posit self ascription as necessaryto membership. Their own emphasis on culture over religion(described as a characteristic of Yuva in "Religion" inChapter Six), represents their "internal observers' model"of "Indo-Canadian."Kumar explains the relationships between youngpeople from various groups:Sikhs and Hindus, like the younger generation, theyounger people, they tend to get together a lot. I meanat things like at school, things like that, there's no--they assimilate, there's no difference, they don't con-sider themselves very different. We don't consider our-selves very different from Sikhs, we talk and so on. Nd'problem . . . at our dance there were a lot of Sikhs,there's a lot of mixing. But Ismailis are very withthemselves. They don't mix very much. . . . Fijians areHindus, too, a lot of them are Hindu, so the ones thatare Hindus--Fijians are Hindu, Fijians are Gujarati--butthey have their own things as well. A lot of them arewith themselves as well. I don't know too many Fijiansthat mix with us as much. They have their own mandir.(TT-15)Self ascribed difference and isolation are again posited asan "internal observers' model," here of groups whose membersare not (yet) involved in Yuva.As internal observers, this group posits thatIsmailis' own "immediate model" is not based on Indo-Canadian culture but that they see themselves as distinct onthe basis of religion. Yuva has attempted to include3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 125Ismailis. A few members have commented on the lack ofIsmaili members and the difficulty of trying to persuadetheir Ismaili friends and acquaintances to join. They positthe strength of Ismaili youth organizations as a reason forthis.The youth also make another type of distinction.They have a term for those they consider to be excessivelyold fashioned:Sunil: The word 'typical' has two meanings. The way Iunderstood it was old fashioned.Other: 'Typical Indian'--Other: Yea--Sunil: If we use, in front of my friends, the word'typical'--Jyoti: 'She's totally typical'--Sunil: 'Totally typical' [everyone recognizes andagrees] that means like--Kumar: . . . Simple, traditional, old fashioned, homely[meaning homey]. (TT-2)"Typical," means too Indian and out of step withlife here. It serves as an "internal observer's model" ofunintegrated, old fashioned, or closed-minded Indians withwhom they do not wish to identify or whose ways they do notwish to emulate. It refers to a definition of "Indian"which is opposed to "modern" and to which they do not sub-scribe.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 126In response to my question about outsiders as mem-bers, Kumar defines Yuva membership as anyone interested inpromoting the well-being of Indo-Canadian youth. But I amthe only non-Indian member, since membership from outsidersis not actively sought.In spite of association with non-Indians in dailylife at school, a social separation is maintained betweenone's Indian and non-Indian friends. Friends from the groupform one social circle, while school friends form another.Vijay explains what appears to be a common pattern:At school there are very few Indians. . . . while goingthrough school, I've had two sets of friends. I've hadmy school friends and I've had my family friends all thetime, and it's always been that way. But now that I'mup here [at U.B.C.], there are a lot more Indians. Somy school friends, some of them are my family friendsand they're Indians. And the people I don't see thatmuch are my old high school friends, and they're thenon-Indians. . . . I just had two sets 'cause theydidn't know each other and they'd do different things,and sometimes I'd be doing things with my Indian friendsand sometimes I'd be doing things with my schoolfriends. (TT-4)Most of the university students with whom I have spoken havehad the similar experience of going to schools where therewere very few, if any other, Indians, and so having non-Indian friends.Ramesh: It was a shock for me when I went from highschool to U.B.C.. In my whole high school there'sonly about four East Indians, including myself. ThenI went to U.B.C. and saw all these different people,it just blew me away. I didn't realize there werethat many people--3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 127Ranjit: Lots of East Indians, yea--Kumar: U.B.C.'s got a lot of Indians, whereas my HighSchool, Burnaby Central, same sort of thing. There'sjust a few. And I didn't even know them. In myelementary school I think I was the only Indian in mygrade. (TT-Y1)The family friends were the ones they saw most oftenoutside of school and on weekends. These have become thelasting friendships. Once in university, they meet manyIndians, and find that their family friends are also there,so the two categories converge. In so far as this coincideswith an increasing interest in things Indian, these friend-ships become intensified. At the same time, there is notmuch time or energy left over for other social relations.The latter are maintained where individuals have previouslyformed strong friendships, or in connection with specificinterests such as, for example, sports activities or musicgroups. 71Further examples will surface in the next threechapters. Yuva members, in their drive to assert their ownIndian identity and to forge networks between "all kinds ofIndians," often have occasion to contrast Indian values and71 1 have observed a development cycle which,however, I have not been able to confirm due to insufficientevidence. It appears that once this second generation mar-ries, lives on their own, and gets jobs, they develop newnon-Indian friendships. With the birth of children, an evenstronger sense of family resurfaces. This takes the form ofmore frequent contact between extended family members, andmore involvement with Hindu family rituals.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 128behaviors with those of their "white" friends. It will beseen that these youth sometimes identify with an Indian com-munity and sometimes with North American society.THE FAMILY FRIENDS CIRCLEKumar: We also actually . . . we have a group offriends--Mrs. Ghosh: Social--Kumar: Indo-Canadian friends, our social family friendscircle--Mrs. Ghosh: Sort of our community family--Kumar: And we have regular parties. (TT-14)In another conversation, Vijay explains,There are circles and circles of people that know people. . . Most of the family friends that we have--we callit a circle, it's more like a community itself--but theclose circle of friends is, like [Kumar] and [Kamla] andall these guys . . . (TT-4)Mrs. Das describes the parties:Plus our family friends circle, we keep meeting everyweekend. Like we know so many, about fifteen, twentyfamilies are very close to us. So one or the otherkeeps having a party. We meet on weekends most of thetime with these friends and their children. And wenever go for our parties alone, we always go with thechildren. It's not like only for adults. It's not aformal party, it's always with the family, the familyparty. So adults sit in one room and talk, or childrenare either watching T.V. or they talk, but we are alltogether. That's why they know them so closely. . . .their children are well know to our children. (TT-17)Mr. Bindi describes the make-up of the group:In our group it's predominance of Hindi speaking. Notonly Hindi speaking, but Hindi speaking from certainpart of the state . . . mostly from U.P. Even from U.P.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 129they come from a particular belt, western U.P. So ourcultural mores and social functions are very similar.(TT-2)Kamla, his daughter, who is a Yuva council member,describes the group from her perspective:It's about thirty families . . . and we've all grown uptogether and we've partied together and sort of gottento know each other on that basis. . . . I think itstarted when we had New Years' parties together. . . .when I was younger, in high school, we'd be going--I hadno need of a social life in high school with my friends,even though I eventually had to get one because thiswasn't enough--we'd be going to an auntie's house everyweekend for dinner. Two or three parties every weekend,like Friday night, Saturday night. And now it's becomeless, I think, just because the kids have gotten olderand we have other interests and we have other things toget on with. But yea, that would be a big part of ourlives, would be these parties and these singing gather-ings. (TT-1)Mrs. Das, whose family is a long time member of thegroup, explained a practical reason for these parties.Indians carry with them the sense of obligation to maintainclose and continuous social contact with a large circle offamily and friends (cf. Buchignani et al. 1985:171). Indi-viduals start by maintaining phone contact with each other,since dropping by regularly to all one's friends andacquaintances is impractical in an urban context wheregeographic distances are often great. But even this provesto be exhausting and time consuming, particularly when hus-band and wife often both hold jobs. So social obligationsare met by holding large informal "parties" on weekends.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 130This serves an unintended function of limiting relationshipswith others, since little time or energy is left over. 72This family group defines their own parties in con-atrast to two other types. One is those which do notinclude children. The other is those which emphasize drink-ing.Our group was the kind of envy of other people. I heardof a lot of people who wanted to come, they would comebut wouldn't feel comfortable. Like people who like todrink, have fun, fun-oriented people, have adultparties, they came and they just didn't fit in. (TT-2)And this is another thing, even with our Indian people,cocktail parties, artificial sort of things, they don'tdevote enough time to the children. And this is one ofthe reasons that they lack in the value system and theydon't know what values are and what culture is. (TT-7)These two defining characteristics of parties will shortlybe seen to also define The Family Friends Circle in relationto others.The Family Friends Circle has grown over the years,partly as the spontaneous meeting of people with similarinterests, and partly as the result of decisions individualsmade as to the kinds of social relationships they wanted forthemselves and their children. Mr. Bindi describes thedevelopment of the group from his perspective:We made friends, we dropped friends, and we stuck to thesame basic course--between [his wife] and I there must72Varma (1980:34) makes a similar observation andsuggests that "The developing sense of community amongIndians in the United States often works as a barrier totheir wishes for assimilation in American society."3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 131have been a very strong consensus that this is the wayto go--and we picked up friends. And I was definitelypart of setting up that group. . . . Then [when he firstcame] there were two or three families. . . . So as theclan grew, so grew our group. . . . It became a supportgroup in which the kids can go to each otherunsupervised, when parents are sitting and talking aboutgood old days. . . . (TT-2)I asked Mr. Bindi whether this group takes the placeof an extended family. He immediately affirmed this idea:"Yes it does. I think you are looking at a modified form ofextended family" (TT-2). Others, like Mr. Chand and Mrs.Ghosh, make comments which reflect similar feelings:So they are sort of family members now. My extendedfamily's here. My roots are sort of cut off. So theseare my roots now. (TT-10)It was like a network there already and I just becamepart of an existing network. Their network was alreadyin place, partly because some of them are related toeach other and some are close friends. I mean I startedrealizing the importance of being part of a group thatwould help keep the values. . . . That has a differentplace, a special place. They're like family . . . sothat's become your family and the other people arefriends. (TT-14)I asked Mr. Bindi what word he regularly uses for'family.' He explained:That word [family] we use our nuclear family and alsoour larger family. Like occasionally I'll switch to thelarger family connotation. And then I'll involve all mybrothers and sisters and cousins and say, 'That's ourfamily, that's our heritage.' In our house we talk alot in English. So you can see that some of theseEnglish words get used all the time. . . . I don't thinkour children understand the word parivar quite a bit.We just don't use it in our day to day language. If Iwrite a letter though, then I will use the word parivar.Or there is another word I use interchangeably, ghar,3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 132ghar means house. And we also use hamare ghar men, inour house . . . (TT-3)Mrs. Ghosh suggests to why this fictive family is so neces-sary:I'm not as judgmental of people here as I was beforebecause I feel that, you know, it's not like living inIndia when you live here. The social, the support isnot there, the network is not there. In India there isa network, people you can fall back upon. Here there isno such network, that's a big problem. The family unitis different over here. (TT-13)Indian immigrants who come on independent class and so findthemselves without a family network, create one in the formof these family friends circles. Mr. Lal explains why hebelieves creating a support network is so crucial:Most of the Hindus who came here in the sixties orseventies, we were too busy in the first ten to twelveyears, fifteen years maybe, trying to build up asecurity for ourselves, to be self sufficient andsecure. It's very difficult to explain, but only now isthe time that we're getting into things that will havelong term benefit to the community. Up to this time wewere so self conscious of security that we only lookedat ourselves and tried to build up, save some money,make more money, buy a house, be able to pay a mortgage,and things like that. Most of us, in fact none of us,have any place to go if we had a major catastrophe . . .for family. And that's very important to Indians,because we're not used to the social security systemsthat you have here. So you are told that you must standon your own feet, otherwise the government will not--(TT-12)Mr. Chand gives some examples from his own family ofhow he conceptualizes the Indian family as a strong supportsystem:I feel that's very important, that if I am in trouble orif I need some help . . . [describes an incident and3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 133involvement of his cousin's daughter] Now you say she'sthe cousin's daughter, now there's a distance. But no!That Indian value system was there. So she said, 'No,it's not only their problem, it's family's problem.'That is the Indian value. For me, this is very impor-tant. . . . and that's why our concept is extended fam-ily concept. See, our family is not husband, wife, andthe children. My brother . . . is as important to mychildren as I am. If they get a call from him--just togive you yesterday's example. . . . I got a call here atabout nine o'clock last night. From [American city] mybrother said that, 'On the left eye today at about twoo'clock I started seeing that I'm losing my sight on theleft eye.' . . . See, why did he phone? Just understandthis point. He kept me informed. He could have waited,'Let the operation be done, when I come home I tell mybrother.' No! . . . he says, 'He is my elder brother, Ihave to let him know. This is for your information I amphoning you.' . . . tomorrow I'll go . . . to see him.Now you see that, that's the family, extended familysystem. Where he is as important to me as any of mysons or any of my blood relations. So that's the fam-ily. . . . Now this is the extended family. . . .Because they want to share the happiness and the sor-rows. Then the burden is less on your shoulders. Shar-ing's important. (TT-10)Mr. Bindi explains another aspect of what he definesas extended family:I would say that's the most appropriate description, amodified extended family. Even now if I--like theticket I have to buy, I know [X's] in the travel agency.I'll phone [X] and there is a basic amount of trustrelationship, so I know she will not give me wrongadvice. But we also keep things confidential whereverwe should. Like I'm [Mr. Das's] client, but I don'tcare very much about who else is [Mr. Das's] client. . .. There's been enough maturity and self assurance inthat group in terms of not divulging or not playing oneagainst the other. It can happen only within anextended family. (TT-2)He describes trust and loyalty among community members asother characteristics.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 134It also functions as a set of long term relations.These are cemented in a kind of reverse process of extendingfictive kin relations back to India when close friends visiteach other's family members there. Mr. Bindi describes oneexample of friends travelling to India and visiting hisrelatives there:So [Mrs. Das] and I, now that their families have metwith us--like [Mrs. Das'] mother and father came andvisited my brother's family in [India] . . . So this wasanother piece we put together. So we really become veryclose family now. [Mr. Das'] brother's daughter is get-ting married . . . we are planning to go there. We havemade our kind of family circle, although it is a friendscircle, but close. Just a way of developing long termrelationships. (TT-3)Parents like Mr. Bindi place obligations of mutualsupport on their children. He recently had occasion toremind his daughter of her obligation:Like yesterday Kamla [his daughter] said she was notgoing to be able to go to fifteenth of August program[India's Independence Day celebrations]. Mr. Das got aphone call from them, from the Consul General, sayingthat, 'When the flag raising ceremony will take place wewant some kids to sing.' And it has been done in thepast, except they have been disorganized and con-sequently did not think of it earlier. . . . And lastnight I told her that, 'Look, whenever you need [Ram]Uncle, and he's there always. Now he's setting up thisprogram and you are saying you have other plans. Whatis this?' So [Kamla] submitted to that little pressure.[She had earlier been quite adamant that she could notgo because of her own school pressures and commitments.]And she said, 'Oh yea, I'll change the plan, I'll go.'She could easily have said, 'Look Dad, I have otherplans. I just can't go.' And I wouldn't be able to sayanything. But she quickly realized that, 'No, no, thereis something selfish about it. If [Ram] Uncle isresponsible to put it together, then he's counting on3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 135us.' So she will show up. [She later said she hadenjoyed it and was glad she had gone]. (TT-2)Mr. Bindi's explanation of the situation suggests that hedoes not strictly enforce his authoritarian role as malehead of the house. His daughter, however, respects hiswishes and her obligations. This is an example of a youthdefinition of respecting parents by conceding to theirwishes even if it is not what you want (see "A Family Event"in Chapter Six).With Mr. Bindi I explored some of the character-istics of The Family Friends Circle in so far as he was ableto articulate them. This is his "immediate model" of hisown group:The way I see it, some of the common things we do, none -of us likes liquor. We use liquor, but it is only tothe point of socializing. Nobody drinks alone, we don'tdrink in the presence of our children. They are awarethat we drink with friends, but it is never more than adrink or two, social drink. That is very important. Iget turned off if people get drunk. Smoking is anotherthing. . . . smoking and drinking, I think these arevery external ones. (ibid)Abstinence from liquor is a value which is brought uprepeatedly. Yet Mr. Bindi admits that social drinking isacceptable and alcohol is often served at private socialgatherings. Abstinence represents an "ideological model,"against which actual practice varies. The symbol ofabstinence distinguishes, on the one hand, from Western wayswhich are defined as less moral than Indian ways. Two3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 136respondents describe how they pick up these stereotypes fromHindi films (see footnote #59):Rajesh: One of the stereotypes Indian people have ofwhite people is that they drink--Rani: If you watch some of the older movies from theearly seventies or late sixties, whenever they wouldportray someone white, or an East Indian woman who wasvery Western, she'd be wearing very tight clothes thatnobody would really wear, and she'd have a glass ofwine in her hand or be smoking a cigarette. That'ssomething that East Indian women just don't do.On the other hand, abstinence from liquor also sym-bolically distinguishes from "working class" Sikhs who arereputated to be heavy drinkers. As Ward suggests, a group's"immediate model" of itself is typically evaluated as supe-rior to their "insider observer's models" of others. Thissuperiority is similarly applied to perceived behaviour inrelation to children:The other thing is we have a certain belief, a verystrong belief in family. . . . I think we all are veryloyal to our children. . . . in other words we will notdo anything which will cause neglect of the children, orleaving them too much on their own. (ibid)Family is a strong South Asian value. A characteristic ofthis group is a strong commitment to including children inall activities. As Mr. Bindi explains:In the beginning we had some friends who had adultparties . . . some Indian, some Caucasian. And I foundit very uncomfortable to leave my daughter withsomebody-- . . . there was no problem with good babysit-ters, but I didn't like that system. So we gravitatedmore and more to this group, because in this group thenorm was that you don't leave your [kids] with babysit-ters. Your kids have to go with you, so you are seeking3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 137those families who also want to bring their children. .. . I think raising children, it has to be a communityaffair, at least a large part of it. Individuals have arole, between husband and wife is very difficult toraise it. We kind of developed a small commune, if youlike, and within this commune there was a lot of freedom. . . but we came together for social interaction,cultural interaction. (ibid)However, one member of the group who strongly advocates thestrength of the Indian family, including his own, iscriticized by another as not living up to his "immediatemodel":They would have completely different adult-orientedentertainment, adult-oriented work environment. When-ever we went to their house, it struck me as most oddthat we never talked to their kids. We just didn't knowwhere they were. Every time you go there, 'Where arethey?' 'Oh, they're studying,' or 'They're out withtheir friends,' or 'They had to go to visit somewhere.'I felt emptiness because, to my mind, knowing you isalso knowing your family. Just in-built, I just don'tfeel comfortable. So our friendships don't go very deepunless we know the family.The two have different "immediate models" of what familymeans, and both of them positively compare their own con-ceptualizations to a Western one.Mr. Bindi goes on to describe some other character-istics of The Family Friends Circle:When it comes to family--and education may be anotherone. I don't know how to define. The list keeps get-ting longer. The value of education is understood byeach one of us without any coaching. So when it comesto educating children, money is no object. Like in noneof these families you will ever see that they will say,'Okay, you've done your high school, go and earn on yourown.' And I think it's a very good Canadian virtue tolet the kids appreciate the value of money. But the waywe apply it is different. (TT-2)3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 138The high value placed on education and their sense ofresponsibility to educating their children is contrastedwith three negative reference groups. One is "Canadians"who are characterized as not taking full financialresponsibility for their children. A second is workingclass Sikhs whom several respondents described to me ashaving an attitude that high school is enough because it wasenough for their parents (TT-7, TT-11, I-1). A third isthose who are characterized as "closed-minded" or "tradi-tional" families who do not see the value of educating theirdaughters equally to their sons.Mr. Bindi also describes how shared experiencesbased on similar backgrounds play an important role in thecohesiveness of The Family Friends Circle:And one thing which puts us together is the kinds ofdevotional music we like. There are some bhajans ormusic which we quickly remember. Like this is one ofthe good things we share when we get together. As a kidI heard this bhajan from my mother. And they'll say,"Oh yea, my mother used to sing it too." It quicklybrings the relationship together. I think shared expe-riences are very important to make friends. Sharedexperiences as a child already. A lot of--it's amazinghow much time we spend in reminiscing. . . . So in ourgroup, I find a lot of things I did as a kid as verysimilar to a lot of things they did as a kid. The kindof food, the kind of sabji, vegetables, they ate, theway they were made, and so on. (TT-2)In summary, this Family Friends Circle defines themselves assharing high levels of education and taking fullresponsibility to see their children through high levels of3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 139education; strong family relationships which provide mutualsupport and in which children are a priority; customs,upbringing, food, and songs; and abstinence.THE EXTENDED FAMILY AS CONTINUING IDEALThe characteristics of the ideal extended familysystem in India are patrilineal descent, virilocalresidence, patriarchal authority, filial and fraternalsolidarity, pooled financial resources, and individual andfamily status dependent on the reputation of all members.Expectations and obligations include the maintenance of thefamily's reputation by each member through appropriatebehaviour, mutual aid, the communal celebration of sig-nificant life cycle rituals, the responsibility of thosewith authority for those below them, the responsibility torespect and honour those above one, and the maleresponsibility to protect the women of the family. 73The Indian extended family system as a conceptualideal and a social network continues to be important forIndians in Vancouver. 74 Individuals who came here without73See Mandelbaum (1970) and Singer (1972:286-304)for a description of India's joint family system, its ideal,its variations, and its developmental stages. See alsoKurian (1974).74cf. Nath 1973:8-9. Ames and Inglis (1973-4) docu-ment the continuing significance of joint family ideals toSikhs in Vancouver, and its form and practice here. Seealso Srivastava (1974), and Wood (1984:69-114).For the continuing significance of the extended fam-ily system in industrialized urban India, see Ames (1973),3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 140family networks have recreated fictive kinship networkswhich aim to serve similar functions as in India. As Mr.Bindi says, "We have made our kind of family circle,although it is a friends circle, but close" (TT-2).Members define their group as a "community family,""modified extended family," "social security system," and"support group." The Family Friends Circle functions as afictive extended family network which assures the securityof a mutual support system, nepotistic business arrange-ments, a forum for maintaining and passing on culturalvalues, and a long-term set of relationships. 