Rupi Kaur’s Poems About Culture & Heritage in South Asia

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Sun and Her Flowers" by Rupi Kaur. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are some of the best poems about culture and heritage? What is poet Rupi Kaur’s perspective on her South Asian heritage?

Rupi Kaur is a poet and visual artist who emigrated to Canada from India as a young girl. Kaur’s poems offer insight into her cultural background, including why she criticizes certain aspects of her Indian heritage.

Keep reading for a look at Kaur’s poems about culture and heritage in South Asia.

Kaur’s Heritage & Culture: Poems About India

Rupi Kaur talks about finding a new sense of belonging through her poems about culture and heritage, which focus on Kaur’s family and background. In the “Rooting” section of her book of poems, The Sun and Her Flowers, Kaur shows newfound appreciation for her Indian heritage and her family’s experience emigrating from India to Canada. While she appreciates many aspects of her cultural background, Kaur also criticizes certain aspects of South Asian culture as misogynistic.

Kaur’s Criticism of Her Cultural Background

While Kaur finds a new appreciation for her background, she also recognizes some negative aspects of her heritage and culture. Through her poems about culture and heritage in The Sun and Her Flowers, she explains how some elements of South Asian culture are misogynistic and how this misogyny informs the lives of South Asian girls and women. She often connects this back to the experiences of her mother—Kaur describes how her mother was taught to be submissive and obedient to the men in her life, and how she, in turn, helped teach Kaur those same lessons herself. 

(Shortform note: Rosjke Hasseldine (The Mother-Daughter Puzzle) further discusses the complicated relationship between misogyny and mother-daughter relationships. She warns that women shouldn’t place too much blame on their mothers for teaching or enforcing misogynistic views—while they aren’t entirely innocent, they are themselves victims of the same beliefs. Instead, Hasseldine suggests that mothers and daughters approach their relationship as equals in similar circumstances. This dynamic allows them to empathize with each other and challenge misogynistic beliefs together instead of resenting each other or getting defensive.)   

In addition, Kaur’s poems about culture and heritage address the subject of female infanticide in Indian communities. She describes how, for centuries, families would kill their baby girls because they saw them as a burden on the family and valued boys more highly. Kaur also shows how this practice continues today both in India and in South Asian immigrant communities like the one she grew up in. This practice, Kaur expresses, shows how misogyny devalues and even ends the lives of women and girls.

(Shortform note: While Kaur suggests violence against women results in female infanticide, some scholars suggest that female infanticide also causes further instability and violence—both against women with increased rates of rape or kidnapping; and in general, with increased rates of murder and violent crime. Anthropological research argues that India’s skewed sex ratio—currently 108.1 males per 100 females—creates a surplus of men (often lower-class men from rural areas where female infanticide is more common) who are unable to find wives or create families. These men are more likely to join violent gangs or militias for respect or financial stability.)

Rupi Kaur’s Poems About Culture & Heritage in South Asia

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Rupi Kaur's "The Sun and Her Flowers" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Sun and Her Flowers summary:

  • Explanations and context to better understand Rupi Kaur's poems
  • A look into the recurring themes of Kaur's poetry
  • What Kaur's poetry can teach us about society and ourselves

Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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