Why we need to rediscover the innocence and art of Asian weddings from the 80s

12th May 2018   •   opinion
by Guest Contributor
Twitter @barfi_culture.
Credit: Dawinder Bansal
Dawinder Bansal

During the 1980s, Asian weddings were simple, no-frills affairs where people mattered more than objects. We didn’t have much, but we made do with what we had and were creative with our talents.

The wider community also played a large role, with uncles, aunties and neighbours helping with preparations.

BBC presenter Talat-Farooq Awan told me that at one family wedding he was a waiter, hall decorator and even the family photographer!

Why was I so interested in Asian weddings in the 80s?

I wanted to create an ambitious and exciting art installation for the National Festival of Making 2018.

My project - 'The Making Of A South Asian Wedding' - would be more than just a static piece of art. I wanted it to be a tapestry of art and cultural traditions and making things in preparation for Asian weddings. Especially weddings in the 1980s era.

The project was born from my own experiences as a young girl, growing up in the 1980s. I remember when my oldest brother got married (he is 20 years older), our house was full of aunts, uncles and cousins for weeks before the big day. We made hundreds of ladoos and samosas.

Clothing was cut and sewn at home and sometimes embroidered too.

I wanted to take people back in time when we came together as a community to make things.

Once I’d explained my idea to many Asians in Blackburn, people were thrilled! Those who lived through the 80s overflowed with such fond memories.

They invited me into their homes, family weddings and other special occasions in preparation for my new art installation and film. They shared intimate parts of their lives with me.

I attended weddings of strangers from different faiths and backgrounds than my own. I also met an amazingly talented group of women at a local refuge and some sprightly elderly Pakistani and Gujrati Muslim women from 'The Curry Club' at Bangor Street Community Centre.

I also met an incredible amount of home artisans - who do their craft behind closed doors and want no publicity or recognition.

My project isn't just about how we used to make weddings, but also how we were as a community.

It is a project not about being Hindu, Muslim or Sikh faith – it is about what binds us together through our traditions of culture and art.

These are some of the pictures people shared with me

The Making of a South Asian Wedding will be at the National Festival of Making at Blackburn Market: May 12th and 13th.
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