75Positive Indian values are often contrasted to whatis perceived to be the norm in Canada or North America andwhich serves as a negative reference group. Family is onepoint of contrast:. . . this is one good thing in Indians, mind you, thatthey are very, very family-minded, no matter who theyare. . . that is one big difference I see in Canada, Imean in Western countries . . . And the other thing,they are very close to the children--although it allcomes into the family umbrella. They would do anythingfor the children. They don't have money, they wouldtake a loan, and give them the best whatever they can doit. (TT-7)Beteille (1964), Freed and Freed (1982), and Singer (1972).75cf. Gould (1963) who describes similar adaptivefunctions of caste in contemporary urban India.3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 141The descriptions and functions of this "modifiedextended family" correspond closely to the reasons given inresponse to a question about preference for family form in astudy undertaken in India. Freed and Freed (1982:199)report:that the cited reasons [for preferring the joint overthe nuclear family form] related to economics and mutualaid (e.g., assistance in case of illness or misfortune,lower costs, greater financial strength, and strength ina fight) and emotional reasons (e.g., one is notlonesome, greater family prestige, plenty of love).In practice, those who left India themselves haveoften struck out independently from their own familiesthere, and have here come to further value that independ-ence. Mr. Bindi, for example, tells about his own situa-tion:My father passed away in India--he never saw me after Ileft India--and I had some serious disagreements withhim when I left India, in terms of he didn't want me toreally come here. He always opposed my coming to NorthAmerica. (TT-2)Mrs. Ghosh explains why she prefers to be here:And that's the reason I never went back to India. Iwould never have any independence there. I would alwaysbe somebody's daughter, or somebody's sister, or some-body's something. I wouldn't be myself. (TT-14)Mrs. Kapoor admits that she recognizes a disparity betweenher own "ideal" and "immediate models":Mind you, I'm telling you [about the family system], butI'm very independent because I'm living on my own [i.e.in a nuclear family] for so long, but this is the ideabehind it. (TT-7)3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 142Chapter Six will show that the extended family con-tinues to serve as an ideal of family for Yuva members.CHAPTER CONCLUSIONIn summary, the Family Friends Circle has formed onthe basis of shared attributes (including region of birth,religion, and language), and shared upbringing (memories,type of music, food, customs, social functions). The valuesdescribed as characteristic and shared define their"immediate model" as contrasted to their "internalobserver's model" of other Indians and North Americans orCanadians. Their "immediate model" or definitions of them-selves includes abstinence (in practice, social drinkingrather than perceived more extravagant drinking of others),which is symbolic of class difference; no smoking; placing apriority on children and maintaining mutual parent-childobligations; a high value placed on education; and preserv-ing the importance of the family.It is within this fictive extended family that chil-dren learn about the rules of social interaction, abouttheir rights and obligations, and about their culture. Yuvamembers who belong to The Family Friends Circle interactwith the adults as part of their extended family, approach-ing them for advice, assistance, or support.When Mrs. Ghosh suggests that, "This will becometheir old boys network . . . They've [i.e. young people] now3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 143got a community based network, which will be really usefulfor them and give them a sense of belonging as they becomemature" (TT-14), she is expressing her perception of Yuva asa continuation of this kind of network for both social andbusiness support.Members of The Family Friends Circle distinguishthemselves from others on the basis of class. They place anemphasis on education and relate this to urban upbringingand professional or business status which, they posit,results in a "modern" or "liberal" outlook. In contrast,their "internal observers' models" of others emphasize lackof education, "village" or "rural" upbringing, residentialconcentration, isolation, and an adherence to "traditional"or "old fashioned" values.An "ideological model" or ideal definition of anIndian community is posited by both youth and adults. Mem-bership is defined by such attributes as ultimate origin inIndia, Indic language, food, clothing, and appearance, aswell as by shared values, standards of behaviour, and prob-lems. The youth recognize self ascription and are uncertainabout whether to include those whom they perceive as main-taining a social distance from other Indians.An definition of community is also described. Mem-bers of the Bengali society, Gujarati caste groups, and Fam-ily Friends Circle, suggest that an ideal community, like3:ETHNOGRAPHIC CONTEXT 144their own, is small enough to allow all members to know eachother, have "close contact," and be mutually supportive.The following chapter describes Yuva, established bythe youth of The Family Friends Circle. It will alsoinclude an assessment of two theoretical approaches for theunderstanding of youth and ethnic identity, and will suggestan additional usefulness of a symbolic interactionist frame-work.145Chapter 4YUVA: INTEGRATING "INDIAN CULTURE"YUVAYuva means youth. It's a Hindi word that we decided touse because it was easy to pronounce by Indo-Canadiansand non-Indo-Canadians, and also because it sort ofrepresented what our group is about. 76 (TT-14)ORIGINS: INDIA CLUB, THE FAMILY FRIENDS CIRCLE Indian organizations inevitably question how tomaintain the interest and participation of their youth.India Club is one of these. India Club of Vancouver is asocial and community service organization of professionals(doctors, professors and teachers, engineers, businesspeople), originated in 1968. Typically, it began with agroup of individuals sitting and talking in someone's homeand turning to the question of how they can preserve"India's rich cultural heritage" and how they can maintainthe interest and participation of their children. Aninformal agreement leads to the establishment of a Society.760ne of the Government of India's three major youthservice schemes is called the Nehru Yuva Kendra (Saraswathi1988).4:YUVA^146News of it is spread by word of mouth. India Club soon hadfifty to sixty member families.The main objectives of India Club are:(i) to promote a better understanding and interchangeof cultures and traditions of India and Canada;(ii) to build up community spirit and to engage in workof moral, benevolent, charitable, philanthropic, socialand community service nature. (Sikka 1986:21)Annual social events include a wine and cheeseparty, Halloween party, Christmas party, retreat at Whistlercomplete with talent show, and picnic. A Past Presidentexplained to me that, along with the service mandate ofIndia Club, its two goals are to foster Indian culture andto foster integration into Canadian society. He considersboth essential. Yuva continues with these two goals.In practice, however, for both organizations,integration into Canadian society still means doing moreCanadian things, but with other Indians. The discrepancy ismost commonly rationalized by the statement, "everyone iswelcome." But others are not actively invited, except forthe occasional personal friends of some individuals andpolitical representatives invited as "special guests."India Club has, however, reached out with communityactivities which include the donation of a bronze bust ofMahatma Gandhi to Simon Fraser University in 1969--aninitiative which eventually resulted in several municipal4:YUVA^147declarations (in Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, Coquitlam,Langley, and New Westminster) of October second as Gandhiday; an annual Gandhi Jayanti garlanding ceremony andprogram held at Simon Fraser University; an annual walk-a-thon in Stanley Park to raise funds for Operation Eyesight;awarding a number of scholarships in the city for Indianstudents; and the organization of an annual "Mehfil-e-gazal."These activities aim to reach outwards to create anIndian presence in the wider society. In practice, theystill engage primarily Indians as participants. Breton(1964:197) observes on the basis of his study, that "theexistence of an institution in the group would tend to havethe observed effect on the cohesiveness of the ethnic groupirrespective of its orientation toward the native and itsown national culture." Another example is India MusicSociety. That organization advocates cross-cultural parti-cipation and initiates cross-cultural activities. It must,nevertheless, continually work against the powerful effectsof its Indian orientation which continues to draw the major-ity of its audience from the Indian population. It in turnthen strengthens the sense of a vital Indian community. 7777At the time of completion of this dissertation,India Club sponsored an event which, to my mind, is a sig-nificant cross-cultural initiative. For the third consecu-tive year, India Club has, on the occassion of GandhiJayanti, Mahatma Gandhi's birthday, awarded a Gandhi Peaceaward to a non-Indian. This year, October 2, 1993, the4:YUVA^148THE FORMATION OF YUVA In the summer of 1989 India Club encouraged a youthgroup to form under their umbrella. Mr. Lal, a Past Presi-dent of India Club explains:Every year at our annual general meeting it came up thatthey are all an aging population, the first generationimmigrants. How can we sustain the India Club? Kidswould not be actively involved because most of theactivities of India Club were geared to the India-typethings, like what we enjoy as first generationimmigrants. So then we said, 'Why don't we get the kidsto form their own thing . . . and we will guide them andhelp them, financially and otherwise.' . . . I got twoor three kids . . . twenty years old, who I thoughtwould pull this off. . . . They were . . . as if theywere just waiting in the wings. (TT-12)The last observation concurs with experiences of those whowork at South Asian service organization and find youtheager to take part in discussions and activities (see "GroupDiscussions" in Chapter Two). Those "two or three kids,"plus the rest who initially joined them on the council andthe core membership were drawn from The Family Friends Cir-cle. Mr. Lal further explains how India Club helped to getthe young people started:So we started them out with a hundred dollars to do amail out . . . and India club also guaranteed a no losssituation. If at the last minute nobody showed up andthey paid for the hall or something, we would look afterit, but if they made, then it's fine. And then we alsohelped them in a couple of other ways. We have anannual concert that we hold at Gateway Theatre. Weusually hire ushers for fifty dollars, so we said, 'Whydon't you guys be the ushers'--they are not interestedin the program but they could be the ushers--'and we'llgive you a hundred bucks.' So we'll save money and--andthey organized part of Halloween program. This is4:YUVA^149mostly a local program. To make it more Canadianized wesaid, 'You organize it. We will just rent the hall,bring the food, things like that . But you do thecultural part.' (ibid)There is an irony here in that India Club has encouragedYuva in order that the youth may have more involvement withIndia Club or Indian culture and people. Yet the firstthing which they engage Yuva to undertake for them is aNorth American cultural activity, Halloween. This isreminiscent of New Year's parties bringing together adultsof The Family Friends Circle (see "The Family Friends Cir-cle" in Chapter Three. The implications will be drawn outin the concluding chapter.). 78The creation of Yuva coincides with a growing popu-lation of teens and young adults in Hindu families (ChapterThree). Kumar, one of the original members, explains thatIndia Club started about fifteen to twenty years ago whenthe adults were in their late twenties and thirties. Nowthey are in their forties and their children are grown anddo not participate as much any more.award was presented to Ovide Mercredi, National Chief,Assembly of First Nations. The event drew a large audiencewhich included South Asian Indians, First Nations people,and "non-Indians," and included speeches by recognized pub-lic figures.78New Year--i.e. January first and not a Hindu newyear--is one of the most highly attended days at the V.H.P.Individuals who hardly attend during the whole year, make apoint of coming with their whole families on this day. Aterm applied to Indians who only visit the mandir on specialoccasions is, "Diwali Hindu." "New Year Hindu" might be amore appropriate term in light of my observations. Diwali4:YUVA^150The president sort of recognized that and I guess hetalked to a few of us and said, 'Why don't you guys dosomething to change this?' He talked to us and me and afew of us. Four other people got together in June andwe just said, 'Okay, well, why don't we do this. Andwhy don't we just start off with something like a bar-becue and we'll call all the kids of the families inthis Club, and we'll also call other people. Becausefirst of all there aren't that many kids and, you know,we wanted to invite as many people as we could. And itstarted from there. We had a barbecue and then we had adance and then we had some, you know, we put togetherskits, Indian skit about this Indian with a very badunderstanding of the English language. He comes toEngland and all the troubles he has with his accent andso on. Then we showed the skit a couple of times and itsort of took off from that. And now we're a year and ahalf old. (TT-14, September 20, 1990).Mr. Bindi, a member of both India Club and The Fam-ily Friends Circle, explains the relationship between thesetwo groups:India Club . . . has somewhat different ideal than thisextended family. This extended family is somewhat nar-row in their approach. So I relate to this group, but Ialso relate to India Club on a different plane. Becausein this group there are very few people who like tospeak in public or who like to set up programs. . . . Ido . . . India Club is a kind of umbrella group whichcuts through the language of narrow cultural boundaries.It is open to Muslim, it is open to Pakistani or Fijian,anyone./ 9 (TT-2)day does not usually draw such a high attendance because a)it usually falls on a weekday, b) many people prefer tovisit family and friends, and c) the big Diwali events inVancouver are the cultural shows.79The actual degree of diversity of India Club'smembership is not clear to me. On the one hand, anotherPast President confirmed the ideal of diversity when heexplained that, "India Club prides itself in saying that weare apolitical, non religious, non-denominational. They'reonly here as a service club for the Indian society. . . .India Club has Sikhs in it and Hindus." Yet, on the otherhand, in response to a question about whether there wereIsmaili members, he told me that: "There aren't any, because4:YUVA^151Kumar and Mrs. Ghosh, describe what Yuva membershave in common:Kumar: I'm the oldest, I'm twenty-two, and the rest ofthe people are twenty or younger. Age group is thirteen to twenty-five--Mrs. Ghosh: And most are children of first generationimmigrants, so there is that common thread, and mostparents have origins in India--they may have come fromKenya or Africa--so they've gone through a lot ofbicultural experience, first Indian, then Canadian andIndian combination. So they all understand eachothers' problems . . . that's what I find is key.Parents not allowing the daughters to go out on dates,how they dress, double standards. (TT-14)The core members of Yuva have the enthusiastic sup-port of their parents. Since dating is such a controversialissue in Indian families, many parents prefer that theirteens at least meet other Indians rather than just anyone ofthe opposite sex (Srivastava 1974:385, Wakil et al.1981:934). Therefore the parents allow some independenceand a certain amount of controlled interaction between thesexes and between different Indian groups. Yuva is a com-promise between the desires of parents to keep their chil-dren active in "the community" by maintaining social linkswith other Indians, and the children's desires for greaterindependence and to meet other young people. Rajesh thinksthat Yuva fills a need for young people whose parents feelthis way:see, it was primarily started by immigrants from India.Although there is a couple of people now from countries--like Ghayanese, one person is Indian origin from Ghayana,Ismailis there might be some in the future--but nobody has4:YUVA 152Like I see Yuva for a lot of younger students, kidsfourteen, fifteen, people who have a lot of restrictionson where they go and so on. Their parents feel mostcomfortable having them go to an organization that'scentered for Indian students. (TT-16)This was discussed in one of the Yuva group discus-sions in response to my question about why social dances,Yuva's most popular events, are allowed:Ramesh (Gujarati Hindu): Well I think in the communityit's okay, but if it was some other type of dance--Manjit (Sikh): We had a major problem in our group [SikhStudents Association] at U.B.C. about dances, andthere's no dances allowed at our functions.Ranjit (Sikh): Our parents aren't quite as strict asother East Indian parents. It's also 'cause we'reolder now . . . A lot of Punjabi parents are reallystrict and they don't allow that with their kids evenwhen they do get older. I guess it just depends, butmost Punjabi parents, they wouldn't encourage it.Kumar (Hindi speaking Hindu): They [parents] might allowpeople to go to a dance because they know it's in agroup and it's a group atmosphere and you're notreally individual. They would never, in most cases,allow dating. But because they know it's a groupatmosphere--like they might not know the specifics ofwhat happens at a dance, they might not be concernedabout any of the specifics, but just because there's agroup of people, they're not as concerned. Well, Iguess they know it's mostly Indians . . . Individualgoing out with somebody would not be--having a guycome over to your house and pick you up if you're agirl [laughter from girls] would not be, uh--you know,'We're going to the dance, see you.'Ranjit: You go with your girl friends.Kumar: Yea, exactly. That [referring back to guy pick-ing girl up at her home] would definitely not be thenorm. Even if they were going to the dance, it wouldnot be the norm. But just if you're going in a groupof people to a dance, it's not considered--I guessshown that much interest."4:YUVA^153it's one of the eas[y]--they can let that go, typething. (TT-Y1)Parents also support the opportunity for their chil-dren to learn about and maintain some cultural traditions,as Mrs. Nandi suggests: "They will learn something if theyare all together . . . then everybody's culture is main-tained" (TT-9). Mrs. Ghosh more altruistically recognizesthe need for teens to come to terms with their dualidentities:If Yuva was not there . . . they would not have a placewhere they could do their things in their way which wasuniquely Canadian and Indian at the same time. So it isa great way for them to express what is important tothem and how they want to do things. (TT-14)Mr. Lal finds that it also provides a good opportunity tolearn organizational skills (TT-12).^ -These members whose parents support them have,however, spoken about others whose parents' attitudes towardYuva ranges from ambivalence to distrust. They fear thatoften those youth who need support and who need to sharetheir feelings the most are the ones who are not allowed totake part. They describe how many parents retain strictcontrol over their children's social lives in order to tryto avert what they consider to be negative influences.Reputation serves a function here. The importanceof reputation is strongly and frequently criticized by Yuvamembers (see "A Family Event" in Chapter Six). An4:YUVA^154unrecognized consequence, however, is that it allows com-promise and transformation to take place. Giddens(1984:173-4) argues that structures serve not only as con-straints but also as enabling circumstances:Each of the various forms of constraint are thus also,in varying ways, forms of enablement. They serve toopen up certain possibilities of action at the same timeas they restrict or deny others."In more everyday language, every 'can't' can also be seen asa 'don't have to;' every 'have to' as an 'able to.'To apply this to the situation under discussion, thecontrol which Yuva parents have over their children is notmerely a constraint. A key to acceptance, according tothose who are supportive of Yuva, is the involvement ofindividual young people who have "good reputations," or theactive support of parents who are known to be of good stand-ing in the community. Yuva activities are legitimate in theeyes of parents to the extent that participants and advo-cates are those members of the community who have goodreputations." Parents who are hesitant may be persuaded bya community member of good standing through a personal phone"OASIS (Orientation Adjustment Services forImmigrants Society) has also found with their youth programsthat they must have an adult--i.e. someone married and pre-ferably with children--involved and taking responsibility.They are trying to institute a system where such an adultwill personally contact the parents for support. They alsotry to get the kids to be responsible by letting them knowthat parents' permission depends on their reputation. (I-6)4:YUVA 155call. Or they may allow their children to attend if they gowith someone known to them as being from a family of goodreputation. When I asked about the presence at a dance of ayoung woman whose parents I know to be highly religious andstrict, she answered:Anita: They [her parents] don't mind because they know[Kumar] and they know [Jyoti] and [Narendra] and thepeople I hang out with. They're more open-minded.They still ask, 'Oh, when are you going to be back?'and this and that--Jyoti: And 'Who's going to be there?'Anita: And 'Don't dance with anyone you don't know.Just dance with [Narendra, Jyoti's brother] and [Ram,another friend's brother].' (TT-Y2)Kumar explains this too:They'd [the parents] much rather see that [kids beingwith other Indo-Canadians] than have them go out just ontheir own with anybody. They know where they're going,they know it's a dance with Yuva. Even if it's thefirst time, at least the people there are kids of--a lotof them are the sons and daughters of people that theyknow. For the [Rama]'s, [Jyoti]'s the daughter of oneof their best friends, so it's okay if the daughters gothere. And all the [Lal]'s know it's a Yuva thing andall the kids are involved so they don't mind if theirkids go. (TT-15)Active members slowly try to build trust and reputation, andlet word of mouth bring over others:Kumar: I think word of mouth is the biggest thing. Whathappens a lot of times is some parents tell--theyassociate regularly at parties with other Indians--some parents, they tell these people they talk to . .. they go home and tell their son or daughter, 'Hey,there's this, why don't you go.' What usually happensis they end up--not the kid but the parent--ends upcalling me, 'Well my son is doing this, so can youtalk to him'-- [laugh]4:YUVA^156Mrs. Ghosh: 'Can you get him involved?'.^.^.Kumar: I think the parents would always like . . . theirkids to associate with other Indian kids, but some-times the kids, youth, think, 'Ah, it's not cool, Idon't want to hang around with other Indians.' (TT-14)Yuva realizes that their existence depends on thegood will of parents. To maintain a good standing requiresthe scrupulous monitoring of activities and members by thecouncil. To this end, they informally attempt to screenmembership so that they can expand in a controlled way.They have tried to do this by limiting the number of guestsa member may bring to an event; limiting the number of non-members which may attend an event; encouraging commitmentthrough membership rather than attendance without member-ship; and by insisting on certain basic rules such asacceptance of a wide age range, no alcohol, and some familyevents.Confident in the good reputation, self-motivation,and commitment of Yuva's leaders, India Club gave Yuva agreat deal of independence. This places the youth in thesituation of being able to "make a difference" or to have"transformative capabilities" (Giddens 1984:14-15) in rela-tion to defining their world. The youth have taken thisopportunity to try to deal with issues that they think are4:YUVA^157important and to implement activities according to their ownvisions.YUVA'S AGENDAYuva's mission statement, as printed in all issuesof their newsletter, the Yuva Yakker, defines their agenda"to promote, organize, and implement successful cultural andrecreational activities for Indo-Canadian youths." Theyemphasize that they aim to provide occasions for "differenttypes of Indians" to be able to socialize, discuss theircommon experiences and problems, develop a sense of prideand confidence in their identities, and learn about theirown and each others' cultures. In this way they hope tobreak down some of the religious, linguistic, regional,socio-economic, caste, and family barriers that they regu-larly encounter.My first introduction to Yuva was at a council meet-ing called to select new council members from a list ofapplicants who had already been interviewed. At stake wasthe expansion of Yuva and the viability of its existence.Attendance at activities had slumped. The present councilrealized that they needed "new blood." They had decided onexpanding the council to eight members and so had threespaces to fill.Their initial criteria were enthusiasm, energy, andthe commitment to devote time and effort into making Yuva4:YUVA^158work. The viability of the organization depends entirely onits council members and their industriousness. Plans aremade at council meetings and by phone. Meetings are held atmembers' homes on a rotating basis. These must be squeezedbetween exams and school assignments and are sometimes post-poned several times in order to ensure an adequateattendance. The Yuva Yakker is printed approximately fourtimes a year. Information about events is communicatedprimarily by phone (calls are shared by council members), byoccasional announcements on Indrahanush, and by articles incommunity publications.In January 1991, the selection committee aimed tofill three additional criteria. Two criteria which wereconstantly stressed at the meeting were 1) "expansion" -i.e. knowing a lot of people, and 2) "diversity" (in thecouncil itself and in the range of connections of councilmembers) - i.e. knowing "different types of Indians." Theywere convinced that in order to achieve their vision ofcreating a pan Indo-Canadian organization, they needed coun-cil members who did not belong to The Family Friends Circleof Hindus. This was not easy since most of the applicantswere Hindus and friends of the original council members. Itwas difficult to choose between those applicants whom theyknew well and could count on, and someone unknown who could,however, bring in new connections. They could not be sure4:YUVA^159that new members would share the same priorities. Neverthe-less, one of their priorities was to overcome the segmenta-tion, cliquishness, stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimina-tion which they see between Indians. 