Changing traditions through generations

South Asian migration from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India to the UK in the 50’s and 60’s enriched the diversity of the UK, through cuisine, music, and clothes. 

Decades on, those influences continue, and generations since have adapted their ancestral customs and traditions to accompany their British heritage. 

Jasmit and Jaswant Phull, from Lincoln, came to the UK in 1979 and memories of their native India continue to shape who they are. 

Jaswant and Jasmit had an arranged marriage. Credit: Family photo

Like many of their generation, they had an arranged marriage, where parents find a suitable partner for their children.

‘’The norm was to get an arranged marriage, this is the culture I was brought up in. I knew what my dad chose would be best for me. If I had to choose my own I would have never gotten married because I’d be looking for a James Bond!’’

Although arranged marriages are still an option for many communities in the UK, Jasmit and Jaswant didn’t expect the same of their two sons. 

Jaspal and Jaspreet both had ‘love marriages’. They married outside of their race and culture, making way for new traditions of their own. 

‘’'What an Inspiration, I think our parent arranged marriage is something that they always said they don't necessarily want you to feel like you have to have an arranged marriage.'’

''People have to make choices about their own religion, their own identity, and whatever feels natural should be what the individual follows. 

‘’It’s more than just the turban, or the visibility, what you wear or eat.''

Both sons hold their heritage and Sikhism close to their hearts. Their experiences have been shaped by their life in the UK.

Unlike their parents and generations before them, they eat traditional food and wear traditional clothes less frequently. 

Jasmit and Jaswant made an ‘agonising’ decision to not wear the turban, also known as the Dastar. It is used to show the observance of Sikh teachings and also protects their long unshorn hair.

But for both sons, it’s about the values of unity and family that have been passed down over the past four decades. 

How their south asian identity is carried has changed like many other families across the UK. What is ‘lost’ in tradition is made up by the diversity of two identities - British and south Asian. 

Yet, the pride of being from a Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or Indian background is never lost. 

''Though we're abroad, we may change our appearance, we may look a bit different, but your identity is there.’’