Thursday, December 12, 2013

Multiculturalism in Action: Indian Culture Workshop 2013-2014

Generations of Indians have made their home in Hong Kong since the 19th century. Indian cuisines, religion, and art have been incorporated to various degrees in the local culture. Curry dishes in particular have become part of the local diet, while yoga and meditation have broadened the local repertoire of physical and mental health. The Indian community celebrates its many festivals throughout the year, notably the annual Diwali, when local business sectors benefit from the gold and silver purchases and catering demands. Yet, little attention has been paid to the cultural contribution of this community as Hong Kong develops into a global city. Stereotypes and misunderstandings spring from cross-cultural ignorance, which all too often lead to social isolation and discrimination.

As an initiative to promote understanding of Indian culture as part of Hong Kong’s local heritage, an Indian culture workshop named "Multiculturalism in Action" was organized by Professor Siumi Maria Tam, funded by the Knowledge Transfer Office and sponsored by the Department of Anthropology, CUHK. From September to November 2013, seven seminars were held including on-campus sessions and outside visits. Using traditional festivals, Bollywood movies, and food etc as a lens, guest speakers talked about the Indian diaspora in Hong Kong, and shared their personal experience growing up as an Indian in a Chinese society. 

The seminars together with field visits granted participants a great opportunity to learn the meanings and significance of Indian religions, the family, and daily practices. Participants of the workshop are expected to make a short presentation to local secondary schools about one of the aspects in Indian culture in the spring of 2014, and to share their new-found knowledge to more mainstream young people.  There will also be a cross-cultural program co-organized with the Indian community as the Workshop finale.

Below are some of the pictures from the past seminars and field visits held by the workshop.

Sep 21: Mr and Mrs Rao giving a talk on the first seminar-- "Who are the Indians?: Truths and myths"

Sep 28: Field visit to International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON): An experience in Hinduism, Indian food and dress
Mr. Steven Matthew lecturing on religious traditions in India

Ms. Lillian Tsang leading a Hindu hymn

Participants visiting the designated kitchen in ISKCON where the offering to the god is prepared

Participants trying on Indian style dress

The Hindu god Krishna worshipped in ISKCON

Oct 5: Mr. Vivek Mahbubani (middle), a stand-up comedian, giving a public lecture on his experience growing up as an Indian born in Hong Kong. (For details click here.)

Oct 13: Mr. Sanjib Sengupta (standing) explaining the history behind the Durga Puja—the annual festival worshipping the Hindu goddess Durga.

Oct 26 : Ms. Meera Rhoria (front, 3rd from left) sharing on the cultural meaning of Diwali—the festival of lights

Nov 23:  Ms. Minaz Master (far right) enjoying Indian cuisine with the participants after giving a talk on Bollywood movies

Dec 8: A Hindu wedding at ISKCON

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