81 With this in mind,they selected a Sikh, a Gujarati, and a Hindu who has Sikhfriends, all good friends of the selection committee.What they have undertaken is not easy. Diversitybrings problems: attracting those whose interests and back-grounds are different from those of the current founders andmembers, maintaining a unified vision and agenda while alsotrying to include diversity, and crossing cultural (reli-gious, linguistic, regional) boundaries. Furthermore,expansion and diversification are at odds with a mode ofinteraction based on close personal contact, to which theyimplicitly subscribe, as they explicitly aim to target allIndo-Canadians. This is expressed in their attempts tomaintain good reputations with their families; in theirmethods of contacting all members personally about events;and their insistence that new members must be friends ofcurrent members, and new participants in events must beaccompanied by a member.81Little literature addresses these issues. Buchig-nani (1987:124) comments on the lack of research carried outconcerning South Asian inter-group relations. Exceptionsinclude Buchignani (1980b), Dusenbery (1981), and Mathur(1991).4:YUVA^160A third criterion was to have at least one fourteenor fifteen year old representative on council, in order toencourage the participation of more young people. Yuva'starget age group is fourteen to twenty-two. The older oneshave a special commitment toward their siblings and othersin their early and mid-teens. Kamla, twenty-two, is adamantabout this:Once you turn nineteen you can basically do whatever youwant. . . . But to me, fourteen, you start high school,you want a sense of belonging, you want a sense ofcultural identity. I remember in Grade Eight and Nine Iwas a really lost child. I didn't know what--somethinglike this would have really helped me. I would havefelt that I belonged to a group and I had a group offriends. And I want these kids to feel that way. So Ifeel very strongly and I think a lot of the other peopleon council feel that way too. We had no hesitationabout starting at fourteen when we started it. (TT-1)The older ones realize that the younger ones do not alwayshave the self-knowledge or confidence to cope with the pres-sures of conflicting cultural values. Nor do they have thesame freedom of movement as their older siblings, and so donot have as many opportunities to communicate with peers.The older ones report experiencing feelings of con-fused identity at some time while growing up. They commonlyspeak about going through stages of neglecting or rejectinginvolvement in anything Indian, and then rediscovering itsimportance as they reach mid to late teens and earlytwenties: 8282Similar stages in identity development are notedamong Indian youth in Britain (Ballard 1979) and in the4:YUVA^161Manjit (age 20): I think it has to do with self aware-ness, to know who you are and where you come from, tofeel more confident when you go to the mainstreamsociety so you don't feel confused, you don't have anidentity crisis. And I think also that it hits you ata certain age. When you get out of high school, whenyou get a little bit older, then you start askingquestions like, 'Who am I?' When you're younger youdon't really pay attention to that kind of stuff.• •^•Kumar (age 23): I found that when I was between the agesof ten and sixteen I almost forgot Hindi completely.I just said, 'Who wants to learn this? Who wants tospeak Hindi?' Then after sixteen, seventeen, mainlyin University [he took Hindi 310], I started gettingit all back and I started speaking more here and alsoin India.• •^•Ramesh (age 23): I really don't have that much Indianculture. I know it's sad but it's true.Kumar: You might.Ramesh: I know I might, although my parents are reallyreligious and know a lot about religion--it's likethey go to the temple every Sunday. . . . They'rereally involved, my brother and I hardly go. I don'tknow why it is. We go sometimes but we're not totallydedicated.Kumar: Do your parents always ask you or do they justlet you do what you wanted to do?Ramesh: Sometimes they ask me, usually when there's aspecial function. Then we go. But like usually it'snot something that happens, they don't even ask.Kumar: Yea, but have they asked you in the past or hasit always been like . . . 'Well if you guys want tocome'?United States (Basu 1989).4:YUVA^162Ramesh: When we were young, always we had to go, yea.But as you grow older they hardly ask. But I knowthey wanted me to be a lot more involved. I don'tknow why. I don't know if I'm lazy or whatever.•^•^•Ranjit (age 19): I don't know if I should say this, butI never used to pay much attention to it [Sikhism] butnow it's starting to be really important to me. And Idon't know how far I'll go with that.•^•^•Manjit: Like I said before, you reach a certain age andthen you have to find out who you are. So everybody'sgoing around and trying to find out about their ownculture. Makes you feel more secure. (TT-Y1)In another interview, Vijay, age 18, expresses similar expe-riences:I wish I had known it [Gujarati] fluently. I didn'twant to learn then, and I don't regret not learning thenbut I do regret not knowing it. I don't think I wouldhave learned no matter what at that stage--I was GradeFour, Five. I knew I was Indian but it was not some-thing I thought too much about, so I didn't have aninterest in it then. . . . I was more of an Oreo--brownon the outside, white on the inside, that's what theysay--I was leaning more towards the white or the non-Indian Western culture when I was younger. Now I'm morelikely to do or be with people who are Indian--not thatI have anything against people that aren't. I thinkthere's a time, an age where everyone reaches, wherethey start realizing that it's about time they realizedexactly who they are and where they came from. And thenit's up to them to decide if they want to pursue and tryto preserve and learn more about what they are or shunit to one side. I chose to be more Indian than whitebut not to the extent that I was not assimilating.That's a choice you have to make. . . . It just happenedover time. I probably didn't even know I was doing itand before I knew it I kind of found myself in thatsituation. (TT-4)Sunil, from a Hindi speaking Hindu family has had a similarexperience:4:YUVA^163I think after Grade Twelve you sort of mature up and Irealize that-- . . . but I totally ignored them [otherIndians] from Grade Eight to Twelve. So I lost my--youknow, I didn't know my language at that time as well asI should have, and I didn't even know what my own cul-ture was about till after Grade Twelve. That's when I'started learning more about it. (TT-Y2)These experiences accord with Michael Fischer's(1986:195-97) description of ethnicity in America:. . . ethnicity is something reinvented and reinter-preted in each generation by each individual and that isoften something quite puzzling to the individual . . .it is something dynamic, often unsuccessfully repressedor avoided. . . . The recognition of something aboutone's essential being thus seems to stem from outsideone's immediate consciousness and control, and yetrequires an effort of self-definition.At this stage of recognizing that being Indian is an undeni-able component of their identity, Yuva members make thechoice to learn more about Indian culture and revitalizetheir own links to it.Where the others renew relationships with otherIndians as they get older, Jyoti, a Gujarati, finds she isjust beginning to gain confidence in meeting people fromother cultural backgrounds:I'm totally opposite to what [Sunil] says, because grow-ing up, I found that I had more Indian friends. BecauseI have a big family, and we used to always spend a lotof time with the family doing things with the family.If anything ever came up, it was--I would talk it outwith my cousins or [Anita] or [Shanti]. Whereas my, Iguess white friends, would be only the ones--I would seethem at school, talk to them at school, I'd give them acall once in a while, but it was nothing really tooclose. And I think it's now that I'm starting really tomeet--like going to college--that I'm starting to bemore open-minded towards other people. Because I find4:YUVA^164that I'm very closed-minded towards like white people orOrientals. I really don't want to get too close becauseI find that I really don't have much in common, so whatare we gonna talk about. But now I'm starting to figureout that it's easy to talk to other people, and they areinterested in you. (TT-T2)Jyoti still remains highly active in Indian activities,including Yuva. For all of them, Yuva providesopportunities to discuss how to balance these differentinterests.All of the above explanations reflect a growinginterest on the part of Yuva members in their Indian back-ground and in being with other Indians, which in turn leadsthem to an interest in Yuva. The young male respondentsmost often express regret at not learning more and takingmore interest when young. Girls generally grow up beingmore involved in dance, singing, language learning, andreligious functions. (This gender difference will beelaborated on in "Constructions of Gender" in Chapter Six).Kamla, a council member who has trained in Indianclassical dance and has taken part in many Indianactivities, observes that this active search for culturalroots is getting stronger:I think it's just become a lot more popular to reallyknow your roots. It's wonderful, I think, I mean that'sgreat. I just see a lot of people asking me now that Iwould never have thought were really interested. A lotof the guys that just never cared before, or didn'tthink they cared, they all of a sudden seem to be wakingup. 'There's a whole different culture out here, guys,let's go grab some.' So I really find it amusing but4:YUVA^165great. So I think the younger kids are much more con-scientiously trying. When we did it we sort of had itfed to us. These kids are trying to come out to it. . .. I find that I don't really want to leave Vancouverright now 'cause there's a lot of stuff happening hereand it's sort of exciting in terms of culturally. Ijust feel like there's some sort of a, not a renais-sance, but people are suddenly becoming so aware, andthere's all these discussion groups and things going on,and you want to be part of that. I think it's a reallyslow but important change, people are becoming moreaware of who they are. (TT-1)Yuva attempts to foster social networks and friend-ships through activities such as dances, barbecues, picnics,bowling and softball tournaments. In September 1990, Kumarexplained how in the first year or so Yuva concentrated onsocial activities:Our main goal right now is just to get some rapport inthe community so that . . . most of Indo-Canadians knowabout us, and they know that they can do something with -other Indians, that they can talk to other people ifthey want to. Just sort of identity . . . we like thesame sorts of things. And maybe just develop some sortof friendships . . . trying to achieve it although wetotally haven't. . . . We've hit the social ones, we'vehit some of the recreational ones, but we haven't hit alot of the cultural ones. We're starting to do that now'cause we're getting into talking with MOSAIC aboutIndian life, arranged marriages. . They're actuallydoing this and we're a big part of it because we haveabout seven or eight people that go. (TT-14, September25, 1990)Indian culture is incorporated through other kindsof activities. One is talent shows, a popular activitywhich they organize for India Club retreats or other socialgatherings. Here young people can demonstrate their skillsin Indian classical, semi-classical, folk, and popular4:YUVA^166dance, and perform air bands to popular film songs. Yuvaalso has an arrangement with India Music Society in whichthey provide the Society with reliable volunteer assistance.This in turn provides Yuva members with an exposure to clas-sical Indian arts. Yuva's major annual cultural event,which includes a cultural show, is the celebration of Holi,which is the subject of Chapters Five and Six.One of Yuva's long term goals is to foster more dis-cussion between Indian youth of all backgrounds. As Kumarmentioned, some members took part in a series of panel dis-cussions sponsored by South Asian Mosaic in 1990 to 1991.In the summer of 1991, Yuva held their own Yuva Youth Forumwhich they hoped would become an annual event. Theyidentified three issues of concern: prejudice and dis-crimination within the Indian community, dating, and paren-tal expectations. This forum was a step toward sharingexperiences and trying to resolve common problems. Thirtyyoung Indo-Canadians from a variety of backgrounds attendedand many experiences and opinions were exchanged in discus-sion.EXPERIENCES OF RACIAL PREJUDICE AND HOSTILITYMy observations, oblique references by respondentsto such experiences, and the descriptions of a few respond-ents, suggest that racial prejudice and hostility are expe-4:YUVA 167rienced by the respondents of this study. 83 Nevertheless,my study does not include a full examination of experiencesof racial prejudice and hostility. There are two reasonsfor this.One reason is the apparently sensitive nature ofracism among those whom I interviewed. Few respondentsspeak freely or directly about their experiences, althoughsome adult respondents did describe their experiences asvictims of verbal abuse and vandalism. Amongst Yuva mem-bers, some are outspoken about racial issues, but youthrespondents most often refer to such personal experiencesobliquely if at all. Cunningham (1990:293) comments on asimilar sensitivity--on her part and/or that of youth withwhom she came in contact--to discuss issues of racism untila closer relationship had developed between them. Ballard(1979:127) finds that:Young Asians who have been brought up and educated inBritain are constantly aware of being 'different', andthe experience of racial discrimination has the mostprofound effect on every individual. . . . Some are able83The finding of Robson and Breems' (1985) studyindicate that one in two Indo-Canadians have experiencedsome form of ethnic hostility.Few original studies have examined racial hostilitytoward Indo-Canadians (Nodwell and Guppy 1992). The follow-ing address this topic: Bolaria and Li 1985; Buchignani1980a; Buchignani and Indra 1981a; Chandra 1973; Henry(1983); Indra (1979a, 1979b); Jain (1984); Kanungo (1984b);Mathur (1990); Nodwell and Guppy (1992); Ramcharan (1984);Robson and Breems (1986). None of these specifically con-siders experiences of second generation youth.4:YUVA^168to retell their experiences of discrimination and abusewith ironic humour, others recognise the general exist-ence of racialism in Britain but find it intensely pain-ful to admit that it has directly affected them.I did not feel it appropriate to intrude on thesesensitivities since the study of racism was not central tomy interests.A second reason for not examining racial issuesfully is that Yuva members themselves explicitly choose tofocus on stereotyping, prejudices, and discriminationbetween Indians (as described in "Identity as a Problem inthe Construction of Knowledge" in Chapter One, andelaborated on in "Expansion and Diversification" in ChapterSix).This section will outline the experiences of Yuvamembers insofar as they discussed them, and as they relateto the central question of the construction of culture.Youth respondents indicate that most of their expe-riences as victims of racial hostility occur during theirelementary and secondary school years. Concurring with thefindings of Robson and Breems (1985), verbal abuse is themost common form of such hostility. 84 Cunningham (1990:127)similarly observes that, for the dance students whom sheinterviewed, "School life not infrequently involved racial84Skin colour and "jealousy" are the most frequentlycited causes suggested by their respondents.4:YUVA^169comments that were as hurtful to the parents as to the chil-dren." In response to a question asking whether he hadexperienced racism himself, one Yuva member, a university .student, describes experiences similar to those shared byothers:Oh spurts, I guess, more when I was really young and Ididn't know what people were talking about. If I'dknown then I really would have gone after them--morewhen I was like Grade One, elementary school, a lot ofthe older kids from high school used to--it was bad atime ago, now it's not so bad. They pick on people whocan't defend themselves. I was really young and I waswalking--I've been called bad things. . . . I've hadsome people calling me names. I haven't had bad, bad,bad things happen, but mainly names and stuff like that.His own self consciousness of being "brown" (exhibited onother occasions) and comments such as the following from oneof the Yuva discussion groups, suggest a correlation betweensuch experiences and the degree of self esteem as Indians:Ranjit: I was in one group and the point that came upwas that when a lot of us were younger, in elementaryschool, we were almost--Manjit: Not proud of our--Ranjit: Yea, not ashamed, but just not willing to showthat we were Indian. You were just almost reallyquiet and suppressed because you were a minority, butnow a lot of us are learning to be proud that we'reIndian. We speak Punjabi more openly and you're notembarrassed to wear an Indian suit in public andstuff. So definitely views are changing positively.Gita: I think when I was younger, like with my friendsand stuff, I didn't want to admit that I was Indian .. . they used to make fun of you . . . but as soon asyou get older--now my friends are like, 'Oh, that's soneat,' and they want to learn Indian culture. Nowpeople, I think, are actually more tolerant when youget older, more understanding--4:YUVA^170Ramesh (age 23): That's true. (TT-Y1)When individual youth feel that being Indian is a stigma,they wish to avoid that association (cf. Goffman 1963).Youth deal with racial experiences in a number ofways. One is to avoid associating with other Indians.Sunil explains a reason:When I was in Grades Eight to Grade Twelve I had a lotof non-Indian friends. But I think I was just--we allgo through this phase where we don't want to hang aroundwith our own people and you get this attitude sort of,'I'm special.' And if you have white friends it makesit look like you're more important and all that. (TT-Y2)Avoiding other Indians is posited to be a consequence ofnegative experiences:Rani: When they had Club's Day, I saw the booth for theIndian Students Association . . . They were reallysurprised that somebody actually came up to the boothand registered.Rajesh: A lot of people who would avoid it-- . • •E.N.: Even at university age?Rani: Very much so. . . . I've had people in my classeswhere they just will not sit with anyone East Indian.They won't talk to you, they'll turn if you're comingone way-- . . . I think what it is is just embarrass-ment . . . some people feel uncomfortable--it'sbecause you're different. Maybe growing up there issome prejudice. . . . I never heard the word, 'Paki'until Calgary, and I hated going to that city eversince . . . I never grew up with anything like that .. . and we knew a family there where a girl had gotteninto a fight at school with some other kids, and itwas just over racial differences, and I couldn'tunderstand that, and it really scared me, because thiswas something totally alien . . . a friend of ours wehad been staying with . . . said, 'If somebody callsyou "Paki" or something, don't get offended. We just4:YUVA 171say, "thank you." This is how we deal with it.' . .. every single person that went by me, I was so tensesomeone would call me this name. I was about thirteenor fourteen. . . .Rajesh: [In Vancouver] I've heard lots of people--notreally much after elementary school . . . I think itaffects everybody.Rani: They just deal with it differently. (TT-14)Another common way of dealing with racial prejudiceis to make light of it through humour. One young Gujaratiman describes this approach:I always make jokes. That's one thing Indians do,they'll make jokes about Hindus or Sikhs, or evenGujaratis for that matter. . . . it's something that ifwe laugh about it and we don't take it seriously thenit's not so much of a problem. Even in school I used toalways make jokes about Indians and East Indians. Icouldn't understand why I was doing it but I don't takeit too seriously. I only take it if it was meant in aderogatory sense and there are people have done that, -which gets upsetting after a while. But a lot of myfriends, they'll tell a joke, and the first thingthey'll do--if there's an East Indian in the joke--firstthing they do is turn to me and say, 'No offense.' Butit's part of the joke, so, you know, you live with it. .. . unless it's said by a brown person, because thenit's not considered a race reference. As long as it'snot meant in a derogatory sense you have to learn tolaugh at it. (TT-4)A third way to deal with racial prejudice is toassert one's cultural and racial identity and find a way tofind pride in it. This is what Yuva is undertaking: toshare experiences and to foster pride in Indian culture.Efforts at reappropriating a racial identity as apositive attribute may be seen in quips about being "brown."These surface in Yuva "graffiti," six to eight foot pieces4:YUVA^172of newsprint tacked up on the wall at the Yuva dances.These "graffiti" originated in a brainstorming session aboutwhat activities to do at dances to make them more interest-ing. One member had seen such "graffiti" at his school andsuggested the idea. Yuva council decided "just to put up afew pieces of paper to give people something to do andcreate some conversation." There was "no big deal aboutit."Most of the inscriptions on these "graffiti" arecaricatures of personal characteristics--physical andpersonality--and statements such as "[so-and-so] was here."Among these appear references to race. For example, "thebrown brothers," is scrawled on one, and a figure wearing aYuva tee shirt is drawn in the centre, accompanied by a cap-tion, "I'm brown."Further research is required to determine the rela-tionship between experiences of racial prejudice duringchildhood and the victim's interest in or rejection ofIndians and things Indian in later years. This case studysuggests that the need to pursue a sense of pride is atleast in part a response to experiences of racial prejudice,and that a growing interest in Indian culture among those intheir late teens represents a refusal to be shamed by whothey are. They are aided in this by what they perceive to4:YUVA^173be demonstrations of interest in Indian culture on the partof their non-Indian peers.SYMBOLIC AND SITUATIONAL ETHNICITYTwo theoretical approaches--"situational ethnicity"(Nagata 1974) and "symbolic ethnicity" (Gans 1979)--offersome explanation of Indo-Canadian youth attitudes towardstheir ethnic identity. I will outline their usefulness andthen describe how symbolic interactionism might offer adeeper understanding of the experiences of Indian youth inVancouver."Situational ethnicity" attempts to explain situa-tions where many ethnic groups reside together and whereethnic categories overlap and encompass one another. Thisapproach suggests that individuals do not hold a firm orexclusive commitment towards a single cultural identity.Self-identification may change according to expedience.This approach does have some limited use in understandingIndian youth.For example, most Indian girls have a wardrobe ofIndian clothing--saris and Punjabi "suits"--which they enjoywearing to family and Indian community events andactivities. They admire each other's new acquisitions inthe latest styles. Yet these same girls would not wearthese clothes to school. Even adult women can occasionally4:YUVA^174be seen to change out of their saris before leaving themandir on Sunday morning for an afternoon of shopping anderrands.This way of looking at identity corresponds to adescription given in an interview with British film direc-tor, Gurinder Chadha:. . . we knew that we were a bit Asian, a bit English;you know a mixture... but we did not have a crisis aboutit. I mean we knew when to speak in English, and whento speak in Punjabi. We knew how to behave when we wentto the Gurdwara (temple) with the family. We knew howto live in two cultures; that's what we were doing.