Sydney-based Siana Sangar is a fifth generation Australian who is married into a Punjab family. 20 years of marriage has seen the couple face many challenges including the communication barrier and cultural differences.
Australia is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world.
Mixed marriages in Australia are increasing, as the population overall becomes more culturally diverse. However, there is large variation in the extent of marriages among individuals from different countries of origin.
Cross-cultural marriages are defined as marriages between people who come from two different cultural backgrounds.
Learning a language and a proper communication is important to understand the dynamics of a cross cultural marriage, says Siana Sangar who is married into an Indian-Punjabi family.
Siana was born in Tasmania and now she lives in Sydney with her husband Amandeep Sangar.
Based on her personal experiences, Siana tells SBS Punjabi that the cross-cultural marriage trend is welcomed by many and vocally opposed by some.
“Cross cultural marriage is taboo in some Punjabi families as they express reservations about mixed marriages. But not that it created any hindrance in our marriage,” says Mrs Sangar.
“The best chance of a successful marriage depends on proper communication as it’s potential to help understand different cultural attitudes and beliefs.”
“I always had a focus on learning Punjabi language that helped me better understand the culture and traditions of Punjabi people.”
Siana Sangar likes to be known as an ‘Australian Gori’ (Gori being the Punjabi term for 'white person').
She routinely shares her photos in Punjabi costumes on Instagram under the same name.
“I just love Punjabi suits, I think my life will be dull without those colourful costumes,” says Mrs Sangar.
“It wasn’t that easy to adapt Punjabi culture. My mother is from an English background. She is 5th generation Australian. My father is Irish. He was born in Ireland.”
“My husband Amandeep Sangar is a Punjabi. He is from village in Nawanshehar District of Punjab.”
“We met each other 20 years ago. My husband only knew a little bit of English and I obviously did not know Punjabi.”
“We were just helping each other with language skills.”
“I wanted to learn Punjabi so I could speak properly to my husband’s family.”
Learning Punjabi wasn’t that easy for Siana Sangar. Her husband had hard time teaching her some specific words that had a typical Punjabi accent.
“He took me to his village in Punjab where I’d the opportunity to improve my language skills,” says Mrs Sangar.
“Our marriage had the key element of mutual respect and unconditional love.”
“One thing I would like to say - it is a bit hard for girls like me when we wear Salwar Kameez Punjabi people tend to stare.”
“We feel a bit self-conscious and it makes us feel awkward.” “Please think of us as your sisters and daughters too. A bit of encouragement and smiles can make our world beautiful.”
Amandeep Sangar shared the key to a successful cross cultural marriage.
“Everything is possible if you have love and respect for each other,” says Mr Sangar.
“There is nothing wrong with cross-cultural marriages. But it is a taboo in our society."
"The caste system is still alive and kicking in the Indian society, which needs to be stopped at all costs.”
“The marriage unions can play a big role to bring much needed change. 'Love' should be the binding force. We should accept marriages that have inter-racial, inter-religious, intercultural or any other connections.”
Siana Sangar encouraged Punjabi children to participate in SBS National Language Competition.
“If a typical Australian girl like me can lean Punjabi, anyone can. I encourage everyone to enter in this exciting competition,” says Mrs Sangar.
“I would also like to thank SBS Punjabi for this opportunity to speak about my experiences and obstacles that I’d while learning Punjabi.”
“Sat Shiri Akal and Namaste.”
Marry Me, Marry My Family is the familiar story of multicultural Australians, as they are today - trying to embrace their Australian identity, whilst staying true to their culture, identity and family. It's a heart-warming update on how multiculturalism is working in Australia and a colourful account of the country that we are evolving into.
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