Through discussing and sharing education, arts, culture and commemoration, the goal of the month is helping people to better understand the diversity of present-day Britain and improve social cohesion across the country.
Making is debut during its inaugural year in 2020, South Asian Heritage Month is about reclaiming the history and identity of British South Asians. People need to be able to tell their own stories, and this is an opportunity to show what it means to be South Asian in the 21st century, as well as look to the past to see how Britain became the diverse country it is today.
South Asian influences can be found everywhere in Britain, from our food and clothes to our music and even our words. The streets of our towns and cities are rich with the colours, sights and sounds of proud South Asian identity. Its culture permeates all parts of British life and adds to the diversity of the nation.
Some of our Bauer People from South Asia have shared their thoughts on the month…
Alpa Shah – Head of Treasury and Banking Compliance
“South Asian Heritage Month means different things to people from each of the eight south Asian countries included (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) as their culture and relationship with the British Empire varies. For me, an opportunity to celebrate being Asian and to be proud of the influences my heritage has brought to the UK from food, music, clothes and communities coming together to celebrate festivals is a good enough reason to celebrate this month.
Growing up, I would often shy away from talking about my culture, the Indian clothes we wore to weddings and other social functions as I always wanted to fit in with the lifestyle that my school and work friends were leading. It is only recently that I feel I have been able to open up about this “secret” part of my life and felt much more happier within and actually quite proud to be different. It has its benefits too as I always tell my children that we get the best of both worlds with double the number of celebrations – celebrating all the Hindu and Christian festivals. Being more open about my life has really highlighted the importance of understanding and celebrating what makes us different and also what makes us so similar. As a result, I ensure I always make time to read or listen to different peoples viewpoint, their life experiences so that I can obtain someone else’s perspective on life. This education is so important and allows us to understand one another better.
Our uniqueness makes us interesting, something that we should be proud off and so worth celebrating. So enjoy South Asian Heritage Month whatever you decide to do, suggestions include read an article, book or listen to a podcast to educate yourself or alternatively, try some south Asian food or attend a celebration. Enlighten yourself and appreciate the uniqueness in everyone in your life!
Anu Short – Head of Magazine Brands
South Asian Heritage Month is a new cultural date, launched in 2020, what does it mean to you to have this date acknowledged?
Having South Asian Heritage Month is something I wish had been around when I was growing up. Growing up in the 80’s there were so many cultural differences at home compared to my friends, but also such a lack of understanding on both sides that you couldn’t help but feel different. Fortunately, I was encouraged to take in Indian food to school to show my friends what we have at home, wear my national dress on non-uniform days, talk about our religious festivals in class and when my non-Indian friends were invited for play dates my mum would proudly speak to me in Punjabi and offer them home cooked food.
But in my teens came the biggest conflict, beyond what you can see… the food, the festivals, and the clothing... I was torn between wanting to please my parents and be the good Indian girl representing their values, but also wanted to fit in with my all my mates, who were predominantly English. From what I wore, to how I cut my hair, the no boyfriends, not being allowed to go out, not knowing if you would have to have an arranged marriage or not became the new cultural differences.
I hope that South Asian Heritage Month helps Asians to be proud of these cultural differences talk about them, celebrate how far they have come and celebrate their achievements. For our non-Asian friends, I hope you really get an insight into the why certain traditions exist, not just the what you can see when we celebrate.
What are you most proud of about your South Asian Heritage?
Now 30 years on, I am proud to have been brought up with the best of both worlds, especially the traditions around celebrations which I encourage my children to observe as well. 2 of my favourites include Raksha Bandhan.. a day that celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters (coming up in August) and India’s Independence Day. Growing up as a child we would hold big community celebrations in our local temple with dancing, singing, lots of food and sketches about Indian culture.
I am also incredibly proud of my parents! First generation Indians that came to live here in the 60’s, with £3 in their pockets. Working night shifts, studying by day and sending money home to their families back in India. They’ve worked immensely hard and brought me and my 2 sisters up in a western world that was so alien to them, giving us the best that they could of two cultures.
I also love the fact I can speak different languages. My gran despite living in the UK for 30years refused to speak a word of English until the day she died! This encouraged us to learn fluent Punjabi. Also, every Friday night growing up was spent watching Bollywood films which helped me pick up Hindi as another language. And don’t even get me started on my mum’s Indian cooking and bhangra dancing.
What would you like people to know about South Asian Heritage?
Particularly with Indians, there’s more to us than just a great curry! If you haven’t had the chance to do so visit a temple, try on a sari, or even indulge yourself with a Bollywood Film… we have one of the biggest film industries in the world. Look into our history and learn about what happened during the partition. Above all speak to your Asian friends and ask them what they most like about their culture.