Why are Tamil girls so beautiful

At home in two cultures

From Sabine-Claudia Nold

The Balasandar family is sitting together at the table: 17-year-old Angela and her twelve-year-old brother Tusant were both born in Switzerland and speak fluent Swiss German and Tamil. The parents, father Sivagnanasundaram Balasandar and mother Varatharanjini, met before their flight in Sri Lanka, but only became a married couple in Switzerland. Today both parents work in the Protestant retirement settlement Masans and place great value on the education of their children.

This includes not only the material of the state school, but also the training in the Tamil school. In addition to the regular classes, classes are held in the Tamil school on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. There Tamil, the Tamil language, history, religion and culture is taught. Angela also learned classical Tamil dance up to high school and won numerous trophies at dance competitions. The entire family was naturalized a few months ago. With this step, you have clearly decided in favor of Switzerland and handed in your Sri Lankan passport.

What is home?

But where do the individual members of the Balasander family feel at home? “My home is Switzerland,” Angela explains without hesitation and Tusant nods. "This is where we have our friends, this is where we know our way around," they both agree. They have never felt disadvantaged or excluded - neither at school nor in their free time with colleagues.

Both children have never been to Sri Lanka. "In the family we speak Tamil and of course we tell our children how it used to be in Sri Lanka," report the parents. “Of course I also sang the songs of my childhood with my children,” says mother Varatharangini and smiles.

For parents, the question of where they come from is more difficult to answer than for their children. "Before the war, our life in Sri Lanka was very nice," remembers the father, who like his wife today did not have to flee the country at the age of twenty. “But there is no question about it: Sri Lanka is not an option for our children. Here they can grow up normally and do an apprenticeship. Here is peace, here we can live contentedly. "

All family members feel integrated in Switzerland, be it at work or at school. Angela even got her name from a Swiss person: "When our daughter was born, the head chef at the time, Emilio, said to me:‘ You have to call the girl Angela, ’", says the father, and the whole family laughs.

Everyday life in two cultures

All family members maintain good contacts with Swiss people, but the closer friends are mostly Tamils. Balasandars meet with them in the temple, which invites everyone to pray together every Friday evening. "We all go there together," says the father. "But if the children don't want to come with us, we don't force them."

The red dot that the mother wears between her eyebrows and that indicates the married woman is made up every day in Sri Lanka. As long as a woman is unmarried, the point is black or any other color, so Angela could have a black or yellow point on her forehead. "When I go to the temple, I wear it," she explains, "but not in everyday life." Traditionally, however, there was a festive puberty ceremony for them. "When a girl has her first menstrual period, it is celebrated," explains Angela and shows a large, lovingly designed photo album with the pictures of the party.

Several hundred people invited their parents to the festival: relatives, friends and acquaintances. "I took a ritual bath on the day of the festival itself," explains Angela, in a picture of her sitting in a children's pool in festive clothes. After these rites, which accompany the transition into the adult world, all guests were received in a hall specially rented for this purpose. Although Angela also has numerous friends with Swiss roots, she did not want to invite any to this party. "I don't think she would have been interested." Both are home for Angela - Switzerland with its customs and traditions as well as the traditional customs of her parents.

Many Tamil refugees came to Switzerland around 30 years ago. Many of them have found a new home here and started a family. How did they gain a foothold and integrate? What problems are you facing today? How do your children, who mostly speak fluent Tamil and Swiss German, grow up? A BT series is dedicated to these and similar questions.