15 August is a special day for the Indian community as we celebrate our freedom from the British Empire.
Today is the 74th year that India gained independence and many from the community will mark the day by dressing up, calling people over, cooking some good food and watching a parade live on TV.
Independence Day feels like every other holiday in my household as we hardly do anything to celebrate. It’s a greater deal when you’re in India as the whole country takes time out of their busy schedule to have a blast.
But in Britain, there isn’t much going on unless you live in an Asian area. Though only few are ready to admit it, there’s a big identity crisis among the South Asian community here in the UK.
British Asians are questioned about their heritage from both the country they were born in and their homeland. Growing up, I had English people telling me I wasn’t English and Indian people telling I wasn’t Indian.
This left me wondering about who I really was and led to countless of hours of research just so I can feel…accepted.
Earlier this month I came across the term South Asian Heritage Month while scrolling through social media and it caught my interest almost immediately.
I never heard about such month before in my life and decided to delve a little deeper to see what it’s all about.
South Asian Heritage Month (SAHM) was launched by the House of Commons back in 2019 to commemorate South Asian history and culture in Great Britain.
It happened between the 18th July and 17th August this year (around the same time the Partition was finalised in 1947) and aims to bring light to the achievements of British Asians around the country.
With the month almost coming to a conclusion, I think it’s important that our communities do more to not only celebrate current figures, but teach the history of last few of generations that have lived here after the Second World War.
Whether your Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or any other type of South Asian, more emphasis needs to be put on who we are.
But not everything should be seen through rose-tinted glasses. The British Asian community has seen many successes, but not without hardship.
We can celebrate the likes of Riz Ahmed and Freddie Mercury, but also learn from the injustice inflicted on the innocent, like Altab Ali in 1978.
Did we cower down and let people trample over us? No. We’ve fought fascism on the beaches of Normandy and later on in the streets of London. Without the likes of the Asian Youth Movement, our generation wouldn’t have the rights and freedoms we have today.
There needs to be a balance of what we teach to future generations. The South Asian community will long prosper in this country as long as we keep celebrating our heritage.
Next year I will fully celebrate this month and teach others about our rich history.
Source of Image: Novara Media