[sic] (Hundal 1991:24)Personal identities may be mutually exclusive orencompassing and overlapping. When, in a Yuva group discus-sion, participants were asked whether they thought of them-selves in terms of being Sikh or Hindu, one young womanresponded, "a Sikh, Indo-Canadian, atheist, feminist. Ihave a long list" (TT-Y1).The perspective of situational ethnicity focuses onoutward behaviour and knowledge of how to act appropriatelyin different situations. Milton Singer (1972:272-380) des-cribes how individuals in India similarly "compartmentalize"their behaviours according to circumstance.Yuva members express an intense need to know whothey are. In addition to a normal adolescent search foridentity and self confidence, they also search for a satis-factory way to integrate Indian and North American culture4:YUVA^175into their lives (Weinreich 1979). Mrs. Ghosh, a parentwhose children have been very involved in the founding andgrowth of Yuva, explains what she sees:You see, what happens before this group was formed, youhave the youth talking to non-Indian youth at school andtheir parents. So they see two extremes. I mean thenthey say, 'Well your parents are either right or wrong,there's no in between.' . . . But then you meet peopleyour age who are in the same situation, and yet they'rehappy and they're doing things, and there is anidentity. There's I think that bond gives you thestrength to say, 'Okay, well fine, I'm having somedoubts about how to function, but then look at all thesepeople.' That's pretty valuable. (TT-14)For them, the cultural component is part of knowing who youare. Kamla, one of the founding members of Yuva and ahighly committed council member, expresses strong feelingsabout the need for a cultural identity when she says, "youstart high school, you want a sense of belonging, you want asense of cultural identity. I remember in Grade Eight andNine I was a really lost child" (TT-1). Kumar, also afounding member and highly active council member, expressesthis need in more general terms:I think a lot of people are--a lot of Indians--they havetrouble adjusting, they have trouble figuring out what,where they stand in society, what they can do, how theyshould react in situations. I feel that a lot of Indo-Canadians are not comfortable with everything, with thehome lifestyle, the attitudes of the parents. So Ithink what our group does, if anything, it gives them a,well it gives them some confidence. When they talk withpeople that they can relate to, when they have fun withthem, when they have barbecues and dances, they formsome sort of confidence in themselves. You know youreally can't achieve anything until you know exactly whoyou are, what you are. So I think that's what this4:YUVA^176does. Right now it's a bit small scale, but as itgrows-- (TT-14)One of the Sikh participants in the Yuva discussion groupsimilarly explained why she chose to take part in the dis-cussion group:I think it has to do with self awareness, to know whoyou are and where you come from, to feel more confidentwhen you go to the mainstream society, so you don't feelconfused, you don't have an identity crisis. (TT-Y1)Jyoti, a young Gujarati woman, and her teenagedbrother, Narendra, occasionally go to Africa to visit theirrelatives, where, according to their descriptions, culturaland religious traditions are adhered to more strongly thanin Vancouver. She resists the suggestion by her mother thatthey really change. She describes their outward adaptationto different environments as distinct from their own selfknowledge of who they are:My Mom says when we go to Africa we change. . . . Wejust don't want to be different . . . we just try to fitin. . . . Nobody can change in a few months on holidays.You are who you are and when we come back we just con-tinue the same way we are. But we just learn to adaptto what they're doing, we have lunch when they do, wehave Indian food, we start talking Gujarati more becausewe can communicate better. That's all it is. It's notthat we really do change when we're there. (TT-9)She makes a distinction between behaviours, which are theexpression of social identification with others, and a per-sonal, coherent sense of self identity.These young Indians are indeed adept at managingdifferent cultural situations. They know how to behave as4:YUVA 177"Indians" at home and with relatives, and as "Canadians" atschool, work, and with peers. It is the adaptive processwhich they use to "cope with two sets of values."Yet these previous statements seem to express a needto find wholeness and meaningfulness as individuals. 85Their search is not to find a way to be both Indian andCanadian. Their search is to find the confidence, knowl-edge, and pride to be Canadian as Indians. This is part ofthe process of their search for identity which includestaking possession of their heritage, and of affirming theirCanadianness as Indians (Nodwell 1993 <in press>) .8685This seems to correspond to the psychological con-cept of "identity achievement" as defined by Tonks (1990:7)as: "characterized by a subjective sense of wholeness which -is . . . characterized by the outcome of a process ofacquiring a subjective feeling of having found particulargoals values or beliefs [sic] which are not ordinarilyexpected to change. Although the actual content of thesegoals or beliefs may change, the feeling of security, orself-sureness, in a belief structure and the process ofobtaining that structure . . . is what makes the IA statusachieved." (his italics) Tonks compares and contrasts thiswith other identity orientations, i.e. "identitymoratorium," "identity foreclosure," and "identity diffu-sion."861 witnessed a striking example of integration inthe sense of being Canadian as Indian. On October 24, 1992the V.H.P. annual Diwali Cultural Evening was held at thetwelve hundred seat Vincent Massey Theatre to an overflowcrowd. The audience was this large in spite of the factthat, a week earlier, the Gujarati Society had held theirDiwali Variety Show in the same venue also to an overflowcrowd. The audiences for both shows are almost entirelyIndian. Commentaries are primarily in Hindi or Gujarati,and all items in the three to four hour shows are Indian.During the second half of the V.H.P. show, an announcementwas made that the Blue Jays had just won the world series.The cheer almost raised the roof. This simultaneous4:YUVA^178Anil, a twenty-two year old university student froma Gujarati Hindu family, explains:I think Indo-Canadian is a good term because it tells usthat we aren't just Indians, we aren't completelyCanadians--you know it's not like a melting pot wherewe're like America is, where you're American first andthen whatever you are afterwards. . . . We're Indianfirst in the sense that we should have the freedom andthe privilege to be whatever we want to be first, beforewe are loyal--like we'll always be loyal to the countrywe belong in--but where our heritage is and where we'refrom, that's all of who we are . . . I think that'sreally important. . . . they're kind of intertwinedtogether. (TT-4)Integrating Indian culture into their lives can beunderstood to refer to a search for an integrated life in amanner expressed by Fischer:To be Chinese-American is not the same thing as beingChinese in America. In this sense there is no rolemodel for becoming Chinese-American. It is a matter offinding a voice or style that does not violate one'sseveral components of identity. In part, such a processof assuming an ethnic identity is an insistence on apluralist, multidimensional, or multifaceted concept ofself: one can be many different things, and this per-sonal sense can be a crucible for a wider social ethosof pluralism. (Fischer 1986:195)Rani, born in Canada into an Indian family, studiesboth Indian classical dance and classical singing,celebrates Indian festivals with enthusiasm, holds dearvalues such as strong family ties, and accepts the obliga-tions which accompany such ties. She also insists that sheexpression of dual loyalties towards the Indian festival ofDiwali and a Canadian baseball team seemed to me to signalintegration, being Canadian as Indian.4:YUVA 179is first and foremost a Canadian. She takes keen and activeinterest in issues of concern to Canadians at large. Shedoes not define herself as part Indian and part Canadian.She strives to be a Canadian as an Indian and to integrateIndianness into her life as a Canadian. (TT-14; passim)"Symbolic ethnicity" is another theoretical approachwhich attempts to explain the display of minority culturalcharacteristics. Gans (1979) argues that ethnicity isinterest and circumstance driven, and therefore, by defini-tion, lacks true commitment. Ethnic identity is subscribedto where it is profitable to do so. 87Such displays of ethnicity do occur in my research.In one of the Yuva discussions, during a dialogue about whatbeing Indian means, two of the young women commented: "Ithink the clothing and food is what makes you different. Itkind of gives you an identity." "I know a lot of EastIndian girls love dressing up . . . just for the sake ofbeing different, it makes you feel really good" (TT-Y1).Where earlier I gave an example of Indian women and girlschoosing their ethnicity situationally by not wearing Indianclothing in mainstream settings, here the girls are choosingto make symbolic statements to outsiders about their ethnic87Gans' (1979) concept of "symbolic ethnicity" asinterest-driven is not to be confused with the use of sym-bols in the construction of social reality as used, forexample, by Cohen (1985; 1986).4:YUVA^180allegiance. On another occasion, Jyoti describes how dressidentifies her to insiders as belonging:"When we're going to someone's house . . . my Mom willsay, 'Wear a suit.' . . . my mother would want me tolook Indian. And by making me look Indian I have towear suits, so the suit gives me a sort of--like I'm anIndian girl type of--you know. (TT-9)Displays of ethnicity in dress or performance sug-gest outside observers. However, despite the stated objec-tives of many Indo-Canadians that they wish to "share cul-tures" with others, and apart from occasional multiculturalinitiatives in schools or society at large, in practice mostinvolvement in Indian activities takes place within theIndian community, among family and other Indians. Here itis not a matter of trying to be different. It is a matterof choosing to take part.Both "symbolic ethnicity" and "situational eth-nicity" are concerned with outward self-representations ofethnic identity. Both approaches provide a way of analyzingconstructions of identity of selves and others.Symbolic interactionism advances on this by examin-ing not just constructions of identity or the way onerepresents oneself. It also directs attention at the con-struction of the categories of identity and of the subjects'worlds. In this case, it leads one to examine not only inwhat circumstances and by what symbols or behaviour one maypresent oneself as Indian or as Canadian, but to examine how4:YUVA^181definitions of Indian and Canadian are collectively con-structed and understood. By interpreting, acting, anddefining, sujects construct their self definitions anddefine objectifications. In my case study I view the secondgeneration as agents in the construction of their culturalworld.Part III following will examine one event producedby Yuva, their Holi celebration. Through describing andanalyzing this event, I will discuss issues which impinge onits production and which give it meaning.PART III: YUVA'S HOLI CELEBRATION182183Chapter 5YUVA'S HOLI CELEBRATION: DESCRIPTIONWhat about cultural activities?"We have to have Holi, definitely a Holi party."It'll be a family event.With a talent show."Holi Smokes!" (paraphrased from notes except what isnoted as quotations) 88The eight council members of Yuva are planning theiractivities for 1991. Dances, softball games, bowlingnights, a food drive, and assisting India Club and IndiaMusic Society are on the agenda. So are some "culturalevents" such as the celebration of Holi.881 did not tape Yuva council meetings. I tookhand-written notes which I elaborated from memoryimmediately afterwards. Throughout this dissertation blockindentations indicate exact quotations except where noted inthis chapter as paraphrases. In those cases, portions ofexact quotations appear in quotation marks.Yuva council meetings relating to the planning of theHoli celebration took place: Feb. 3, 1991, Feb. 17, 1991,March 10, 1991 (NB-111:2-7, 43-48, 55-61). Additionalinformation about Holi comes from participant-observation atYuva's Holi party (0-5), participant observation at otherHoli activities, and scattered references in interviews andconversations.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 184Like the fall festival of Diwali, Holi is one of themajor Hindu festivals celebrated all over India. 89 It takesplace on the full moon day (February 28 in 1991) of theHindu lunar month of Phalgun which falls in February orMarch. Both Diwali and Holi are considered to be New Yearby some Hindus, different people placing more importance onone or the other."This chapter describes Yuva's Holi celebration of1991 and examines how participants in Vancouver understandHoli. It also examines what organizers consider to the com-ponents of such a cultural event, and what that revealsabout their assumptions and understandings. The followingchapter will provide an analysis of the event.89For other descriptions of Holi, see Arunachalam(1980:241-45) for an explanation of some of the mythologyand a description of contemporary practice in South India;Jackson (1976) for mythological references and an account ofa celebration in Britain; Kumar (1988:165-197) for a his-torical examination of Holi in Banaras and an analysis ofthe place of major Hindu and Muslim festivals in con-temporary life; and Marriott (1966) for an anthropologicalinterpretation of Holi as a ritual of role reversal ascelebrated in a North Indian village.In addition to my experiences with Yuva, my ownunderstandings of Holi come from readings, stories told meby my Indian friends, participation in the V.H.P. Holi showsand celebrations, and an experience of it in India in 1992."Merrey (1982:20,n19) explains variations in NewYear throughout India.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 185THE SEASONAL CYCLEA seasonal cycle of events and activities is adefining characteristic of the Indian community in Van-couver. The annual calendrical cycle, as it is understoodand practiced in Vancouver, is simultaneously a consequenceand determinant of experiences, opportunities andresponsibilities. Through choices acted upon and modes ofcelebration, the seasons are social constructions which inturn become the reality within which people live.Hindu religious events are based on a lunar calendar(Merrey 1982; also Basham 1967:492-3; Osttir 1980:212-14;Singer 1972:89-94). Countless numbers of pujas, specialgroup ceremonies, life-cycle celebrations, jayantis(birthdays of deities or famous people), satsangs (religiouscongregations), performances, and other special activitiestake place continually. The lunar calendar coexists withthe Julian calendar. The two calendars incorporate andamplify each other to make up the yearly experience ofHindus in Vancouver. For example, the annual GujaratiSociety Diwali dinner is regularly scheduled on RemembranceDay. Christmas is incorporated as a major annual celebra-tion by organizations such as the Bengali Society, GujaratiSociety, and India Club. New Year's day is a major socialevent at the V.H.P.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 186Holidays and activities have to be pragmaticallyincorporated into the dominant system of working hours andholidays (Joy 1984). Public celebrations of festivals areshifted in order to accommodate work and leisure schedules.Pujas are performed to coincide with regular Sunday prayermeetings. Shows are scheduled for Saturday nights and whenvenues are available. When pujas must be performed onspecific days, such as, for example, the Bengali celebrationof Durga Puja (five of its days are celebrated in Van-couver), individuals try to adapt their own lives. Thosewho can arrange it may take extra time off during thesedays. Others make the effort to come on week nights.Holi is one of the flexible celebrations. TheV.H.P. holds a puja on the actual day. Sometimes, after thepuja, a short cultural show takes place downstairs. Chil-dren perform and then everyone plays with colours. Someyears the V.H.P. produces a Holi Cultural Evening similar tothe Diwali Cultural Evening and in the same location, thoughnot as well attended. The Holi Cultural Evening show doesnot happen every year because such time and energies as mem-bers have for this kind of intensive volunteer activity goesinto Diwali.Adults who reminisce about celebrations in India orAfrica, express nostalgic memories about the fun andsocialization which makes up the festival. There,5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 187activities take place primarily between one's neighbors,friends, and family. People walk from house to house payingvisits, throwing and smearing colour on each other, andsharing special sweets and snacks.Here in Vancouver, families may invite good friendsfor dinner, and play a little colour at home. The only pub-lic Holi celebrations of which I am aware are those of theV.H.P., Yuva, and Utsav (an organization of visa students atU.B.C.).As it is not an equally important celebration forall Hindus, I have at times wished a Hindu acquaintance"Happy Holi" or "Holi Mubarak," only to be met with theirsurprise that this was the day. Without visible publicreminders it is easily forgotten. When Yuva members declarethat, "we have to have Holi," it reflects the fact that Holidoes not arrive automatically each year in Vancouver. Itdoes not exist with a life of its own, is not a public eventwith structures in place to bring it to the surface eachyear, nor does it automatically engage all community mem-bers. It must be produced. A decision must be made to par-ticipate or to make it active in ones's life. Choices mustbe made as to how it is to be constituted.INSIDER KNOWLEDGEIndians with whom I have spoken in Vancouver,including the second generation, know, at least, that Holi5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 188is a spring festival of rejuvenation whose historicalorigins lie in harvest celebrations, and above all, whosecharacteristic feature is the abandoned play with colouredpowders, gulal, or coloured water. For many youth this isthe extent of the knowledge, gained from snippets of myths,stories from family and friends, information from universitycourses, and for some, memories from their childhood inIndia or a chance visit to India in that season. Vijay, auniversity student, is one of these youth:So what we [Yuva] started, we have like a Holi thingwith the throwing of the colours . . . and there's astory behind that--now it was explained to me last yearbut I can't remember what it is . . . (TT-4)At one of the Yuva discussion groups, others, similarly, hadonly a vague understanding:Kumar: It's just, ah, they just play with colours. Likein India it mainly was done in villages, because theyused to have a bad winter, and finally the winter usedto go away and all the crops used to come up, soeverybody used to get together in the village and playwith colours--Manjit: And throw colours, right?Kumar: Yea, just mess yourself up. Like when we were inIndia, the idea was to create the colour that wouldnot come off, you used to put all this junk in it andyou used to go around and get everybody. If you sawsomebody that had some really nice clothes on, get'em!•^•^•Lakshmi: Yea, they burn this holy guy--Kumar: Yea, actually the original story was of this ladybeing burned--5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 189Gita: Holika.^(TT-Y1)Since major festivals in India, such as Holi,Diwali, and Id are part of the public culture, individualsof all religions are drawn in and often do take part. 91 InIndia, I chanced to be in Chandigarh during Holi in 1992,where it was celebrated exuberantly by Sikhs and Hindusalike; and in Delhi, where my Muslim friends went out toplay gulal with their Hindu neighbors.Here in Vancouver, Indian communities tend tocoalesce around certain celebrations by which they distin-guish themselves and which they celebrate within their owncommunities. An active member of both the Vishva HinduParishad and the Gujarati Society described the differencebetween the two organizations and commented that:India has so many different communities and groups.Gujaratis have Navratri--10 days of Devi Amba, Amba'sfestival. That is celebrated differently by Hindus, byGujaratis, and Bengalis. So Bengalis do it differentlyin the temple at that time, Durga Puja whereas we haveAmba Puja. They are one and the same but they have dif-ferent forms.Yuva's youth discussion groups discussed these Hindufestivals:Gita: Even for the festivals and stuff, we [familyfriends circle] usually get together and celebrate thefestivals . . .91Kumar (1988) describes how this is so for theHindu festivals of Diwali and Holi and the Muslim festivalsof Id and Baqr Id. She also explains the limits of mutualcelebrating where communal tensions have the potential toerupt.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 190EN: Like Holi?Kumar: Holi is more of a group, it's also a group thing.It's done together with a lot of other people . . . tocelebrate the first harvest, the end of winter. . . Doyou guys [addressing the Sikh participants] have any-thing like that? . . .Manjit: Same thing, but not everybody in the Punjabiculture celebrates it.Gita: Do you have it here [Manjit]?Manjit: I've heard of it. Actually I think somebodyinvited me--I can't remember who now--to one of thefestivals. Like our parents know what it is--Ranjit: Our parents don't go though. A lot of people weknow, their parents don't go either.Manjit: But we know what it is--Ranjit: I don't even know what Holi is, actually. I'venever even heard of it..^.^.Manjit: I think we were talking about this in our groupin the S.S.A. [Sikh Students Association, U.B.C.], andsomebody was saying . . . Sikhism has sort ofincorporated that day, and it's significant to Sikhpeople too. And I can't remember what happened, therewas some famous or historic event, and so theycelebrate Holi too. Like that's just the way thereligion has evolved. It does have significance.•^•^•Kumar: Yea, these are all, Diwali and Holi, they're allrun by our temple, so they're very Hindu, 'causethey're affiliated with the mandir. They're mostlyattended, I guess, by people that go to the mandir.(TT-Y1)In this conversation, these youth identify Holi as aHindu festival. It seems to be known to Sikh parents, while5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 191Sikh youth have no, or only a vague, knowledge of it. Thisis strengthened by the fact that it is the Hindu mandirwhich has the organizational structure and political will toproduce a public event of it.PLANNINGThere's food [chips and pop] left over from the dance.Should we have cookies?How about Indian food?A's Mom can make jalebis.B's Mom can make her dhokla.We'll ask the Moms to make something and we'll reimbursethem.What about an M.C.?"A girl or guy, it doesn't matter.""Maybe somebody should do it in Hindi?""Nobody understands it."Who should we get as a speaker?"Somebody old and wise."Mr. [X]?"He's too old, although he's very wise." [laughter]How about [Y]?"He'd just hand out business cards." [laughter again]We need someone who knows about Holi and can explain it.We should have a talent show.Let's have some entertainment while people are comingin.We can get my Mom's singing group to sing while peopleare coming in.I think they should be more organized."No, it should be a festive atmosphere, very informal.Just some folk singing on Holi."Should they sit on the stage or on the floor?'"Who would do some dances?""Should we have chairs or blankets?""People don't mind sitting on the floor.""Yea, we're Indians.""The men will want to sit on chairs.""We better have chairs. We can put a sheet on the floorin front of the stage so people can sit there if they5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 192want to sing along." (reconstructed and paraphrasedexcept where quotation marksindicate exact quotes)The enthusiasm of the initial planning is almostsubverted by the exigencies of everyday life. Twelve daysbefore the party is to take place, no one has booked thehall yet or bought the gulal, and the membership forms havenot been updated and printed out so that all members can becalled. School work is pressing, exams are coming up, andnot all of the new council members are taking their dutiesseriously. Although they want to integrate Indian cultureinto their lives, it takes an effort to do so, and otherdaily pressures can seem more urgent."Maybe we should cancel it." Kumar, the oldest mem-ber and acknowledged leader, has doubts. But the others areconvinced it can still happen and with their youthfulexuberance they pull it off.At the last minute everything gets done and thecelebration takes place as scheduled on Friday, March 15.An extra meeting is called to finalize last minute plans.It's a really nice hall. There are windows all alongone side and a door leading out to the lawn."We have to play colors outside.""We have to be out of the hall by eleven."Okay, so the singers will start at seven-thirty sharp.My Mom's really organized so they'll be on time. Thenthe speaker from nine to nine-fifteen, dances fromnine-fifteen to ten. From ten to ten-thirty we'll5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 193play with colors. Then from ten-thirty to elevenwe'll have food and we can clean ourselves up."Did you get some gulal?"Yea, I went to Main Street and they had lots. (para-phrased and reconstructed from notesexcept where indicated by quotations)THE EVENTMy husband and I are running late. It is pleasantfor us, accustomed as we are to reproaches from our ownrelatives for not being punctual, that one is rarely made tofeel too late for an Indian event. To the contrary, I had,on another occasion, been cautioned by a friend that it ispoor etiquette to show up for an Indian party on time as youwill not be expected till later, a practice commonlyreferred to as "Indian Standard Time." Nevertheless, out ofhabit, and because punctuality is also aimed for at moreformal Indian events, we rush.As we pull into the parking lot at nearly eighto'clock, so does the group of singers who were to begin theentertainment "at seven-thirty sharp." We all step out ofour vehicles into the brisk evening air, and leisurely walkto the building, chatting amiably. The absence of timepressure transports us into an Indian ethos even before thecelebration itself begins.A table has been set up in the hallway. Here two ofthe young women, dressed in brightly colored and fashionable5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 194Indian "suits" (popular term for salwar chemise) are sellingtickets. Inside the Activities Room, the young men cheer-fully greet us and other arrivals.