Going for a Balti is as common as going for fish and chips in Birmingham. Balti is actually a dish very similar to a wok in which a Balti curry is made and served. Originally, and from a Birmingham perspective, it comes from the Sparkhill and Sparkbrook Asian community but is now found all over the West Midlands and is very popular as are the many Asian restaurants.
The make up of the Asian community as a percentage of population is Pakistani 66,085 (6.9%), Indian 51,075 (5.3%) and Bangladeshi 12,739 (1.3%).
From around the 1960's large numbers of immigrants started to arrive in the UK from Asia. Typically single men seeking work and later bringing their families across once they had established themselves. Many became shopkeepers and traders and this is very apparent today. Whilst travelling through Birmingham you cannot help but notice the Asian shops with their distinctive clothing, cuisine and products on display. Generally hard working and living predominantly in the Sparkhill, Sparkbrook and Handsworth areas of the city, the Halal meat signs, mosques and temples have had a profound effect on the city of Birmingham.
Often accused of not integrating fully with the white community and having the language barriers associated with residing in a foreign country the Asian community has strived to achieve acceptance without losing their cultural and social values. Asian parents look to the younger generation to achieve academic excellence and aspire to their children becoming Doctors, businessmen, lawyers or achieving positions of status.
A progressive religion well ahead of its time when it was founded over 500 years ago, The Sikh religion today has a following of over 20 million people worldwide and is ranked as the worlds 5th largest religion. Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its 10 Gurus enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Statistically, there are over 700 million Hindus, mainly in Bharat (India), and Nepal. Hinduism is referred to as Sanatana Dharma, the eternal faith. Hinduism is not strictly a religion. It is based on the practice of Dharma, the code of life. Since Hinduism has no founder, anyone who practices Dharma can call himself a Hindu. He can question the authority of any scripture, or even the existence of the Divine. The following article is based on my limited understanding.
While religion means to bind, Dharma means to hold. What man holds on to is his inner law, which leads from ignorance to Truth. Though reading of the scriptures (shastras) would not directly lead you to self-realization, the teachings of the seers provide a basis and a path for spirituality. Despite being the oldest religion, the truth realized by the seers prove that the Truth and path provided by Hinduism is beyond time.
With recent terrorist events and publicity Islam has had a bad time. However, there are fanatics in any religion and Islam is a peaceful religion which is tolerant, law abiding and clear in its path. The following words explain......
With Islam God completed the religion He revealed and chose for mankind. Literally, Islam means ‘submission, peace and salvation’. In its most essential or fundamental aspect, Islam is epitomized in the most frequently recited of all Quranic phrases, the Basmala — In the name of God, the Merciful (al-Rahman), the Compassionate (al-Rahim). Both words are related to the quality of rahma, meaning mercy and compassion. God manifests Himself essentially through His absolute, all-inclusive Mercy and Compassion, and Islam is founded upon that affirmation. The mission of the Prophet Muhammad, with whom God sent Islam to mankind, is called in the Quran "a mercy for all the worlds", for the whole of creation.