Boozy Punjabi weddings are now a British problem
Punjabis in Britain have been ticked off for serving too much alcohol at their weddings - a practice that is not only threatening lives but also putting pressure on families to dish out the drink.india Updated: Dec 11, 2009 20:32 IST
Punjabis in Britain have been ticked off for serving too much alcohol at their weddings - a practice that is not only threatening lives but also putting pressure on families to dish out the drink.
A British charity serving a West London suburb with a large population of Punjabis says the practice has become so widespread that many families of brides complain that the groom's side pressurises them to serve alcohol when they don't want to.
The Southall-based Drug and Alcohol Programme (DAAP) says it is now willing to "name and shame" families that exert such pressure, pointing out ethnic Indians - especially Sikhs - in Britain are particularly vulnerable to alcohol-related deaths.
It is teaming up with local gurdwaras to address what it says is a growing problem in Britain.
"There is huge pressure on families to provide alcohol at weddings - the boy's side usually makes the demand. We have a whole dossier of evidence," said DAAP's chief executive officer Perminder Dhillon.
"This problem is extensive now, and it is akin to demanding dowry. We end up supporting users with alcohol-related health problems during the binge-drinking period," she added in a warning ahead of the festive season in Britain.
She quoted research published in the British Medical Journal as saying men of South Asian origin in Britain are four times more likely to die of alcohol-related liver problems than other ethnic groups. And eighty percent of those South Asians who are vulnerable to alcohol-related mortality are Sikhs, she said.
Dhillon, an award-winning charity worker, said it was wrong to think that Asians did not binge-drink because of their religion or culture.
"Many parents feel pressurised to provide a huge quantity of alcohol at weddings even if they themselves are non-drinkers. It is seen as cool, fashionable, a sign of being modern and certainly a yardstick to measure the amount of wealth been lavished at the wedding," she said.
"Our message is simple - name and shame those who do this. We will not be afraid to put these examples up on our website and condemn them. As a community, we really have to take our collective heads out of the sand and acknowledge that there is a problem with excessive drinking."
Dhillon said the charity was not against "sensible drinking" but added that many guests at weddings tended to mix their drinks, which meant that "safe levels are exceeded very quickly."
The DAAP and local gurdwaras will organise a day of action in January 2010 in Southall.
According to an editorial published in the prestigious British Medical Journal in October, alcohol-use among South Asians in Britain is "under-recognised, and alcohol related harm is disproportionately high."
It said alcohol-related deaths are particularly high among Irish and Scottish people, as well as Indian men.
"Ethnic minorities make up almost eight percent of the population in the United Kingdom, yet their contribution to the cost of alcohol related harm, estimated at £20bn ($32bn) a year, is not widely known. This has led to public health policies based on incorrect assumptions," the BMJ said.