^To my surprise, all ofthem are dressed in silk or embroidered kurta pajama, some-thing which I have not seen most of them wear before. As Icomplement Vijay he quips, "Well, it's a brown event, youknow." I wondered whether he felt self-consciousness inthis obvious affirmation of cultural identity.The young men have finished setting up the temporarystage, tables, chairs, and sound equipment. Sheets are laidout on the stage and on the floor--as is customary whereverguests are to sit on the floor--between the stage and thefront row of seats.We are among the first to arrive. I receive compli-ments on my sari and incredulous questions about whether Itied it myself. Two young women exclaim that they cannottie a sari themselves and feel uncomfortable wearing one,but if I can do it perhaps they will try. This strikes meas a strange reversal of cultural transfer.Guests continue to stroll in, chatting with friends.People will continue to arrive well after the program hasstarted, until there are about eighty people in the hall.About one third of the audience consists of young people,aged about fifteen to twenty-five. Most of the women aredressed in saris or salwar chemise. My husband and myself,5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 195along with two or three friends invited by one Yuva member,are the only visibly "white" participants.At 8:30, the program gets under way and everyonesettles into their seats. No one, not even the children,sits on the sheets on the floor. Two of the young men sharethe M.C. duties. They have settled on English. Only thesongs are in Hindi or Punjabi. Kumar, as often at Indianevents, is taking photographs.The show opens with the singing group performingHindi songs about the joys of Holi. The group consists ofeight women, all mothers, who have had the opportunity tolearn classical singing. Some younger women who normallytake part in the singing classes are now, instead, busypreparing for their dance items. One of the singersaccompanies on harmonium and one man accompanies on tabla ashe often does at Indian functions.The item is treated as a performance. No one fromthe audience joins in. This is the group's first publicperformance, and the audience is excited to see what theyhave accomplished and are appreciative with their applause.After the songs comes the requisite explanation ofthe event.Audience enthusiasm picks up notably with the danceperformances with more applause during the dances, cat call-ing, and people standing along the edges of the room to see5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 196better. Most of the dances are choreographed around thetheme of Holi. The high degree of polish of most of thepresentations belies the "family and friends" informality ofthe show. Over the past few years I have observed the qual-ity of Indian culture performances increase steadily. Iattribute this to an increase in opportunities to perform,an increased interest in Indian cultural activities and par-ticularly in the number of girls taking dance lessons, andan increase in competition between dancers.Nritya Manjaree, Vancouver's Kathak dance school,performs two dances. Two young women perform a filmy Holidance which they have choreographed together. A group ofPunjabi women, who are not Yuva members but have beeninvited to perform, present a Punjabi gidda which excitesthe audience.The highlight of the evening, judging by audienceresponse, is one small, pre-teen boy who performs an airband version of a "filmi" song whose Hindi title means'Kiss.' Words and mimed actions, which in an older individ-ual would be provocative, are considered cute, and result inlaughter, squeals, cheers, and applause. He later performsa second time along with his four older male cousins. Boysseldom dance in public performances. But the ease and gracewith which all of these boys dance in this pop-folk itemreflects the fact that boys also grow up watching Hindi5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 197movies and learning popular and folk dances which they per-form at private gatherings (I-6).After the performances, one of the council memberspresents a short prepared speech about Yuva to this captiveaudience. At the last council meeting it was agreed that itis important to take every opportunity to promote Yuva,explain its goals, and encourage more membership. A similarspeech at a previous dance had received little interest.The council had decided to "do it at Holi." They decidedthat a dance isn't the right place, since no one is in themood for listening to speeches. "The parents will listen."After the show, everyone moves to the back of theroom where a table is laid out with chips, dhokla, pakoras,jalebis, chocolate cake, pop and juice. Most audience mem-bers know each other and they seem to enjoy the chance tosocialize.About 10:30, Kumar announces the climax of the eve-ning, playing with gulal. The rain from earlier in the weekhas stopped and it is a clear evening, though cool. Some ofthe young people have disappeared to the washrooms to changeout of their good silk Indian clothes into old jeans and teeshirts. Out come the buckets of colored powders and thosewishing to play disappear outside. For the young, and someof the young at heart, this play retains some of the riotousabandon described by Marriott (1968), remembered by many of5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 198the audience, and still evident in India. As individualschase each other around the lawn, it takes only a matter ofminutes for the buckets to be emptied and the flyingcoloured powders to coat everyone outside. Most of theparents, however, prefer to watch out the windows. A fewcarefully dab each other with some reserve and hug eachother.After this the gathering quickly dissipates as it isnow well past eleven.COMPONENTSThe components of a Holi celebration are identifiedby Yuva members according to their perceptions of what oughtto be in this kind of event for the kind of audience theyare expecting. The requirements--as outlined in the plan-ning discussions, and subsequently followed in itsexecution--are an explanation (to be provided by a speaker);a talent or cultural show; and a festival ambience completewith food and play. The first two components typically com-prise an Indian cultural event in Vancouver. The analysisof this Yuva party will illuminate how these come to betypical components.A SPEAKERLast year we had a family friend, his Dad was in town.We had him speak and he gave us a little story and stuffabout what Holi is and how it originated . . . that was5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 199really good to have it come from someone a little olderthat knew a little more about it. It's just them shar-ing their experiences with us . . . (TT-4)Who should we get as a speaker?"Somebody old and wise."Mr. [X]?"He's too old, though he's very wise." [laughter]How about [Y]?"He'd just hand out business cards." [laughter again]We need someone who knows about Holi and can explain it.(paraphrased except where noted byquotation marks)The second generation have not personally experi-enced the festival in India, unless they are among those whowere born there and spent the first few years of their lifethere, or have travelled in India during the festival.These youth recognize the limitations of those who haveexperienced without fully understanding. They want "anexpert," someone who has some specialized knowledge fromstudy as well as experience.The first generation, who grew up experiencing thefestivals and other religious activities as part of dailylife in India or East Africa do not necessarily have theintellectual knowledge about them (Taylor 1976:84-85). 9292Kumar (1988:174) reports that her informants inBenaras "are universally ignorant of the sacred purposes ofthe festival."5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 200Living in an alien cultural environment, they now have aneed to explain forced upon them both from their own chil-dren and from outsiders. Burghart (1987a) describes how, inan overseas environment, lay people without any specialexperience, knowledge, or expertise find themselves in aposition of having to interpret and explain religious knowl-edge to others. As Mr. Bindi explains:Looking back, I guess I'm quite a bit Indian by heart. .. . And this was reaffirmed when I came and lived bymyself for four years. Because people will question youabout your religion when you get invited to a church.You're asked to speak about your religion, and then yougo to the library because your parents never taught youall this. You know, you are supposed to learn byosmosis all these cultural aspects. (TT-2)He later went on to explain:First I came I had very strong Indian identity . . . . Iwas very much Indian except that I didn't know how toexplain it. I had those ideas but I didn't have theconviction behind it. That conviction came laterthrough the questioning process. When people ask you,'Where are you from?' 'What's your language?' 'What'syour religion?' 'What's your belief?' All these thingsI found very hard to deal with because I didn't know howto respond. So there I was except that I didn't knowthat I was that and I had to rediscover that. I had toreinforce it. . . . I realized I didn't really know whatit is, Hindu, being like a Hindu. So I had to go andread some books. Now I can--very gradually--now I canclearly and firmly speak. So I became thankful thatthey became the training ground because eventually I hadto explain all this to my own children, children andfriends. So till you go face to face with people dif-ferent from you, different from society you are from,you don't develop a very sharp focus on these things.(ibid)Youth also feel themselves put into positions ofspokespersons. They have the added difficulty of lack of5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 201experience as well as knowledge. Questions can make themdoubt their own identity:Sunil: Also, like Canada is a melting pot [?] majorreligions, Catholic, Protestant. Nowhere is Buddhismor Hinduism ever mentioned in there, and so it'salmost like you're religious at home, but when you goout there, you get the pressure from like the com-munities. It's like the only religions that areimportant are Catholic and the other religions are,'Oh, that's nice, you're Hindu, that's nice, don't youhave a God of water?' And they'll start going, 'Howmany Gods are there in your religion?' They have oneGod, Jesus Christ, but we have God of water, God ofRain, you know--Jyoti: Yea, we're not able to explain enough about it.Like somebody, an Ismaili guy, once asked me about myreligion, and he was arguing with me, 'We do this inmy religion, what do you do in yours?' And I reallycouldn't--actually I was quite young at the time too--but I couldn't explain myself, and I didn't knowenough about it to hold a position. I mean I'm notsaying that I believe mine is the best or anything, _but I do believe in God and I believe in my religion.But then I felt really stupid, because I really don'tknow enough to say I believe because of this.Sunil: Specially if you start doubting it yourself, it'shard to--Jyoti: You doubt yourself because you don't know enoughabout it--Sunil: And then you're forced to assimilate into Westernculture even more. . . . I think it's important for usto know about our language, about our culture.There's nothing even wrong in knowing about ourreligion-- (TT-Y2)They forget that their parents, while having experience, donot always have explanations either. A need to explain, anda show of interest from outsiders, can implant or nourish aninterest in learning more.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 202Explanations and commentaries have routinely becomea component of many Indian activities here in Vancouver forthe benefit of both parents and children. For example,V.H.P. cultural shows at Holi and Diwali always include anintroductory explanation of the festival's origins, mytho-logy, and customs. Classical dance performances routinelyinclude explanations (Dakshinamurti 1991). During ritualcelebrations and pujas, both in the temple and in privatehomes, the pujari often explains procedures as he executesthem. Those who act as pujari here are individuals knowl-edgeable in Sanskrit and with a religious background, butnot necessarily trained as priests. They themselves oftenlearn by doing. I have witnessed the pujari himself inter-mittently taking some suggestions from the women devoteesduring the Bengali Durga Puja or the Gujarati Tulsi Vivaha.These instances illustrate Burghart's (1987a:231) observa-tions in Britain, that "Hindu laity . . . negotiated theform of the service themselves . . . authenticate their ownreligious observances."For this Holi event, Yuva has had the good fortuneto procure the help of Dr. Tirupathi, an erudite visitingIndian scholar to U.B.C. Speaking in English, he blendshistory, mythology and personal experience into an informa-tive, entertaining, and well applauded twenty minute pre-sentation.^He wove a description from myth, ideology,5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 203custom, and personal experience. Explanations provide alink between the here and now and the past (real orimagined) in India and provide an imaginary context in whichthe dances and the colour play become meaningful. As thecontent of the speech explains the celebration, the speechbecomes a new component of the celebration. These com-mentaries represent "a procedure . . . for the shaping andre-shaping of content through an active participation in aninterpretive process" (Narvdez and Laba [n. d.]:10). Thecommentators define and evoke the festival through theirtelling, and the pujaris and laity together shape rituals.A TALENT SHOWAnd I was interested in music, this was an interest Idiscovered here, classical music. And I started withghazals . . . I don't sing, I was confined to listening,but I was quite interested.^So in our house we used tohave parties. In the beginning we liked socializing . .. and once they come in, you want to do something morethan just sit and drink. So we started singing, likethat idea of talent show which was later on used withthe kids, it was with us. Somebody would say jokes,somebody would sing a song . . . (TT-2))Indian dinner parties usually have lots of people andall their kids, so at the end we have--usually theadults are upstairs and they'll get out the harmoniumsand the tablas and they'll enjoy listening to peoplesing . . . and they try to get the daughters involved .. . if we're [the guys] there we usually listen andstuff, we don't sing. Guys can't sing anyway so wedon't . . . or they usually do it to song, it's almostlike an Indian air band, an India song, and they'll havedancing and stuff . . . (TT-4)A second component of the Holi celebration is atalent show. "Talent shows" are regular components of5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 204Indian social and cultural gatherings (this will bedescribed further in the section, "A Party" in the followingchapter). As Mr. Bindi explains, these "mini talent shows"gave the kids "their cultural end of things" (TT-2).The more formal organizations like the V.H.P. hadsimilar beginnings. One of the motivations behind estab-lishing the V.H.P. as a cultural as well as religious organ-ization was to have a more formal support system for theirchildren's involvement. The wife of an active founding mem-ber explains that, "this is the reason he strongly believesin those cultural shows. That if they [teenagers, this gen-eration] don't go to the temple, they know something about .. . the culture . . . they know about their history" (TT-7)._This founding member has seen the major Diwali shows--whichnow draw a sell-out crowd of twelve hundred--grow out ofjust such home social gatherings at which the children wereencouraged to perform (NB-I-2-10).Dance is considered to be the most entertaining andaccessible form of entertainment for an audience mixedaccording to age, experience, and cultural background.Opportunities to perform and to see others perform fostersan interest in taking lessons which, in turn, creates moreinterest. The existence of four classical dance schools(teaching roughly one hundred forty students) in Vancouver5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 205means that many girls now have some formal training. 93 Thisis only a small part of dance activity (Nodwell 1993). For-mal training is not a prerequisite for engaging in what iscommonly called "filmi" dances (danced to Hindi film musicwith steps adapted from the film sequences), or in "semi-classical" dance, a broad category which combines elementsof classical, folk dance, mime, and natural movements. Airbands are an acceptable and highly entertaining way for boysto get involved.Many young girls grow up seeing their mothers andaunts dance and themselves start as soon as they can walk,learning the basic steps through imitation and participa-tion, and sometimes with some informal lessons. 94 Also,Hindi films, watched by young and old, are a ubiquitous fact93Natraj School of Dancing, established in 1974, isVancouver's oldest. It and Kavital Dance School, founded in1987, emphasize Bharat Natyam but incorporate other Indiandance traditions. Peali Dance Academy, established in theearly 1980's, teaches strictly Bharat Natyam. Nritya Man-jaree Dance School, established in 1983, is Vancouver's onlyclassical Kathak school.94It is still the case that not all Hindu girls arepermitted by their parents to take part in any kind of danc-ing or public performance. There is no data available aboutthese girls, how they deal with the restrictions placed onthem, and whether an increasing popularity in participationand watching performances makes any difference in the atti-tudes of those families. Nor is there any evidence abouthow participation in Indian dance and performance artsvaries according to religious, regional, or socio-economiccharacteristics.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 206of Indian life. Girls learn songs and dances from them,copying and choreographing their own moves (Nodwell 1993). 95We used to drive two hours a day to get to [a largercity] and back and stay there for four hours while Iwould have my lesson and my sister would have her les-son. My Mom would really go out of her way to do thatbecause the only other culture we got was from watchingIndian movies and copying dances or listening to songs.. . . We'll stop the movies and memorize exactly wherethey [songs and dances] are and rewind them--well mysisters and I used to . . . So we basically kept our-selves entertained. We learned the songs and did thedances. We'd been dancing since we were quite young.(TT-16)A lot of our Indian movies have steps--that's how webase our steps on, is the movies. I guess since we'vebeen brought up this way we just think of steps. I canimagine somebody else looking at it and thinking, 'Howwould you think of a step for a song like this?' Butit's very innate, I think. It just comes to you rightaway. . . . We never took lessons. Like in our com-munity, there's always that Diwali show every year. Sowe all just get together, pick a song and make updances. So because we were too young at that time to doit on our own we had somebody teaching us. She'd say,'Okay, let's do a dance this year.' It was alwaysassumed that every year we're going to do a dance. Thenfor years she taught us. . . . She didn't really teachanything classical or semi-classical, it was justdances, just Indian songs, and she'd put her own stepstogether or watch the steps from the video. (TT-9)Madhu and Gita are two young women who look forwardto the opportunity to perform at the Holi celebration. Like95Cunningham (1990:178-181) describes how watchingHindi movies and copying dances can stimulate young Indiangirls to take classical Indian dance lessons. Cunninghamalso cites an unpublished study (Kiren E. Ghei, 1988, "HindiPopular Cinema and Indian American Teenage Dance Experi-ence." Prepared for the 17th Annual Conference on SouthAsia, Madison, Wisconsin, November 4-6, 1988), whichexamines the enthusiasm for Hindi films and film dances bySouth Asian youth in Los Angeles.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 207many Indian girls and women, they love to dance. They haveboth had formal classical dance training. When I visitedMadhu, she was expecting Gita to come by so that they couldchoreograph and practice their dance for the Yuva Holiparty. They had already picked out one of their favouritesongs from a recent Hindi movie and had already spent somehours watching the steps in the movie, copying somesequences, and adding variations of their own. That daythey practiced the dance and then looked through Madhu'scupboard to decide which of their clothes would look goodtogether. They did not need to make special costumesbecause they both have a large wardrobe of Indian saris,suits, and lahangas. They ended up choosing salwar kamiz inbright pink, a colour appropriate for the spring festival ofHoli.While dance is ubiquitous, singing has notpreviously been included in Indian cultural shows (exceptfor the singing of the national anthems by groups of young-sters). Although informal groups have existed (TT-2), IndiaClub's popular "Mehfil-e-gazal" has been the one publicevent to feature classical singing. With this Holi show,singing is making a public debut as performance. This hasbeen fostered since 1989 by the annual visits of Pandit Jas-raj, one of India's foremost vocal artists, to give work-shops. Interest has been sustained by a dedicated body of5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 208students who work together throughout the year and by a com-mitted group leader:I've been trying to have workshops and education wherewe can have it [classical Indian music] more accessible.This last June I organized . . . teacher to come to Van-couver . . . and he gave month-long workshops. Allthese people were there, thirty-two students, sixteenhours of instruction. A seventy-two year old, [...],twelve year old [...]. It was a great success. And now. . . a group of the students, they come . . . everyother Thursday to practice what we learned in class.Because our teacher is coming back next June, and wewant to be able to continue and have some sort offollow-up. There were two white Canadians in there too.(September 1990)The third annual workshop was held in 1992. In the fall of1991 and 1992 the teacher's protégé also came from India toteach two-week workshops.In 1991 sixty students, mostly housewives, filledtwo levels of classes. As Mrs. Ghosh explains:In India it's difficult . . . they do it [go into arts]at very great cost. Here you can do it with ease. . . .It's different, mind you, I'm not really becoming a fulltime singer. . . . as a hobby there is more freedom todo it here. . . . [Housewives would not be able to pur-sue singing as a hobby in India] because, of course,there's all kinds of hangups about age and what one cando at a given age, and things like, 'You're too old todo this,' and 'You must be crazy if you think you canbecome a singer now.' . . . I mean this thing that we'vestarted is amazing for some people--that they have thisopportunity of sitting down with a maestro and learningfrom somebody like Panditji. It's just--some peoplecannot believe that we are actually fortunate enough tohave that in Canada, in Vancouver . . . Any housewifewould not venture to be close to--go as forward as that.. . . It's really amazing. . . . The community eventsare missing in India. We have much more here. Isn't itamazing how we've developed our own little [?] . . . Andwe do it for fun, and we become so good at it. And youknow the same thing with my singing. I started justrecently, and I feel that one day I will be able to per-5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 209form. And I would never have done it in India. Justbecause people would have put me down and said, 'Ohwell, you can't do this, you're too old for this,' thatkind of stuff. (TT-13)Ironically it is her own more "Western" sense ofindependence which allows her to put the time into organiz-ing and sustaining these classes that, in turn, become rep-resentative of Indian culture here in Vancouver:I'm quite westernized I think. My career's important,fitness is important, going for walks is important,studies. All these years I've been studying in the eve-ning, working all day, advancement in my career . . .And now this singing thing, it's amazing how much timeI'm finding for that. Twice a week I teach, that's fourhours. Every other week we have a group session, sayaverage it out to an hour and a half a week, so that'sfive and a half, and I sing at least eight to nine hourson my own. So that's fourteen hours a week I spend onsinging. So can say leisure or whatever, but I don'tthink people take their hobbies so seriously in our com-munity. . . . It's not a family thing. . . . But I wantto do it and I'll do it. The kids, my family, knowsthat Mom has planned that way and she will not beinconvenienced. I'm very, very un-Indian in that fash-ion. (TT-13)One of the criticisms of Canadian multiculturalismis that it fosters the display of culture as performancewithout serving the needs of daily life as lived. I have noargument with that criticism. But it should not prevent theexamination of song and dance as vital elements in culturalconstruction, particularly where it fosters just that. Inthe Indian context, talent shows are not just models of,they also models for culture. In one discussion group, Yuvamembers expressed how dancing and singing are part of their5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 210definitions of Indian culture. Kumar summed it up in sayingthat: "Dancing and everything that's live--singing, skits,story telling--people things are very big in India" (TT-Y1).Such "people things" are big not only in India, but produc-ing, participating in, and watching dancing, singing, andperforming seem also to be integral aspects of life for manyIndo-Canadians in Vancouver." These activities occur inhome parties, weddings, and other social dances; festivalsand celebrations; and cultural shows.These shows have both intended and unintended con-sequences. They are intended to involve children, provideentertainment, serve as a focus for an evening's socializ-ing, and provide opportunities for talented youth to per- -form.The shows serve as bridges. They form a bridgebetween youth who have varying degrees of independence andof cultural knowledge. Those who have more cultural knowl-edge share it with others, and those who have less, gainknowledge and exposure in an informal, fun way. They bridgegenerations by creating a meeting ground in which performerscan play back culture to their parent audience. They alsoform a bridge between different Indian groups in being aforum in which to "show" culture to each other in a way96Buchignani et al. (1985:193-94) suggest that thisis true across Canada.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 211which is entertaining, easily accessible, and politicallyneutral (in terms of widespread cultural and religiousissues).The preparation for performances brings theparticipants together in a common activity. This serves anunintended consequence of limiting the time they have fornon-Indian social relations and activities. Preparation forthe Diwali shows, for example, begins in the summer and con-tinues intensively, taking all participants' spare timeuntil October or November.These shows are meant, according to statements madeby Yuva council members, to "share cultures" or "show cul-tures" and so lessen prejudice and discrimination betweenIndians. This is revealed in statements such as, "I like toview everyone's culture" (TT-Y2; after having explained thatshe has visited different temples, gurdwaras and jamatkhanas); "We [Yuva] can show them part of our culture" (TT-4); and "dances seems to be a very good way of showing cul-ture" (TT-9).The prominence of talent shows as a medium forcultural expression serves an unintended consequence ofemphasizing the definition of culture as performance. Thedefinition of culture as performance was brought into sharpfocus by the response to a suggestion which I made at a Yuva5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 212council meeting. It had become clear that the youth werenot familiar with each others' festivals, including Holi:EN: [addressing the two Sikh girls] So do you two, yourfamily and friends, go to things like the V.H.P.Diwali or Holi show?Ranjit: I've gone to Diwali but not because my family,but a friend invited me . . .•^•^•Kumar [from Hindi speaking Hindu family]: Yea, these areall, Diwali and Holi, they're all run by our temple,so they're very Hindu. . . . They're mostly attended,I guess, by people that go to the mandir. ( TT-Y1)Lakshmi [Bengali]: In our culture . . . we don't haveKathak, Bhangra, or anything of that sort. All wehave Rabindra Sangeet.Kumar: What's that?Lakshmi: It's like, you know Rabindranath Tagore. Allthe songs and the dances are all--[she has difficultyfinding the right word] they're not like Kathak orBharat Natyam or anything of that type.Kumar: Folk dancing?Lakshmi: Folk dancing.EN: Bengalis do a lot more recitations and acting anddrama?Lakshmi: Yea.Kumar: They're considered one of the most literary ofthe different types of people in India. They do a lotof that.Lakshmi: Yea, a lot of recitation and they have the spe-cial way of reciting Rabindranath Tagore's poems.Recitation is the main part of every function. (TT-Y1)Kumar: [speaking to the Gujarati girls] You guys haveNavratri.