lifestyle
Run of the mill
The generations of Pakistanis who immigrated to Lancashire after the World War II have adopted the British way of life completely
By Zahrah Nasir
The grass is certainly greener in Lancashire, North-West England, than back at home in Pakistan. Somehow, the gazing sheep which dot the lush countryside, the not so lush hills which tend to dominate the scenery and bear fleece the colour of industrial pollution does not deter an ever-increasing volume of Pakistani tourists.

Greener pastures
The highlight of Kandy was the tour of the historical 17th century Temple of the Tooth
By Noveen Abid
I remember the summer some years ago when I went to Sri Lanka, the summer I went to Kandy.
Kandy is Sri Lanka's popular tourist destination, much like our own Murree, except for the fact that pollution or population has not marred its beauty. Lush and tropical, boasting of vast tea and spice plantations; Kandy is also seeped in cultural and religious history. The highlight of visiting Kandy was the tour of the historical 17th century Temple of the Tooth. Known locally as the Dalada Maligava, it is the place where Buddha's tooth is said to have been buried.

 

Run of the mill

The generations of Pakistanis who immigrated to Lancashire after the World War II have adopted the British way of life completely

By Zahrah Nasir

The grass is certainly greener in Lancashire, North-West England, than back at home in Pakistan. Somehow, the gazing sheep which dot the lush countryside, the not so lush hills which tend to dominate the scenery and bear fleece the colour of industrial pollution does not deter an ever-increasing volume of Pakistani tourists.

The reason for heading to this county, aside from the ever-popular golden mile of Blackpool on the coast, is plain and simple -- to visit relatives and possibly check out the suitability of available brides and grooms, the parents of whom dangle the lure of British nationality before the suitably awestruck eyes of their 'victims'.

Experimental statistics indicate that, as of mid-2007, an estimated 45,200 Pakistanis (3.1% of the population) reside in what was once the cotton mill county of Lancashire with Indians close behind at 35,200 (2.4%), Bangladeshis way down the list at 5,100 (0.4%) and British Asians including those from East Africa at 4,500 (0.3%) yet, for some obscure reason, most indigenous white Lancastrians refer to all Asians as being Pakistani which can be a tad confusing for the uninitiated.

Pakistanis and Indians first arrived in large numbers here in the aftermath of World War II when recruiters from the cotton mills travelled to Asia in search of staff for the cotton industry. White labourers, both skilled and unskilled, were uncomfortable to work the long hours, particularly night shifts in the industry. The recruiters tended to head for central and northern regions of these countries, feeling, quite wrongly, that workers from here would more easily adjust to climatic conditions in Lancashire than their compatriots in the hotter south. The recruiting drives were an instant success and amongst those signing on the dotted line were a huge chunk of residents from 250 villages who had been displaced by the construction of Mangla Dam. Pastures new were offered and they jumped at the chance of emigrating to better lives and prospects.

The Pendle and Ribble Valley's towns and villages such as Manchester, Preston, Oldham, Burnley, Padiham, Blackburn, Preston and Clitheroe found themselves having to adjust to life alongside immigrants whom they couldn't understand either culturally or linguistically and, although both sides initially struggled for acceptance, they soon gave up and the areas in which immigrants hold sway came in to being.

Every single cotton town has its traditional 'Khyber Pass' as white Lancastrians refer to the main street of any Asian locality. In the small market town of Clitheroe, an attractive rural place of Norman Castles, ancient manors and focal point for a large farming community sandwiched between the banks of the River Ribble and witch haunted Pendle Hill, this was originally on Whalley Road where tiny, often dilapidated, terraced houses offered the prospect of cheap home ownership for the new-comers desperate for a place of their own. Tales of how they knocked down attic partitions to make shared sleeping areas running through entire rows of houses were woven around the market place where the sound of Punjabi vied with the local dialect, shalwar kameez vied with skirts and the demand for exotic vegetables and spices spiraled.

White children were warned not to walk down Whalley Road after dark and, no doubt, Asian children were advised not to linger in white areas either. The self-imposed segregation proved calm and peaceful and life went placidly on until the collapse of the mills in the 1970's when unemployment in all sectors of society raised its ugly head.

