By Elaine Omann

People of the cultures of India have influenced and continue to influence the Southside area community — evident in businesses in the area, where families make their homes, attendance in schools, and involvement in community organizations. Contributions of people from India are impacting the workforce, schools, places of worship, and business and professions. Members of the community are recognized in the medical field, computer industry, and businesses which are owned by extended families or individuals.

According to Angie Patel, a mother in the area who owns a business called New Image, the shared values maintained in Indian culture include hard work and support of family and community, with education as a priority. People take care of their cultural community, support others in maintaining a livelihood, and help those who are in need. She explained Indian people will borrow from their family, live together, and continue to work until they can own something themselves.

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Patel said that education is most important in her culture and it is expected that children must do their homework, achieve high grades, and go on to school or college. Local Indian students have been award winners in spelling contests, as well as honor roll recipients, and valedictorians. Some students are now taking a gap year, which she said is unusual from past graduates.

Indian people are fun loving and happy — and often competitive. Families regularly share the evening meal and like many other women, Patel prefers her cooking to that in a restaurant. Her husband also cooks and she jokes that it is one reason she married him.

Food is native to the area in India where they or their family had lived; numerous types of rice and spices are indigenous to specific areas. Various restaurants in the Southside area serve food representative of these different areas in India. For instance, Patel Brothers store on Baymeadows is a well-known business that provides food items for both commercial and home use. The store provides customers with a wide selection of food products, equipment for preparation and serving as well as cultural artifacts. Large quantities and varieties of rice, spices, beans, lentils, tea, and numerous varieties of products are available to meet the diverse cooking needs of customers.

Languages depend on the region lived in India with Hindi being the largest. Religious practices are also diverse: Hindu, Muslim, and Christian are among the most recognized. Organizations such as the Indian Cultural Society or the Hindu Society are important for cultural interactions and the Hindu Temple off Greenland Drive provides a place for meditation and prayer.

Indian people tend to live where other Indian families live. In a neighborhood in Deerwood, seven Indian families live on the same street — yet each speaks a different Indian language, worships differently, and has different food preferences based on a particular region in India.

Indian families integrate into the neighborhoods, community, and city as they continue to honor their culture and influence Southside.

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Photo by Elaine Omann

Angie Patel owns a business called New Image

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