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 213EN: Has Navratri become an all-Indian thing?"Kumar: Still mainly Gujarati--Jyoti [Gujarati]: Gujarati. On the weekends you'llsee--like I see Ismailis come.Kumar: [to the others] Do you guys know what Navratriis?Sunil [from a Hindi speaking Hindu family]: No, I don'tknow what it is--Jas [Sikh]: I never even heard of it--Jyoti: How come? You should come. You would love it--Sunil: I haven't been. I don't even know what it is--Kumar: Nine days--Anita [Gujarati]: Festival. Amba devi. We do garba infront of her and then dandia ras afterwards--Jyoti: It's like a celebration of good over evil--Kumar: It's a big thing. The biggest Gujarati thing.And it's nine days continuously and they dance . . .every night--[Kumar, Jyoti, and Anita all excitedly talk at onceabout it]Kumar: Like on the weekend there's a whole bunch--it'shuge, just huge, it's just a humungous--Jyoti: In September, October. I'll tell you about it.EN: What about your community [Jas, a Sikh]? Do youhave any big event?Jas: Not to my knowledge. Nothing like nine days.[Several people ask if they didn't just have some-thing, but can't quite get the name.]EN: Baisakhi? [several people ask about parade.]Jas: My parents don't really talk about it. They don'tgo to it--5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 214Sunil: It's supposed to be religious isn't it?Jas: Something to do . with Guru Nanak. I don't knowreally. I just talk to my friends about it sort of..Anita: And I think the Ismaili big thing is Id, wherethey do dandia ras as well. . . . They have a similarBarba thing as well. [?] And they have it at thecoliseum. It's a huge event. And I think they hadone at B.C. Place as well 'cause they have a verylarge community here--Jyoti: They do dandia, but it's more a Western style ofdandia--Anita: They do it different from ours. Like you cansort of tell--Jyoti: They dance to more English music--Anita: I think they have a disco garba or something likethat. (TT-Y2)Limits of interaction between communities is evidentin this discussion. Having realized the differences and thelimited knowledge they have about each others' culturalpractices, and considering Yuva's goals, I made a suggestionat one council meeting that Yuva might consider organizingsome sort of "field trips" for interested members to attendeach other's events. When I had first mentioned it pri-vately to one of the council members, he had immediatelyseen the point and encouraged me to bring it up at thismeeting.At the meeting there was some discussion, but noteveryone understood the implications. One comment was,"Well, we have our annual cultural talent show." The5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 215speaker did not recognize the significance of going to seean actual event in contrast to presenting a performance on astage. He reasoned that they were already planning acultural event in October where they would be doing theircultural and talent shows, and he implied that this was thesame thing:If you have a cultural day then you're bringing all thegroups to us--as long as we get to see the other cul-tures, that's the main point. (TT-9)He did not perceive a difference between going tothe groups or "bringing all the groups to us." It seemed tome that he was not making a distinction between demonstra-tion and activity, between life as lived and performance.His attitude is reminiscent of Singer's (1972:71) observa-tion that "my Indian friends--and perhaps all peoples--thought of their culture as encapsulated in these discreteperformances, which they could exhibit to visitors and tothemselves." (cf. Manning 1983; Turner and Bruner 1986). Inthis case, the performance comes to stand for culture.AMBIENCE I think they [the singers] should be more organized.No, it should be a festive atmosphere, very informal.A third component of Yuva's Holi celebration is acertain kind of ambience. Council members express theirplans of ambience for Holi in terms of "festive atmosphere,""organized," "very informal," "light," and "fun."5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 216These simple words suggest connotations about somefundamental understandings of the everyday life of thespeakers. The ways in which the descriptions are used sug-gest that they apply to different spheres of activity."Fun" concerns the event as a whole. It has particularrelevance for the young people and relates to how they wouldlike to experience the event. "Informal" concerns thestructuring of participation, which is a means to other endsand also reflects a mode of interaction. "Light" refers tothe appropriateness of certain types of performance. TheHoli party was not the place for serious classical perform-ances. All the items are folk, popular, or semi-classical.One of the plans to create a festive atmosphere wasto have a group on stage singing Holi songs as guestsarrived and then to have guests participate in the singing.Seating arrangements for both singers and audience cameunder discussion:. . . Just some folk singing on Holi.Should they sit on the stage or on the floor? . • •Should we have chairs or blankets?People don't mind sitting on the floor.Yea, we're Indians.The men will want to sit on chairs.We better have chairs.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 217We can put a sheet on the floor in front of the stage sopeople can sit there if they want to sing along.It is customary in Indian classical musical perform-ances for musicians to be seated on the floor on a rug orsheet laid out for the purpose. This practice continues tobe followed here in Vancouver. During India Music Societyconcerts artists sit on the stage on a dais covered with arug. This area then becomes the sanctified performing area,and must not be entered with shoes. 97 At home social andmusic gatherings sheets are laid down on top of existingrugs. The singers are being trained in Indian classicalmusic tradition and sitting on the floor is part of thattradition.The options which the organizers considered for thesingers was whether they ought to be seated on the stage oron the floor in front of the stage. Sitting on the floorwould bring them into closer contact with the audience. Theorganizers hoped that this would invite audience participa-tion and allow for the spontaneity and informality of a fes-tive occasion.The stage, on the other hand, designates a sepa-ration between audience and performers, and signifies a per-97Similarly for dance performances, the stage issanctified at the beginning of a dance performance, as is apractice room before dance lesson. These must not then bewalked on with shoes until the performance, lesson, or prac-tice is over.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 218formance. The sense of showing culture prevailed. Thedecision was made that it was more important for the singersto be seen, so they were positioned on the stage.For the audience, organizers considered the optionsof sitting on the floor or on chairs. Many Indian homesmaintain a room with a thick carpet and little furniture.This is used for music activities, religious gatherings, orlarge parties where guests sit on the floor (this makes itpossible to accommodate large gatherings). Even in Van-couver, sitting on the floor is common for guests of allages for religious occasions--either in the temple or atprivate satsangs, kathas, and lectures--and for large familygatherings, parties, or private music performances.The second generation, in trying to create acultural event, consider this accepted Indian practice fortheir public event. But the use of chairs prevails. Again,unintended consequences of this are that it situates theaudience clearly as audience, and clearly marks the perform-ance segment of the evening from the rest.The spontaneity did not quite come off. The singersthemselves did not arrive till half an hour after the desig-nated starting time of the event. And since the singinggroup had not performed before, they were a little nervousabout starting spontaneously. The audience did not join thesinging, and all sat in chairs. Mrs. Ghosh later accounted5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 219for audience reluctance to join in by the fact that thereare so many different "languages, customs, and folklore,"and so not everyone knows the songs. The event was struc-tured to be a performance and the audience, in theiractions, was implicated in structuring it as performance. 98Cultural shows like this provide opportunities forstudents to demonstrate their skills. But the specificrequirements for these kinds of shows influence teachers intheir selection of material.For example, "light" refers to a type of entertain-ment, dance and singing, which is appropriate for a mixedfamily audience--that is, mixed according to age, interest,and knowledgeability about art forms. A commonly expressedopinion is that "people get bored with classical." One ofthe guests is the director and teacher of one of Vancouver'sBharat Natyam dance schools who aims to maintain strictclassical standards. Because of her standards, her studentsdo not perform at shows which require "light" entertainment.However, after seeing the high quality of performances atYuva's Holi celebration, and recognizing the benefits forgirls taking part, she has begun to incorporate some "semi-98Bruce Kapferer (1983, 1986) analyses how thestructuring of ritual in Sri Lanka can limit audience inter-action at one time and engage audience involvement atanother.5:HOLI DESCRIPTION 220classical" 99 dances into her teaching.This chapter has examined the components--a speaker,a talent show, and a festival ambience--which Yuvaorganizers decide must make up their Holi celebration. Thecomponents are similar to those of other Indian public per-formances. They reflect the youths' sense of ignoranceabout their culture and a desire to learn more, an effort toprovide opportunities to exhibit cultural skills and to per-form, a belief that performances exhibit culture andcultural diversity, and a need to appeal to a wide range ofparticipants as performers and audience members. It wasseen that culture is defined as performance and is rein-forced as such by audience reaction. The next chapterexamines how Yuva organizers define their event and whattheir definitions imply.99 This teacher defines "semi-classical" as main-taining classical movements and technique which are adaptedto popular or folk music. Costuming may be more casual,subject matter less traditional, and choreography freer.221Chapter 6ANALYSIS OF YUVA'S BOLT CELEBRATION:CONSTRUCTING "INDIAN CULTURE":This chapter examines Yuva's Holi celebrationaccording to how the organizers define it. Their defini-tions reveal what they know about how such an event ought tobe conducted and what is required and appropriate for eachdefinition of it. The discussion will digress from theevent itself in order to elaborate on broader issues relat-ing to the Indian culture and community which are the con-text in which this event takes place. It will be seen thatmuch can be glimpsed through these categories about experi-ences of being Indian in Vancouver.DEFINITIONS OF THE EVENTAt various times, Yuva's Holi celebration is desig-nated by its organizers to be "Holi ," "a Yuva event," "acultural event," "a family event," and "a party." First Idiscuss a "Yuva event" since Yuva is the immediate contextwithin which this takes place. Secondly, the council has a6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 222mandate to organize some annual "cultural events." Withinthese two parameters Holi is selected as a suitable occa-sion. Another mandate is to ensure that some of the annualevents are family events, a third definition. And fourth,the format chosen in which to celebrate Holi is a party,but, as I will show, a type of party with a particular his-tory.A YUVA EVENTFour criteria define a Yuva event. One is Yuva'smission to "expand and diversify" in order to create broadersocial networks. Another is Yuva members' de-emphasizing ofreligion. Third is their desire to learn more about theirown and other Indian cultures. And fourth is an aim to be -organized and efficient in contrast to what they conceptual-ize as their parents' overly lax attitudes towardsefficiency.EXPANSION AND DIVERSIFICATIONIt [last year's Holi celebration] was supposed to be aYuva event, but it was at my house, and somehow not allthe members got called. It was mostly our familyfriends circle. But it sure was a lot of fun. (TT-15)Chapter Four described how India Club initiated Yuvaand how the core group actually grew out of The FamilyFriends Circle. In the above quotation, a Yuva event isexplicitly contrasted to The Family Friends Circle. The6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 223friends circle is an informal and amorphous social groupwhose members come together on the basis of common language,background, and values. Yuva is a more formal voluntaryassociation which actively pursues expansion and diver-sification in order to help eliminate social boundariesbetween Indian communities. In other words, members aim tobreak out of the confines of the very group from which theyoriginated.The way in which Yuva's first Holi celebration(1990) as a family friends event developed into their second(1991) as a Yuva event reflects these broader concerns.Here I elaborate on their perceptions about internal divi-sions and prejudices. In the conclusion I will argue thatin trying to expand and diversify the youth themselves per-petuate certain boundaries.First, I will briefly compare the two Holi parties.According to photographs of the 1990 party and descriptionsof it by participants, that party seems to have capturedsome of the spirit of Holi as I have experienced it inIndia. Celebrated among family and friends at Kumar's home,it was informal and playful. Participants shared a pot-luckmeal and all played with colors outside until faces and clo-thing, as well as the whole patio and lawn were covered withthe colored powders.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 224The 1990 party included the requisite "talent show,"a regular feature of Indian family parties (see "A TalentShow" in previous chapter, and "A Party," to follow in thischapter). That show included a presentation by a selectedadult about the history and meaning of Holi. Then the youngpeople performed skits making affectionate fun of the dif-ferent "aunties," one who always starts yawning by nine,another who habitually urges guests to eat more, and anotherwho insistently loads her guests with food to take home.When Yuva members declare that they "have to haveHoli," they refer to the memory of last year's first Yuvacelebration of it, which was such a good time for all thoseinvolved and has become a text for the reconstruction ofHoli. Yuva members are already considering the celebrationof Holi to be one of Yuva's annual "cultural events."In practical terms, the difference between the twoevents illustrates a move from the spontaneous, word-of-mouth, informal modes of interaction which seem to bepreferred by first generation Indians, to more formallyorganized proceedings. Yuva's second Holi celebration movesbeyond the cliquishness of close friends who have similarbackgrounds. The 1991 party changed location to a communityhall, in a more business-like manner the council made theeffort to phone all members, the show was longer and more6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 225formally organized than the previous year's, and the talentshow was planned to have a broader appeal.Yuva's members share similar aspirations. ChapterFour described how internal discrimination surfaced in theYuva Youth Forum and in Yuva discussion groups as an issuesignificant to them. Yuva strives to do something about thesocial boundaries, stereotypical attitudes and prejudicesthey see between Indian groups:Narendra (Gujarati): What we're trying to do with Yuvais to not have these frictions. We do not want this.We know that it's going to be pretty rough in thebeginning because all these new groups are going tomeet together and they're going to have differentvalues. . . . I think in the past we have been tothese different events of different cultures and wesee that a lot of people are missing out on what othercultures have to offer.Jyoti (Gujarati): We realize that after meeting [Kumar)and all his friends and his family . . . that's thereason why we started [Yuva]. . . . It was just niceto meet others--we had been so restricted to just ourown Indian people. (TT-9)Kumar (Hindi speaking Hindu), describes a similar goal:I think the main reason we do want to form one big, notone big group, but just have everybody interact witheach other, is to eliminate prejudice. Not only amongstourselves, but amongst everybody. And we have to startwith ourselves if we want to go on to a bigger scale. Ithink that's the main reason. (TT-Y1)Two related themes are expressed here. One is thefact of social interaction limited to one's own community.The other is prejudice and tension between communities.Jyoti and Narendra (above) describe Yuva as a reactionagainst both problems. Vijay details a similar perception:6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 226. . . there are specific and unique regional dif-ferences, but when you get an all-Indian group, regard-less of what region or part of India they're from, it isa deterrent for ignorance, you see. . . . If you getSikhs and you get Hindus, Hindus have certain misconcep-tion about Sikhs, and Sikhs of Hindus. And you put themtogether--sure they can have their own groups by them-selves, to preserve their own Sikhism and Hinduism andwhatever, that's fine--but when you put them togetherthen the Hindus see what the Sikhs are like and theSikhs see what the Hindus are like and that'll diminishany misconceptions that each sect may have of eachother. And that's important because in India there's alot of problems with that . . . So I think getting thema broad base in that sense, without discrimination--'cause there's certainly discrimination between sects,between the Sikh sect and the Hindu sect in India andeven here--I think by having an all-India thing withoutdiscrimination, then it's our little part of trying todiminish that thing so we don't have that in the future.Because our parents--I mean if you ask any Hindu parentof who you'd like their child to marry, that person bet-ter be Hindu kind-of-thing. Not better be, but they'dprefer Hindu, whereas, you'd think--Sikhs the samething, they'd rather marry another Sikh than marry aHindu. And that's because what they think that thesepeople are like. And that's a problem and it's evenhere. (TT-4))Vijay's world view draws on his knowledge of Indian life andpolitics.The distinctions which respondents bring up as mostcommon or significant are between Gujaratis and (other)Hindus; between Hindus and Sikhs; and between Hindus andSikhs on the one hand and Ismailis on the other (see also"Defining Community" in Chapter Three).The Gujarati youth talk about how they have beenbrought up in very closed social groups. Jyoti and Narendradiscuss what they consider to be their parents' narrow range6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 227of friends and their community's tendency to create bound-aries:Jyoti: . . . to associate with somebody outside[Gujaratis] was sort of uncomfortable. Like it waslike, 'Oh, I didn't want to get to know that personbecause they're not really with us all the time.' . .. I find that Gujaratis are very closed-minded. . . .--this might be a generalization but this is how Ilook at everything--I find that Gujaratis, we're veryrestricted to other people. We don't want people to--not that we'd mind them--like we don't mind you comingto our Navratri thing or anything like that, talkingto us or anything like that--but you'll find that mostof the families keep within themselves, they're muchmore orthodox. Our family and [Kumar's Hindispeaking] family are total opposites--Narendra: They're modern--Jyoti: In everything . . . like Gujaratis you'd find areopposite from the Hindis [sic] that [Kumar] and themhang around with--Narendra: Hindis seem to be more modernized, open toother cultures, but we're--Jyoti: No, we're Hindus as well, though. We have thesame religion, but because his upbringing--and not hisfamily, but the group that they've hung around with--that's what I mean by we're closed. We're not readilyaccepting the new ideas and moving forward."The group that they've hung around with" to which Jyotirefers is The Family Friends Circle who, as described inChapter Three, define themselves as more modern and openminded than a) other Hindus, and b) Sikhs. Another Gujaratirespondent explained how she and her friends dislikeGujarati caste social gatherings where they always see thesame people. Narendra and Jyoti are both active members ofYuva and share in its visions. They explain their previous6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 228isolation from other Yuva members before the Gujarati andthe other Hindu young people first met at the wedding of amutual friend:Narendra: We just want to make it more flexible insteadof--Jyoti: Instead of just having Gujaratis and just Hindus,'cause that's how it used to be. . . . for us to seesomebody who is non-Gujarati is a big deal. He's [aHindi speaking Hindu Yuva member] been living here allhis life and we never met him. And he's been livingfive, ten minutes away from me. And he's Indian, he'sthe same religion--like we're both Hindus--but I'mGujarati, and he's, he's a Marwari Hindu. And thatlittle bit of a difference makes--I would never havemet him in all my life because we were so restricted,like Gujaratis Gujaratis. Even my attitude used to belike that. Like 'Oh God, they shouldn't come to ourevents, we're Gujaratis.' (TT-9)Hindu respondents' definitions of Sikhsl" are basedlargely on class differences (discussed in "Definitions of -Selves and Others" in Chapter Three). Some Hindu Yuva mem-bers describe other stereotypical attitudes about Sikhswhich they attribute to their parents. One Hindu youth froma Hindi speaking family comments on his parents' attitudes:I know my Mom, personally she has prejudices againstPunjabi people. She gets this attitude like, 'Oh, don'tsay anything wrong about them. [laughter] Go alongwith them whether you agree with them or not becausethere are a lot more of them in Vancouver than there areHindus.' I guess the media blows up this. (TT-Y2)1001 do not have data to determine the definitionswhich Sikhs hold of Hindus in Vancouver. Sikh Yuva memberstook part in the discussion groups. They refrained fromcommenting on these particular definitions, but expressedequally strong feelings about prejudices and discriminationbetween Indian communities.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 229One participant in Yuva's youth forum argues that, "They[parents] don't see it as racism because they make some kindof logic out of it" (0-6).Another set of stereotypes is held by Hindus ofIsmailis:Jyoti (Gujarati): Nobody said to me, my Mom's never saidto me, 'You can't associate with Punjabis' or--actually they have with Ismailis, because there seemsto be this Muslim / Hindu thing [a bit of laughter]with my parents anyways. They feel that--like they'llmake comments here and there . . .Anita (Gujarati): . . . But I still keep an open mindabout that. Like I have a lot of Ismaili friends aswell, but they're not the ones that I immediately hangaround with.•^•^•Sunil (Hindi speaking Hindu): You can get the pressurefrom the East Indian community saying that you onlytrust your own kind. That's where that otherprejudice develops, people will start saying, 'Okay,if you can only trust your own kind, so where do youbelong?' If you're in the Punjabi community they'regonna say, 'Watch out for the Ismailis,' and that'show conflict develops. Like very rarely you'll findIsmaili people at a Punjabi dance. Like if you dopeople wonder what are they doing here. 101 (TT-Y2)The other Yuva discussion group talked about thefact that the parents' prejudices are often perpetuated bythe youth:Ranjit (Sikh): Even at U.B.C. you notice differenttables of students at lunch time. There's an Ismailitable. But I think that the Punjabi and the Hindugroups are fairly--lnYet the Punjabi friends of Sunil and his sisterwere invited to her wedding. He argues that their own atti-tudes are forcing their parents to change.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 230Kumar (Hindi speaking Hindu): They're fairly open.Ranjit: Yea, but especially with the Ismaili group, theysit at a different table. Sometimes there's even ten-sions between them, like people say things and stuff,so it becomes real the way they're thinking. Not allIsmailis. I know I have some Ismaili friends andthey're really friendly and everything. But still,you always have lunch with--you know, it's kind ofweird--Ramesh (Gujarati): You're talking about in Sedgewick[U.B.C.'s undergraduate library], right? Yea, thefirst time I saw this, whoa, I just couldn'tunderstand that. Like everyone was separated and theyall came to the same place, and they left, then they'dcome back to the same place. I just couldn't see why.Kumar: Yea, I see your point of view. I'm not used tothat, either, because I've never really had any Indianpeople that I hang out with. I've just been withwhoever was around..^.