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South Asian culture is rich with generations of customs and traditions. Two interesting customs are the ambivalence towards being called “Desi” and arranged marriages.
The word “Desi” can be used as a noun or adjective to describe the South Asia diaspora people. It is a Hindu word that means something akin to what we know as “country.” Depending on whom you are speaking with, “Desi” has been used as both a put-down and as a word of ethnic pride (Zimmer, 2013). The word has a long-standing of being used by South Asians to describe South Asians who were born in the United States. Others used this term as an offense to indicate that because of the second generation’s mix of South-Asian and Western cultures, they are confused.
In the ’90s, the younger generations reclaimed the word’s use to make a space for them to be identified as South-Asian-Americans. They felt reclaiming the name empowered them because they identified as neither fully South- Asian nor fully American.
South Asians comprise a variety of peoples with varied languages, ancestry and, cultures. As such, not all wanted to group in one category for identification purposes. For example, Sri Lankans detested being called “Desi” because it was a title imposed on them from India, not a title they made for themselves.
Today, most South Asians would prefer to be identified by the nation of their origin. Some prefer to be called South-Asian, and some prefer being called ‘Desi.” For some, the word is offensive is a sign of ethnic pride.
Marriages that parents and elders arrange are another custom of interest. The practice has started to shift in how often it occurs due to influences of western culture. Traditionally Indian culture operated under a theory of collective control. Historically marriage was seen as the union of two families from the same class. It was a way to maintain the systems that kept others outside of the “group.” The purpose of marriage was to maintain and strengthen the group. It was not about western ideas of individualism and expressions of love. As second and third generations are being raised in the west, parents have struggled with what is more important; their children’s success or maintenance belong to a group. Many new immigrants may find themselves struggling with maintaining traditions or promoting academic and professional success for their sons and daughters. They often find that they have to forego some traditions such as the arranged marriage in promoting success. The function of an arranged marriage is weakened in the West. In their countries of origin, South Asians felt an obligation to family duties and traditions. Arranged marriages set boundaries between religions, caste systems, and class (Salam, 2014). In the west, marriage functions differently. As generations spend more time in the west, depending on their acculturation level, they see marriage as an individualized need, less familial need.
When working with clients from South Asia, the counselor should consider the client’s ethnicity and current acculturation level. Another consideration to keep in mind is how the family functions to emphasize socialization with their culture and the level of push from family to assimilate western culture for academic and professional success.
As with any client, ethnicity influences that person’s worldview. It is necessary to have a level of understanding about how the client sees themselves and the world in which they live. It is essential to understand the acculturation level because the level of acculturation may be a source of stress for the client. Additionally, some immigrant parents may push their children towards academic and professional success. In doing so in the parents may be sending mixed signals for their children, such as being American, talking perfect English, and adopting American ways to be accepted and succeed, but at home, you are Pakistani. This can be a source of stress for both the parent and the child.
Family is the foundation of a Pakistani home. The social life of a Pakistani revolves around family. Extended relatives play a significance in the daily lives of the family members. Pakistanis rely on family for protection, financial and social support. In the West and Pakistan, family members, if not sharing one household, live near each other. Pakistani families are traditionally patriarchal. Men are the main source of income. According to Islamic custom, if the woman works, her income is hers to spend how she desires. Men are expected to earn for the family.
Some traditionalists practice “purdah,” which means that a woman cannot leave her home without being veiled and accompanied by a man. A traditional Pakistani will see a woman as the one who brings shame to the family. Many Pakistani marriages are arranged today by family elders. Marriage is a way to ally two families. Love has a small, if any, role to play. Some families will allow their children to chose their mate, but the marriage only happens with both families’ approval. Marriage is essential for a Pakistani to participate fully in society (Country studies). Women gain status when they bear sons. In the absence of a husband, Sons will provide for their mother.
In Pakistani culture, the descent is patrilineal. Male ancestors are considered relatives. There is pressure for patrilineal kin to maintain good relationships with one another. Women are allowed to maintain a degree of relations with their natal families, but this varies among different ethnic groups (Country studies).
Evason, N. (2016). Pakistani culture. https://culturalatlas.sbs.com.au/pakistani-culture/pakistani-culture-family
Mallapragada, M. (2013). Rethinking Desi: Race, class, and online activism of South Asian immigrants in the United States. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476413487225
Salam, R (2014). Negotiating tradition, becoming American Family, gender, and autonomy for second-generation South Asians. LFB Scholary Publishing LLC https://eds-b-ebscohost-com.post.idm.oclc,org/eds/ebookviewer/ebook?sid=c5fbd9eb-25ce-4258-a71e-4287ebe37e4d%40pdc-v-sessmgr03&ppid=p
Sing, M., & Bhayana, R., (2015). Staddling three worlds: Stress, culture, and adaption in South Asian couples. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 37(1), 45-57. Traditional kinship patterns.https://countrystudies.us/pakistan/30.htm
Patel, D. (2017). An exploration into women’s choice and premarital experiences of arranged marriages within a South Asian community in Britain: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. https://doi-org.postu.idm.oclc/10.15123/uel.875×4
second person Ann
I am posting a short video that discusses arranged marriages in India and how there has actually been an evolution of this tradition in recent years- with couples now meeting before and some even being allowed to have a brief courtship before the marriage.

please treat this separately outside source can be used

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