The sweet calming smells of incense burning, the food stalls on the side of the street and the many stores that display beautiful colourful saris and kurtas are all signs that you have stepped into little India town. It is a great place to get some comfort food and have a nice date night with your partner. Except you may have to watch what you say or who you touch!
Public display of affection (PDA) in the Indian community is just a big no no. Holding hands, giving your partner a kiss and even long hugs aren’t generally considered acceptable behaviour. Especially in front of the older generation. In addition, expressing intimacy through words is also not something that happens in public. For example, telling you partner you love him in front of a group of older Indian friends and family may just cause many to feel uncomfortable.
So why is loving someone kept behind closed doors? One big reason is that Indian community’s place honour of the family as top priority. Showing affection seems to break that honour and though things are slowly changing, a simple gesture like holding hands can break the family’s honour.
The repercussions of this however is that many people who are in love cannot share their love openly and suddenly begin to feel shame or guilt if they express it. It is imperative that we acknowledge that carrying shame or guilt can be more detrimental than trying to keep honour. Things have to change. I for one love to hold my husband’s hand and give him cuddles whenever I feel like it. Sure, others may feel uncomfortable initially, but with more people showing affection and their love for one another, the greater the chance for PDA becoming normalized in the Indian community.
Isn’t it time we got rid of the shame and start to embrace love?! I think so.