^.Manjit (Sikh): . . . even I've noticed that with myother Punjabi friends . . . like we sit aroundSedgewick talking about what side of the river ourparents are from. [lots of laughter] . . . like we'reall, we all say we're against the caste system and . .. then we're sitting there and talking and say, 'Well,what caste are you?' It's kind of silly but it makesyou think.Kumar: Sort of a different way of the same thing. Sortof like, uh, we're talking about the same thing butwe're doing it in a different way. (TT-Y1)Similarly at the Yuva Youth Forum, discussions encouragedself reflexivity which resulted in participants becomingaware that they themselves unconsciously hold stereotypicaland prejudicial views and often behave accordingly.At the end of one Yuva meeting I showed a draft ofmy paper about Yuva, which precipitated a discussion (I-3).6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 231Vijay and some of the others picked up on a section whichcontained some quotations from the discussion group aboutthese distinctions. Those in attendance agreed that theattitudes represented are typical of what they have experi-enced. They explained that there is "major" stereotyping,ignorance, misunderstanding, and antagonism between Punjabisand Ismailis. One of the discussion participants speculatedthat a strong class distinction is the problem. ChapterThree described how Hindu adults often define Sikhs asculturally and even religiously similar, but how their"internal observers' model" of Sikhs defines the significantdifference as one of class. It is to this that theyattribute the limited interaction between Hindus and Sikhs.Members attribute Yuva with bringing about somesocial interaction between young people from different com-munities who had not interacted previously:Jyoti: Yuva was the thing that really brought everybodysort of--like we started coming to the events and wemet a lot of his side of the--Anita: I find Yuva to be very interesting becausethere's like no really discrimination against whatkind of religion you are. Like you can find Ismailipeople, you can find Punjabi people, Hindu people,Hindu Pun people [some discussion about this term] . .. Hindu Punjabi people, everyone--Jyoti: Gujaratis--Anita: At these dances, whatever, dances or--Jyoti: Yea, like the last dance was great because Ididn't know anybody. It was nice, it was like you getto meet new people--6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 232Anita: Quite a change--Jyoti: Some of them I knew, some of them I didn't. Itwas nice just to meet new people. It didn't really .matter if they were Sikh or-- (TT-Y2)These differences become minimized in the context ofa conceptualization of an Indian community sharing a commonculture, as expressed by Anil, one of the Gujarati youths:It [whom I marry] doesn't matter to me because I've beenexposed to--I know Sikhs, and I know a whole bunch ofHindus, and I know Gujaratis--it doesn't really matterto me. Whoever it is, it is kind-of-thing. I do preferan Indian, though, because of the whole thing ofpreserving culture, and I'm going to try to make it passit on as much as I can. So that way it'll probably bean Indian. I couldn't care whether it's Sikh or--because the culture's there regardless. (TT-4)"The culture" is expressed here at the Holi celebra-tion by the semi-classical and classical songs and dances,the popular songs and dances of current Hindi films, thecelebration of a Hindu festival, and being together withother Indians.Expansion and diversity has been incorporated intothe Holi celebration in three ways. Youth from differentbackgrounds cooperated in the planning and organization ofthis Hindu event. Secondly, organizers reached out tocreate wider networks of Indo-Canadian youth and made a con-centrated effort to include them in this Yuva event by per-sonally calling the entire membership list. Third, theymade the effort to incorporate some cultural diversity by6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 233including a Punjabi women's dance in the cultural talentshow.RELIGIONA second characteristic of a Yuva event is an aver-sion to orthodox religious practices and beliefs.In 1991, two public Holi celebrations were producedin Vancouver: one by Yuva and the other by the V.H.P. Acomparison of them serves to emphasize one of Yuva'spriorities. Yuva members sharply distinguish culture andreligion. Kumar, a founding member, explains this:I think the reason some people do become interestedafter seeing our events is because . . . we don't haveanything to do with religion. We don't have anything todo with religion at all. Like we promote culturalism ina few ways, like we promote our culture a bit, but wenever promote religion. I think some people sometimesget afraid of--some people just don't like the religiousside, and when they're younger--like when they get olderthey get more into all that--but not when they're young,like their early teens and so on . . . (TT-14)His reference group here is young people, against whom hecontrasts his definition of older people as being more reli-gious. He also distinguishes culture from religion. A fur-ther distinction made in conversations is that between Yuvaand other youth groups (according to Yuva's definitions ofthem). Yuva members contrast themselves in particular withIsmaili and Sikh groups which are conceptualized by Yuva'sHindu members to be large, very active, and strongly reli-giously oriented. There are other groups without religious6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 234affiliation, such as, for example, those associated withMOSAIC and OASIS, but Yuva members do not compare themselveswith these, which they consider to be more issue oriented.Religion is seen as a divisive force in contrast toculture which is seen as shared. In a conversation aboutwhat Indo-Canadians have in common, this happened to bestated most clearly in a discussion group by a female Sikhparticipant:We have lots in common, like with Hindu people andFijian people or whatever. Even like when we speak,like our parents watch the same movies on T.V., and wecan understand Hindi. It's all related, you can see it.Even the clothing and stuff, the saris, the food, every-thing is kind of shared. It's just, I think, the reli-gion that sort of pulls everybody apart. (TT-Y1))Yuva members rationalize Holi as being a non-religious celebration. Vijay explains:Like Holi in a way is almost non-religious. It doeshave a big religious part, but a lot of it is strictlyvillage celebrations. (TT-4)An aversion to religion can explain the complete omission(except for Mr. Tirupathi's presentation) from Yuva's Holicelebration of any reference to the moral, ideological orsocial meanings of Holi, meanings which are embedded inHindu mythology and beliefs. These are absent in any oftheir descriptions of Holi, and in the planning for theevent. Its Hindu origins are ignored in the emphasis on itas a pan-Indian celebration.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 235By way of contrast, the V.H.P. produces a Holinewsletter and souvenir books containing articles explainingHoli and stressing its moral aspects. The following appearsin the Holi Souvenir 1991 (Goel 1991:13):Holi spells enormous joy to the people, and it is one ofthose occasions when all reservations are thrown away.People come together to sing and dance and spray eachother with colour, forgetting all the differences ofsex, caste, creed, religions, sect and status. Equalityamongst all the human beings is the basic theme of thisgreat festival. . . . The basic theme of Holi is thecelebration of goodness . . . Holi also denotes the har-vest time. . . . It is a day of the year reserved forreaffirming our faith in God and in the human dignityand equality amongst all men and women.For the V.H.P., Holi is an occasion to reiteratebroad religious ideals. Another V.H.P. article (Gandhi1992) states this explicitly: "It is a day of the yearreserved for reaffirming the basic elements of HinduReligion--love, respect, equality, brotherhood for everyoneand faith in God.For the youth, however, the 'joy,' which in reli-gious ideology arises from the affirmation of goodness andequality, is translated into 'fun,' a characteristic whichHo1i also exhibits in India (Arunachalam 1980). Indianactivities in what the youth see as parents' terms--ritual,religion, and classical arts--are often those things inwhich many youth are not interested. As Vijay explainsabove, culture is knowledge and heritage, religion is beliefand ritual practice. The youth reject religion in these6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 236terms, preferring to suspend belief in favour of rationalchoice.Vijay describes what the difference between religionand culture means to him:The Hindu religion I look at not as a religion likeChristianity or anything. I look at it as culture. Isee Hinduism, Hindu religion, more as culture of wherewe came from because there's the stories that tell andexplain things. . . . And so the culture and the reli-gion and ceremonies that occur because of this are allintertwined. So I see it more of as a cultural thingrather than as a religious thing. . . . I know thatLaxmi may be the Goddess of Wealth and stuff, but Idon't pray to them because of that. I see them and Iunderstand the stories behind them and how they pertainto me, but I don't pray to them. But I'm interested inthem and study them in the sense that they are a part ofme regardless because of my culture. There's a fineline there, I know. But it's not something I practicebut something I'd like to learn about. (TT-4)In his definition religion is belief, ritual, and somethingto be practiced; culture is knowledge, resides in storiesand ceremonies, and is something to be learned about. Heexplains the form religion takes in his home:There are Indians that are highly religious. They go tothe temple and they believe in fate. My Mom does, too,but my Dad is more of, you don't have to go to thetemple as long as you live a straight life, a good lifeand you work hard and you're honest. . . . Sure, we havea little temple we have in the corner of our house . . .They light what they call diva . . . one just after youtake a shower in the morning and then one before dinnerat night, and that's always done, and it's more of adiscipline. (TT-4)His reference group here is also youth. It is his defini-tion that ritual practices are "more of a discipline" thanrelated to belief. He explained how he recently refused to6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 237continue to do daily pujas at home, which his mother hadalways insisted upon, because that practice has no meaningfor him.I have noted differences in religiosity specificallyremarked on in relation to Yuva: between youth and adults,and between Yuva and other youth groups. Another differencein religiosity often alluded to is that between men andwomen. The difference which Vijay noted above between thereligiosity of his mother and father is a common one and is,to some extent, perpetuated in the second generation. Thiswill be elaborated on in a following section of this chap-ter, "Constructions of Gender."For Yuva members, associating with other Indians isa means of taking part in Indian culture. A statement byNarendra indicates in his own life a move away from cultureas religion to culture as social networks when he says:When I was small I used to always go to the temple andattend these religious events. But now I may attendthese religious events less, but as long as I attendYuva . . . I'm always kept up. (TT-9)Yuva members integrate Indian culture into their lives bytaking their turn in organizing functions like Holi and bystrengthening connections between each other."Hinduism can be considered as something more than agiven body of doctrine and practice . . . it is also a prod-uct of its spokesmen" (Burghart 1987a:225). The second gen-6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 238eration are beginning to be spokespersons. Their inter-pretations will increasingly define Indian culture in Van-couver and what it means to be Hindu. In their productionof Holi, religious ideology is left out and is replaced byfun and performance. The Indian culture which theyintegrate, they themselves construct as a-religious. Theywish to avoid what they see as divisive beliefs in the caseof Hindus and Sikhs in India, and between Hindus and Mus-lims. As Vijay described, their definitions of themselvesas Hindus and their religiosity lies in belief in God,heritage, and wanting to learn more about it, and not neces-sarily in terms of ritual practice or absolute acceptance ofdoctrine.LEARNING ABOUT CULTUREI wanted to be involved [in Yuva] because I didn't knowmuch about Indian culture at first, because I was justhanging around with my friends at school. They weren'treally Indian friends. So I wanted to learn more aboutthe Indian culture and the background, I wanted to getinvolved with more people, more Indo-Canadians, andprimarily also I want to learn to organize and getinvolved . . . basically work with these people and setup these Indian events like Holi. . . . We've got toemphasize the fact that we are trying to unite theseIndo-Canadians and it's not just a place to party . . .We're trying to benefit--it's special, we're giving theopportunity to learn more about other cultures. (TT-9))A third criterion of at least some Yuva events isproviding opportunities to learn about Indian culture.Parents fear that youth are not interested in their culture6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 239when they refuse to follow certain practices or values, orto accompany parents to Indian cultural or social events.Parents try to socialize their children into their cultureof heritage by taking them to Indian activities, speaking tothem in their Indic language, encouraging their participa-tion in Indian activities, and sometimes providing--orinsisting on--formal classes in language, religion, or arts.Parents' fears become intensified during their children'searly to mid-teen years when, as described in Chapter Four,youth commonly show little interest in, or outrightlyreject, any involvement with Indian culture.Learning about their culture, however, gets to beimportant at a certain age, and one of Yuva's goals is tocreate a structure which will facilitate learning and shar-ing. But they want to learn in their own way, on their ownterms. This Holi celebration allows the youth to show cul-ture to others and to express what they understand aboutIndian culture. At the same time, it engages them in anactivity that allows them to experience being Indian.As well as becoming informed about their own andeach others' cultures, Vijay (above) suggests another reasonfor sharing cultural knowledge. This group has grown uphaving to struggle with developing a sense of pride in theiridentity. The Yuva core group, those who have come throughthis struggle successfully in terms of positive self image6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 240and self confidence, see the difficulties of others. Theywish to share their experiences and provide support (partic-ularly to their younger siblings).A lot of the group I'm with . . . I know they probablythink very similar to that [that the Indian part ofone's identity is important]. But there are Indo-Canadians out there that some don't want to admit it.They want nothing to do with India and that's partlybecause they haven't been exposed to it as much as Ihave and my friends. . . . The value is almost a preser-vation of your culture, a wide base, I mean what we wantto do in Yuva is to reach those Indo-Canadians that allhave had a taste of both worlds and those that haven't.. . . and those that haven't experienced what India'slike or been to India they can talk to people that have.And this way maybe they get an interest in going orwhatever. I think it's important in that way. (Vijay,TT-4)It [Yuva] just gets--lets people know--I guess we cantalk to each other about things that we feel comfortablewith, we can sort of learn a little bit about what itmeans to be Indian. We don't have to lose our Indian -qualities. (Kumar, TT-14)Vijay suggests that those who have been to India have asense of culture which they can share with others. For him,cultural knowledge comes not only from socialization withinthe family and taking part in Indo-Canadian activities, butit is also based on personal experience in India.Indian culture overseas is not constructed in isola-tion from influences from India. 102 Continuing links takethe forms of personal visits, study trips both ways, visits102Bhatnagar 1984; Helweg 1986:72-3; Mayer 1959:30-32; NACOI 1984. Appadurai (1991) describes cross-culturalinfluences as complex and multi-directional.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 241here by professionals and artists, information flow throughvarious communication media, and the bringing of materialartifacts. Vijay's father, Mr. Anand, describes the impor-tance of such links. He recognizes that culture changes:The culture won't change completely. It might enrichitself because then there'll be new ones coming in,always pumping ideas. The migration would be there.For instance, if the Indians had stopped coming to B.C.or Canada, say after 1950, and new blood had not comehere, this generation wouldn't have know what's happen-ing there. Even today I would say third generationIndians would like to visit India and see for their ownwhat is their ancestry, what did they leave behind, whatis there. . . . The Indian who leaves India and goesoverseas takes certain amount of culture with him.^Ifhe doesn't go back home, or doesn't go back to India atall, and if he doesn't read or stay in contact, then hejust preserves that old culture. India itself today hasbecome very modern. . . . There is need of new blood allthe time. But the only way you can get that is by cul-ture exchange, go up there, visit the country, bring thebest things. (TT-5)Kumar's mother has been committed to exposing her childrento India and to their relatives there:And I think the most important thing [for maintainingculture for the children], now looking back, other thanour network here, was our constant touch with people inIndia. In the last sixteen years we all went back . . .five times. The whole family used to go, and spend liketwo, two and a half months with them, talk to them. . .. Very few people actually will spend the money and keepthose roots alive. I think it's really crucial to theIndian community. . . . I mean I couldn't afford thetrips that I took in those days. I mean I could havelived so much more comfortably here if I didn't do it.But there's an urge within you to keep going backregardless of the price. (TT-13)This taste of both worlds has a double impact. Onthe one hand, young people who go find their Indian sense of6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 242identity strengthened. Kumar describes the influence thesetrips had on him:I think it's very--it was very important for me. Goingto India made me realize who I was. 'Cause when I wasyoung I was very unsure of myself and what I was andwhat I was doing here and was I Canadian or was I anIndo-Canadian. But when I went to India, that's when Irealized that I was a Hindu and I was Indo-Canadian.(TT-Y1)On the other hand, those who go hold more con-temporary conceptions of India than those who have remainedisolated from it and perpetuate values and practices whichwere common when they (or their parents) left. Those who gofind it easier to subscribe to an Indian identity based oncontemporary urban Indian ways which are not so "old fash-ioned" as to be out of step with their own lives here:My Mom and Dad having three daughters, it [marriage] wassomething that was always on their mind. But aftergoing to India my aunt told them, 'I don't know why youpeople live in such a time warp.' She had a nice heartto heart with my Mom and she was saying, 'It was likeyou guys left India in the '60's and you're still hang-ing on to the values from the '60's. But our kids go todances, our kids date, our kids don't have theserestrictions. So why do you put them on your kidsthere? India has changed in twenty years, you guyshaven't.' That sort of helped. (TT-16)Madhu, who has visited her family in India, also observeschanges there:The new generation's very different. The new generationI found to be very rebellious. . . . They may not dis-play it publicly, but they all have girlfriends and theyall have boyfriends. At least, I hate to use the word,but at least the educated group, 'cause they have asense of where you can look at both views and what'sgoing on in the world.^They all want to do their own6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 243thing. They hate the caste system. They would never--you see so much inter-caste marriages. It's amazing.In the city, not in the villages. . . . Also, you'reseeing the joint families break up. There's not asmany--young people wanting to go off. You canunderstand it too. A young married fellow--of courseit's nice to live with, I guess, a joint family, butthen there's privacy too. That was the one change Inoticed, the biggest change, was that the joint familywas not--you couldn't expect it anymore. You see it, itstill exists, but it's not something you take forgranted any more. . . . And love marriages. Big deal.That's happening even more than the joint family break-ing up. (TT-11)I have so far explicated three definitions or char-acteristics of a Yuva event. One is Yuva's goal to expandand diversify networks between young Indians. Secondly,they reject most orthodox religious beliefs and practices intheir own lives. Yuva also emphasizes culture rather thanreligion, as religion is considered by them to be divisive.Third, as young Indians get to their late teens and earlytwenties, they want to learn more about their culture. Thisis the age group which has formed Yuva, and learning abouttheir own and each others' cultures is one of their agendas.Following is the explication of the fourth aspect of a Yuvaevent, an efficient mode of operating.EFFICIENCYA fourth criterion of a Yuva event is that it bewell organized in contrast to what they perceive as theirparents' informal and ad hoc ways of operating. I have sug-gested that a difference between the 1990 and 1991 Yuva Holi6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 244celebrations represents a development from The FamilyFriends Circle event to a Yuva event. I related this totheir goals of expansion and diversification. The change isalso indicative of their reference group identification inthese matters.As I will illustrate shortly, when it comes to plan-ning, time management, and efficiency, these young peopleidentify with a North American reference group, againstwhich their Indian parents serve as a negative referencegroup. In contrast, their parents positively define Indianmodes of social interaction by characteristics such asflexibility, spontaneity, imprecision, and personal con-tact. 103The youth also hold an ideal conceptualization ofwhat an Indian mode of interaction is, as illustrated in oneof the discussion groups, where the topic of Indian charac-teristics came up (cf. Roland 1986):1 ° 3Compare Bhagat and Kedia (1986), who describe thedifficulty with which Indian professionals in the UnitedStates cope with "the pressures of superficial formalism" ofthe North American business world.Kumar (1988:96-7) describes how time in India isdefined by appropriateness rather than precision.A related perception of time was described to me inrelation to music concerts: "See, one thing happens in NorthAmerican continent here, that we (India Music Society) arealways short of time because the doors close at twelve. Oneo'clock the parking lot will be locked and you won't be ableto get out. The Indian music is such that when the moodarises in the artists, time is no factor" (TT-5).6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 245Ramesh: What really hit me there [in India] . . . whenthey heard some people from Canada were coming, it'slike everyone would come there, 'What do these peoplelook like?' But it's like anybody could come andleave and whatever. That's what I liked about it.Yea, here you can't do that. You can't just go overto somebody's house [general agreement and laughter]unannounced.Kumar: Well, that's not altogether true, there are somepeople that you can just go to anytime.Ranjit: Your families.Kumar: Yea, your families. There are some people whoare always there and you can just go there anytime andsit and talk. But there's always the thing that a lotof places you got to call and go. That's the NorthAmerican society way, right. You can't just go tosomebody's house, 'cause they might be busy. Theygotta do things, you know. [laughter] (TT-Y1 )104In practice the youth themselves are too busy to liveentirely according to the ideal they envision, but thestandard exists for them making that kind of social interac-tion a possible and acceptable norm.Mr. Lal works in a mainstream professional job. Healso talks about applying what he sees as "Indian culture"which is "so different from Canadian" "in our day-to-dayactivities" (TT-12). He speaks about how he has applied itin his job by being flexible, not insisting on precise workhours or rules, dealing with people on a personal level, andapplying situational ethics (cf. Bhagat and Kedia 1986).104Dhar (1973) describes how an Indian neighborhoodis viewed as an extension of one's home. He explains thedifficulty Indians have in adapting to the very differentNorth American urban neighborhood of isolated enclosures.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 246Mr. Bindi is another Yuva parent who holds aresponsible mainstream job. The nature of his job requiresthat he understand mainstream cultural expectations. Heexplains the difference he perceives between the "NorthAmerican" way, his generation of Indians, and the secondgeneration of Indians (cf. Roland 1986):In typical Indian way I let it go. If I was a perfectNorth American I would say, 'Excuse me, this is a verybasic difference of opinion.' . . . I just didn't take astrong position. Because in our community you don't say'no' or 'yes' too strongly because that leaves the doorsopen. To an outsider it will come to a very wishywashy--but it works fine and this is what [his daughteris] hopefully starting to see . . . leave it open. Ithink it's less stressful, too. Set your expectationsto a level where you won't get shattered one way or theother. (TT-2)In relation to the organization of one Indian event Mr.Bindi explains:They have been disorganized and consequently did notthink of it earlier. Kids resist that, kids want every-thing planned ahead. And our community, we don't planthings that way. It is just snap, last minute thing, adhoc decision. It's a group trait. (TT-3)One weekend I came across two different examples of"kids resist[ing] that" (0-3). The first arose at a Yuvacouncil meeting in connection with an activity which one oftheir parents' groups expected Yuva to organize. Yuva coun-cil members and their parents often refer jokingly to thelack of organization of events organized by adults, comparedto the efficiency of the youth. The youth are on many occa-6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 247sions recruited to organize events and are highly praised bytheir parents for their efficiency.On this occasion Yuva had not been formally informedof a last minute change of date which now conflicted withtheir own plans. They had heard about the date from one oftheir parents. They find it hard to accept that the organi-zations and activities in which their parents are involvedare often handled in an informal, ad hoc manner, often withunspoken expectations of what others will do. "They keepgiving us things last minute." One of the Yuva council mem-bers firmly stated, "I'm not going to take this the Indianway." By this she meant that she will not allow the parentsto assume that Yuva will simply be available to comply withthese last minute, ad hoc decisions. The council discussedwhether they should "jump the gun and tell them we can't doit" (i.e. before being formally approached). They decidedto a) take the initiative to inform the parents of their ownplanned schedule, and b) to request the parents' group toformally define their expectations.This was a decisive move away from interactions onthe basis of unarticulated expectations and obligationsbetween family and friends, to more formalized proceedings.By their reference group identification with North Americanmodes of business interaction together with their affirma-6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 248tions of Indian identity, their decisions and actions areredirecting models of interaction between Indians.The second incident was revealed to me the day afterthe Yuva meeting. It does not involve Yuva, but is usefulto describe because it underlines the Yuva incident. I wasspeaking with a young woman who has often organized theV.H.P. shows. She had not planned on doing it this year.Her explanation of how this changed echoed for me theprevious day's discussion at the Yuva meeting. According toVeena, the V.H.P. Board had not done anything about theshow, but had just assumed she would handle it again, inspite of the fact that she had informed them that she wouldnot. At first she refused because she is busy with her owncommitments and because she prefers to be more organizedthan last minute arrangements allow. But she was concernedthat if she did not do it, there might not be a show. Shedid not want to see that happen, either, so she did all herphoning and pulled it together. In this incident, she feltforced to succumb to the unspoken expectations and assump-tions of her elders.Another example of a move from informal family rela-tions to formal procedures is the decision to reimburse themothers for their food contributions. This is a model ofinteraction which contrasts with systems of mutual supportand obligation, in which support is given without immediate6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 249compensation but with an expectation of future reciprocity.The model applied here is not one of Indian family, but oneof short term business interaction (see section on "A FamilyEvent" for elaboration on family ideals).Yuva council members strive to achieve punctualityin their meetings and their planned activities. In the con-text of tight work and study schedules, they, like Veena,feel frustrated when things do not run on time. Throughsometimes joking, sometimes disparaging, remarks about"Indian standard time" they compare their own efficiency totheir perceived inefficiency of adult values and plans.These are held to be both faults and endearing characteristics, depending on which reference group they are aligningthemselves in a given instance, which in turn depends on thepressures and expectations inherent in the situation.Although punctuality is aimed for in Yuva meetings,their Holi Show, contrary to their stated intentions,started late and people wandered in at leisure. None of theyouth were disconcerted about this. Their Holi celebration,in which they are highlighting their Indian identity, canappropriately run late. Here they can good naturedly jokeabout "Indian standard time" as a characteristic in whichthey themselves share.