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Updated: August 22, 2013 01:04 IST

Keeping traditions alive despite dwindling numbers

Susmitha Biswas
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Anglo-Indians Glen and Valencia Austin getting ready for Christmas in Bangalore. — File Photo: K. Gopinathan.
The Hindu Anglo-Indians Glen and Valencia Austin getting ready for Christmas in Bangalore. — File Photo: K. Gopinathan.

Strong bonds help Anglo-Indian community weather winds of change`

If you want the best homemade wine, you know who to go to. In fact, the same person will also bake the most appetising cake in a jiffy. But, you have to be lucky to have an Anglo-Indian friend who is willing to share her/his mother’s goodies with you.

A small community whose numbers today are dwindling, the Anglo-Indians of Bangalore have kept their heritage alive though their traditions, language and even attire. “While a small fraction of the community has merged with Bangalore’s cosmopolitan lifestyle , a lot of us still practice the old ways,” says Bernadette d’ Souza (48), who teaches at the St. Francis Girls’ High School.

She rues that the number of Anglo-Indians in the city is on the decline. “About 30 years ago, the Whitefield area was full of bungalows occupied by Anglo-Indians, but with time many sold their bungalows and the others just faded away,” she reminisces. Amith Nigli, Director, Nigli’s Pre-School attributed the community’s declining numbers to emigration abroad and inter-religion marriages.

“Most people in the community have roots in other countries and very often our youth get opportunities to go abroad for work or their studies, in particular Australia. Then, the elders get left behind here,” observes Mr. Nigli.

The Anglo-Indian youth, who have grown up on homemade cakes for every birthday, Christmas and New Year, find that despite their small numbers, the community is still well-connected.

“When we go for dances and Christmas parties that are mostly held at Frank Anthony’s School, it is great to meet friends we have grown up with. It is amazing that our tradition goes on and I truly believe it will never change,” says Sheldon. Ditto are Faustine Lawrence’s thoughts about her community. “While I’m certainly not clannish , it is always nice when I find someone from the community in my school or college,” says the 19-year-old Christ University student.

Mrs Bernadette also observes that the stereotypical image of the Anglo-Indian woman as teachers has undergone a drastic change over the years with many of the women changing their career paths for a higher salary and a better lifestyle. “In my school, there are just about five Anglo-Indian teachers today ” she says.

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