Naturally, by this time there were generations of British-born Pakistanis, youngsters speaking with broad Lancashire accents, dressing in fashionable clothes and primed for jobs in far more lucrative fields than mill work.

The nasty specter of racism reared its ugly head in 2001, not in Clitheroe but in the much larger town of Burnley on the other side of Pendle Hill when three days of British National Party (B.N.P.) instigated riots, pitching white youths against Asian ones, brought the area to a standstill and riot police in bullet proof vests out to regain a modicum of law and order.

But, despite the odds, Pakistani tourists continued to fly half way round the globe to visit relatives whose off springs they are increasingly unable to communicate with. English versus Urdu/Punjabi language barriers aside, young British Pakistanis are going all out to fully assimilate themselves in to the land in which they were born. Without having any natural ties to Pakistan, other than that their parents or grandparents were born there, they see no reason to pay court to 'foreign' visitors, related or not, and are far more at home in pizza parlours, discos and pubs than they are in the restaurants, corner shops, market stalls or other small businesses from which they earn a communal living -- unless, of course, they have been lucky enough to break out of the family rut.

Visitors from 'home' find themselves increasingly isolated and confused when faced with this conundrum and completely overwhelmed if their relatives have done exceedingly well for themselves, climbing the ladder of success all the way to lavish private houses to which they could never have aspired in Pakistan and, whilst some of them pull out all the stops to obtain a little bit of this lifestyle for themselves, via a wedding if possible, others simply pack their bags and flee home to a country and culture they still understand.

 

 

Greener pastures

The highlight of Kandy was the tour of the historical 17th century Temple of the Tooth

 

By Noveen Abid

I remember the summer some years ago when I went to Sri Lanka, the summer I went to Kandy.

Kandy is Sri Lanka's popular tourist destination, much like our own Murree, except for the fact that pollution or population has not marred its beauty. Lush and tropical, boasting of vast tea and spice plantations; Kandy is also seeped in cultural and religious history. The highlight of visiting Kandy was the tour of the historical 17th century Temple of the Tooth. Known locally as the Dalada Maligava, it is the place where Buddha's tooth is said to have been buried.

Simple stone steps lead up to the temple and elephants stand at the front. The simple exterior: red roofs and white walls do not prepare one for the wonders that lay inside. I was overawed upon entering the temple -- the roof was intricately carved and decorated with inlaid woods, ivory, and lacquer. The perimeter of the building is marked by a low white wall, which has a number of small openings that are used to hold candles to light up the boundaries. The large hallways marking the entrance to the temple are lined with detailed paintings which tell the story of Buddha and how the tooth came to be buried here; it is said that the tooth was saved from the cremation of Buddha and was given to the King of Kalinga for safe-keeping. It was later displayed to save the country from drought. The relic of the tooth is kept in a two-story inner shrine fronted by two large elephant tusks. The relic rests on a solid gold lotus flower, encased in jewelled caskets that sit on a throne.

It was an anti-climax not to see the tooth itself. But we were told that it is brought out once a year on the Esala Perahera, a 10-day torch light parade of dancers and drummers, with attendants from all over Asia -- it is almost the biggest Buddhist celebration in the world. At the festival, the president and leaders of Sri Lanka continue the nationalist Buddhist tradition by also taking part in the festivities. When religious places assume a nationalistic character, becoming the identity of a place, they attract more people, rather than selective groups.

What is even more fascinating about the place is that it was badly destroyed in 1998 by bombings by Hindu Tamil separatists. A large part of the roof and the fašade was damaged. In some places the bombshells could be seen buried in the roof but almost the entire temple had been restored by careful reconstruction. Owing to the political situation in the country, the tooth relic is now almost never brought out in the fear of it being stolen or destroyed.

Tourists, Buddhist monks and worshippers, locals and even Christians throng the temple each day. It seems like the centre of Buddhist activity in the area. The area exudes a peaceful vibe, even though a lot of people walk in and out of the temple, the inner sanctum stays quiet and tranquil. There are separate areas allocated for offerings, for the display of paintings and ornaments, and finally the place where the tooth relic is laid. Buddhist monks, clad in white, sit in groups inside; some involved deep in worship and some talking in low voices.

The whole visit was definitely an eye opener for me. The Tooth temple is a must stop for anyone visiting Kandy. It is a marvel waiting to be discovered.

 


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