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 250A CULTURAL EVENTIf we didn't have a youth group like that, sure therewould be groups of friends and that kind of thing, butthere'd be nothing organized, nothing could be shown .that these are the cultural events and that. They mayhear of it but they may not actually get to see it. . .. I think what Yuva does by holding cultural events,people can see a little bit of what goes on . . . byexpressing or showing, telling, explaining about whatthe ceremony is, why it's performed, it gives them alittle more sense of the culture, what kind of peoplethey were. (TT-4))I have discussed Yuva's Holi celebration as a Yuvaevent. It is also defined as a cultural event. Here thedistinction between culture as taken-for-granted lived expe-rience, and ethnicity as culture made conscious (Patterson1977) does not hold up. From the point of view inside theIndian community, "Indian events" or "cultural events" areculture made conscious and put on display for insidersand/or others. These contrast with everyday family and com-munity activities.I will discuss the conceptualization of a culturalevent, the role of language, and gender roles in relation toculture.MAKING THE EVENT "CULTURAL"In order to make this event cultural, Indian food isserved along with other snacks, and all Yuva members,including the young men, dress in their Indian clothes. Themain component of Yuva's Holi celebration as a culturalevent is the cultural or talent show.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 251In order to emphasize the conscious aspect of acultural event like Holi, I will briefly contrast it to aYuva dance, which is designated by them as a "social," not a"cultural," event (0-1). Yuva dances provide opportunitiesfor Indo-Canadian youth of both sexes to get together.Indian culture is not consciously displayed. There is noIndian food and English is the only language spoken. Dressis fashionable Western-style clothing for that age group.However, bhangra--a style of Punjabi folk dance,popularized in Britain, and becoming a fad here as wel1 105--is included. According to the lengthy discussions at Yuvacouncil meetings, a requirement for a disk jockey is that hehave current, popular bhangra tapes, and that he play justthe right mixture of bhangra and rock. Too much is notappreciated, as expressed in a review of one of the dancesby a council member:. . . a lot of people complained about the music.Apparently there was too much Punjabi music . . . wedon't usually have that much. Because a lot of kidsjust don't feel comfortable dancing to it yet. We don'twant to get a reputation for being one of those danceswhere you just play Indian music the whole time, and theDJ was quite strictly sticking to that for quite a whileuntil a lot of us went up and said, 'Can you play some-thing else?' 'Cause I myself don't like dancing to thatstuff all the time. It's fun for a while. . . . it's1 ° 5See Wong (1990). A full examination of the placewhich bhangra has as an expression of cultural identity foryouth, and the degree to which it continues to have an asso-ciation with Punjabi culture, is a topic for furtherresearch.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 252been done but it's always done with just one or twosongs. Maybe not more than five songs for the wholedance.The social dances contain elements of Indian popular cul-ture, but it is not consciously exhibited. In contrast,Yuva's Holi celebration as a designated "cultural" event isan occasion for consciously displaying, demonstrating, andsharing culture.In response to a question about what "culture" meansfor Yuva, Vijay describes what he means by culture:. . . where we start is ceremonies. Most people thatcome to Yuva know a little about their background. Buta large part of what you were calling the Indian way oflife . . . a large part of that is the ceremonies . . .the religious ceremonies. A lot of the culture is basedon strong religious background. Things happen in Indiabecause of--the explanations are because of the God haddone this, and there are stories that go on and on and -on, and a lot of that is celebrated certain days[speaking in an awed and enthusiastic tone]. So what westarted, we have like a Holi thing with the throwing ofthe colours . . . and there's a story behind that. . . .(TT-4)The rituals and mythology express cultural values andbeliefs. Participation in celebrations is enacting culture.Anyone who has experienced Holi, even the youngpeople, recognize that this celebration is a pale imitationof the real thing in India. Nevertheless, the authenticityof Holi as an Indo-Canadian event is strengthened by thefact that most of the participants are Indian, and thatthese participants understand it to be an Indian event andare therefore implicated in constructing it as such.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 253LANGUAGEIn the context of cultural activities, language isalways an issue which pulls in opposite directions. On theone hand, a strong motivation for parents to teach theirchildren their native Indic languages is to keep them intouch with their heritage. Being able to speak with rela-tives is, as will be seen in the statements following, astrong incentive for parents to teach their children, andfor the children themselves to learn the language as well asa means to do so.On the other hand, it is partly the use of Hindi andother Indic languages in temples and organized functions,which is cited as a cause of making young people feelalienated and keeping them away from community events. Theuse of regional languages is also a factor in keeping sepa-rate the activities of Hindi speakers, Bengalis, Gujaratis,Punjabis, Tamils, Maharashtrians, Malayalam speakers, and soon.The suggestion that, "Maybe somebody should do it inHindi" is a tentative gesture to appropriate language as anexpression of culture. But the response that "nobodyunderstands it" reflects the inappropriateness of Indic lan-guages as a cultural marker for youth. Language is anexpression of identity for parents. The second generation's6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 254first language and lingua franca (as it is in India, too) isEnglish. 106Nevertheless, most Indian children are socializedinto at least understanding simple conversations in theirparents' Indic languages. The following statements byparents demonstrate a range of strategies used to pass thelanguage on:For the first couple of years, you guys [addressing herson] lost the language, remember, we didn't speak it athome. Then we went back to India and they couldn't talkto their relatives and it hit me, 'What am I doing? . .. We want to be able to talk to our relative when we goback. And English they'll know, I don't have to harp onthe English language, that will come naturally. . . .We started speaking in Hindi. . . . [now] they'll speakHindi and they'll understand. (TT-14))But nowadays, our generation [i.e. their children] isnot understanding Hindi at all. . . . they speak, theyhear, they think in English. . . . They [her daughters]understand [Hindi] very well. They used to take les-sons. They can write in Hindi letters to my, our grand-mother. . . . [V.H.P.] wanted some Hindi teachers. So Isaid sure. . . . At home--[friend]'s daughter and mydaughter are same age, so we said--it was sometimes noteasy to go to temple every Sunday--'We have something orthe other.' So we started having classes individually.(TT-17)See, the good part was, when my Dad was here, he did notspeak English. And even now, when they have to meetsomeone who cannot speak, [snaps fingers] then they dospeak. But all the cousins [in India] speak in English.(TT-10)The following conversation between Mrs. Nandi andher children illustrates further means of learning language:106Salman Rushdie (1991:61-70) argues that Englishis an Indian language.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 255Mrs. Nandi: When I speak in Gujarati, he's answering inEnglish. . . . he can understand everything but hedoesn't want to talk back in Gujarati--Narendra (her son): Yea, I can understand everything--Mrs. Nandi: Yea, he can understand everything, because Idon't speak English at home. . . . I want my childrento learn my language so they can understand my songs,they can know about God, they can sing . . .Jyoti: I understand Hindi because I watch Hindi moviesand stuff, it's easier to understand--Mrs. Nandi: Because we are singing, you know--Jyoti: Yea, all the Indian songs we sing, most of them,are in Hindi--Mrs. Nandi: Yea, so we can speak in Hindi, and we cansing in Hindi. (TT-9)Some of the Yuva members give their descriptions of learninglanguage:When I was younger my parents would not allow us tospeak English at home. They'd ignore us if we asked forsomething in English. They'd say 'No, ask me this inHindi.' So they kind of in a way made us speak the lan-guage. But then we all went to India quite a few timesand when we were younger we picked up the language. (TT-Y1))I'm learning Hindi [at U  B C ] ^Gujarati I've--myparents made efforts to teach us. On Sundays at thetemple they have Gujarati classes, but I didn't liketheir methods. I was too young, and I don't think theywere proper teachers, and I couldn't pick it up the waythey were trying to teach it. My parents tried to teachme at home. I guess I could read it to a certainextent, probably could write a little bit. Speak it'snot absolute fluent, but I can speak, and I canunderstand. (TT-4)You'll find that the little kids coming back [fromIndia] speak fluently, they're just rattling offBengali, it's just coming out of their mouth. The otherthing, when I go, it's easier for me to communicate with6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 256my cousins or my aunts and uncles over there, because Iknow the language, so it isn't a barrier. Even thoughthey know English and they speak it well, 'cause theylearn in English in India, so the communication part ofit is not a problem. But when you speak in their lan-guage, I don't know, it would seem it makes them morecomfortable. It makes me more comfortable, too. Idon't stand out. But you can tell I'm not from Calcutta• • • 'cause I have an accent I would assume . . . mypronunciation's different and stuff. (TT-8)I can speak Punjabi and Hindi but I'm not extremelyfluent in either. I can carry on a conversation and cancomprehend fully. My parents can speak both. In thehouse they speak Punjabi to each other and to us. We'vealways responded to them in English, we've never spokento them in Punjabi. My mother's mother never spoke aword of English. She used to live in [their town] sothat's--and then going back to India you pick up alittle bit. (TT-16)The second generation grow up hearing Hindi or otherIndic language spoken at home. It is common for children tounderstand their parents speaking their Indic language, butto respond in English (Wakil 1981:937). Some parents arecontent to expose their children to the language, even ifthey do not speak it; others insist that their childrenspeak; still others provide some sort of formal or informaltraining. Having to communicate with grandparents and otherrelatives who do not speak English, either here or in India,is a powerful incentive. Hindi films and music are also away to learn some Hindi.These statements give the impression that somesimple Hindi could certainly be attempted and understood atthe Holi celebration. But English is a broader common6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 257denominator, and so it is chosen. They are integratingIndian culture in a form they can easily understand.CONSTRUCTIONS OF GENDERYuva male and female members work together to pro-duce this cultural event. In doing so, they reproduce someaspects of gender roles at the same time as they blur somerole definitions.Indian girls and women are often referred to asculture-bearers (cf. Leonard 1989):They [parents] seem to feel the importance of theirdaughters learning dance for the sake of acquiringphysical grace and appreciation of the art while uncon-sciously maintaining the female role of culture-bearerwithin the family tradition. Parents express the factthat if the daughters appreciate and imbibe the idealsof Indian feminine behaviour, then these values will bepassed down into the next generation. (Naimpally1989:16; see also Nodwell 1985)Respondents perceive that girls are pushed more andhave higher expectations held of them in relation to dressand food habits, participation in the arts, and religion(Naimpally 1989). The expectation that daughters willimbibe and pass on culture is expressed in a Yuva discussiongroup:Ramesh (male): I really don't have that much Indian cul-ture. I know it's sad but it's true.•^•^•Manjit (female): [Ramesh], you don't have to answerthis, but in a way do you, uh, not really resent yourparents, but do you wish they taught you how to speak6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 258the language better and pushed you into the culture alittle bit more?Ramesh: . . . Yea, looking back I wish. It would be alot easier. Definitely.Manjit: If you ended up marrying somebody who was thesame as you, would you push it onto your kids?Ramesh: Yea, I would have no doubts about that. But I'msure in that case the person I would marry, and shespoke the language, I'm sure she would do most of theteaching or whatever. Also, she would be teaching metoo. (TT-Y2)One mother of teenagers expresses a similar perception:Those boys do not do enough to retain their culture.But we expect that when they get married, their wiveswill make sure that they do it. I only hope that theydon't go out and marry somebody else or that's the endof the culture and religion. (TT-6)Ramesh's experience as a male is one of not being pushedinto cultural activities and knowledge. Comments by others,parents and children, confirm that this is common. Con-versely, both statements portray an expectation, also com-monly held, that girls will maintain their culture and inthe future instill it in their own families.My research has suggested that Indo-Canadian women'sroles characterize them as culture bearers. Indian women'sroles as homemakers and child nurturers (Ghosh 1981; Naidoo1984) gives them the close contact with their children whichallows for serving as role models and socializing theirchildren. They often engage in teaching cultural skillssuch as language, cooking, ritual practices, and singing anddancing to their own and others' children.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 259My research has most clearly revealed two aspects ofwomen's roles as culture bearers: 1) they are active inreligious practice, and 2) they are involved in dance andsinging.In relation to the first role definition, Burghart(1987c:9) comments:Although Hinduism's privileged spokesmen are almostinvariably Brahman and ascetic men, women take the moreactive role among the laity in the perpetuation of reli-gious life. (cf. Naidoo 1984)Wakil et al. (1981:938) present a table which indi-cates that of the participants in their study (primarilyHindu, also Sikh, Muslim, and Christian from India andPakistan), 82% of mothers and 72% of fathers were concerned"to a great extent" about their children learning and prac-ticing their religion. The same table shows that 42% ofgirls and 23% of boys were interested in learning about andpracticing their religion "to a great extent."At Sunday prayer meetings in Hindu mandirs there istypically a higher attendance by women. (Special occasionstend to draw entire families). Those who adhere to reli-gious practices tend to insist that their daughters alsotake part in religious activities. Girls in their teens andearly twenties are visible at prayer meetings, but rarelyare boys in this age group in evidence (cf. Taylor 1976:88-96, 109-114).6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 260Hindu women have responsibilities to perform variousrituals aimed at ensuring the well being of their families.Karva Chauth, for example, is an important annual Hinducelebration for this purpose. Mrs. Kapoor, for example, whodescribes herself as not very religious in the sense of fol-lowing ritual practices, fasts on this day. Other celebra-tions, such as Durga Puja, Navratri, and Tulsi Vivaha,revolve primarily around women's rituals (a male Brahmanpujari, however, presides and, in Vancouver, takes someguidance from the women in attendance). Yuva members notethat, even in daily worship, their mothers tend to adhere toreligious practices more than their fathers:Anil: I guess my Mom is a little more religious than myDad. . . . My Mom does nag at me quite a bit, 'Oh youshould wake up in the morning and pray for ten or fif-teen minutes.'EN: Does she do that?Anil: Yea, my Mom does.EN: Does your Dad do it?Anil: Um, no.Jyoti: That's exactly with my parents. My Dad doesn'tdo it--Anita: Our whole family does.Jyoti: Did your Dad always?Anita: Yea.Anil: I'd have to say my Mom is quite religious.Kumar: My family is not at all. We've never done any-thing like that. I think that's mainly because of6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 261our--just the way we were even in India. We had amandir in India in our house, but my mother's side,they were never really into--like they all believe andthey all go to the mandir--but they were never reallyinto praying every day.Sunil: My Mom does, my Dad doesn't. Every morning aftershe takes a shower she has a little thing set up in acloset--Jyoti: My Mom does the same thing--Sunil: And she says her little verses--Jyoti: Yea, my Mom does the same thing.Jas: I guess I'm not that religious. My Mom is theone--every Sunday [she goes to Gurdwara]--if she'sworking she won't--my Dad goes with her. Whenever myMom and my Dad say go, I always go with them. When-ever they say they're going I say, 'Okay, I'll comewith you.' I won't just go out of the blue by myself.(TT-Y2)This is not to say that men are not involved in religiousactivities at home. In the Das household, for example, Mrs.Das has always had a small mandir in their bedroom, and inaddition to saying prayers, she makes an offering from everymeal and serves prasad. Recently Mr. Das has set up alarger mandir in an alcove where he performs daily prayersand offers puja every morning. Mr. Chand, now retired, alsohas a mandir in his office closet (most Hindu homes havesuch mandirs in the parents' bedroom or in a spare roomcloset) where he regularly says prayers, offers pujas, andmeditates. Yet, while not all women observe religious prac-tices equally strictly, and many men are also committed totheir religions, women appear to be at least as rigorous in6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 262religious practices and temple attendance as their husbandsor often more so.Of the individuals taking part in the Yuva discus-sions, the young Hindu and Sikh women (e.g. Jyoti, Lakshmi,Manjit) admit to being religious in the sense ofspirituality and belief in God, whether or not they sub-scribe to all the ritual practices. The young men (Ramesh,Kumar, Vijay; all Hindu) on the other hand, expressrejection of religiosity in favour of more pragmatic atti-tudes such as they attribute to their fathers. Yuva membersdescribe their fathers as being more open-minded, practicaland down to earth.Kumar summarizes what the group had discussed:I think that the mothers try to make their daughtersmore the way they are, like in terms of religion and soon. Whereas the fathers don't do the same for the sons.[general agreement] Or they wouldn't be as concernedabout the son because the son can do whatever he wants.But the daughter should learn how to cook, she should goto the mandir.Expectations of religious observance by girls aretransmitted to the second generation through role modelingor direct pressure. Yuva members discuss their observa-tions:Ramesh: The way I look at it is, I know a lot morepeople who know a lot about it [religion] who are thesame age--Kumar: A lot of guys, a lot of girls, or both?Ramesh: I don't know, both--6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 263Kumar: I don't think guys know, in general. I thinkgirls know a lot more, in general. That's what Ifind. I know a few people that I know my age, I knowa few guys that know a lot about the religion, but Ithink a lot more girls--Ramesh: Yea, I think you're right--Kumar: What do you think? [to one of the girls]Gita: I agree. My brother, like he comes around--whenever my parents tell him to go anywhere he'll,like, go [she makes a face] . . . the arti, but otherthan that he'll just sit there like, 'Can we leavenow?'Related to religious adherence, Jyoti's mother isalso more insistent about her daughter than her son noteating meat. For her, this is part of being Indian andHindu:Eating meat, you know, I don't like if girls, they goand eat meat. . . . it's against the religion to eatmeat, especially for girls when we are praying, we knowwhen we go to the temple we pray. . . . Because I havebeen brought up in a very religious family. . . . wepray to God, we don't eat meat, and we respect ourparents. So I want my children to become like that. Sowhat if we are living in Canada or a Western country, Idon't care where they are living. We are Indians, wewant to stay like Indians. We are Hindus. We don't eatmeat. (TT-9)This case study indicates that women observe religious prac-tices more conscientiously than men, and that higherexpectations are placed on girls than on boys as far asreligious observance goes.The second women's role definition is participatingin dance and singing. Many adult women are active in danc-6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 264ing and singing and teach both in formal classes andinformally at home (Nodwell 1993). Many young girls areexpected to learn some of these skills. 1 ° 7In Vancouver, Indian women and girls far outnumberthe men and boys in participation in Indian dance and music.The following conversation, a response to a question aboutgender differences in culture, indicates that this is aresult of expectations and socialization. I quote a ratherlong passage because the conversation demonstrates how thespeakers define differences between each others' com-munities. At the same time, underlying shared perceptionsenable them to sympathize and to laugh together:Ramesh (Gujarati): It's [dancing] expected, though, of agirl, isn't it, for girls to do that?Manjit (Sikh): In our culture [Sikh] guys do lots ofBhangra--Ranjit (Sikh): There's very few for women, but there'sstarting to be more. It's the opposite in ours, yea--Manjit: And guys are pretty active in our religion too.Even in the Gurdwara they're all men--107Leonard (1989:22,n.30; see also pp. 13-15) citesa study from Los Angeles by Kiran Ghei, "From Bhangra toKuchipudi: Movement Dimensions of Indian Public Events inLos Angeles" presented at the West Coast Conference of theAsian Studies Association, Long Beach, October 1989.Leonard describes that Ghei "speculates that women and girlsare primarily responsible for carrying on Indian culture inthe United States, particularly through learning and per-forming Indian dance."In some Indian families in Vancouver, public dancingand performing retains a stigma. My data does not, howeverallow me to comment further on this, as all the Yuvarespondents do dance and perform.6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 265Ranjit: It's male dominated--EN: But that would be true in the mandirs, too, wouldn'tit?Lakshmi (Bengali): Yea--Kumar (Hindi speaking Hindu): The Pandit is a man . . .mainly controlled by men, that's true. But, yea, Ifind that with us, more girls do things than guys do.Guys don't really do that much. Girls do the singing,dancing, all that--Manjit: Cooking [laughter] . . . go ahead, say it--[laughter]Kumar: No, that's really true, girls do most of the--andguys--Ranjit: Maybe 'cause they're interested in it more thanguys are?Kumar: Maybe they just get pushed more into that areathan guys do--Ramesh: It's expected--Kumar: Like nobody expects-- . . . I think in our . . .the girls are pushed to do these things when they'reyounger. The guys are not expected to do--to get intodancing or singing. Guys are expected to learn aboutthe car or whatever [laughter] things like that . . .I guess it's very different for you guys (addressingRanjit and Manjit).Ranjit: Actually, all the Gujarati girls I do know, theyare all in Kathak dancing . . . all of them--Kumar: Actually, that's an important thing. If you evergo to Navratri, this is the scene . . . It's in a biggym and there's a big circle. There's all girls,ladies, from little kids up to oldest ladies, and justall ladies, all women. And up in the bleachers, right[holds his hands up like binoculars and mimes peeringover all the dancers. Everyone laughs] . . . guys . .. talking . . . and sometimes there's a few guys thatget dancing, and there's a few older gentlemen whostart dancing, and some of the younger. But it's6:HOLI CONSTRUCTION 266about ninety percent and ten percent. Only when itreally gets going or only on the last day do you seeall the guys get involved. You [to Ramesh] know whatI'