South Asian Heritage Month 2023 – Stories to tell


What is South Asian Heritage Month?

South Asian Heritage month was established to appreciate and celebrate South Asian history and culture. It is a chance for everyone to honour the countries in South Asia and learn new things about their heritage. This is a popular celebrated month in the UK as South Asians make up nearly 10% of the UK population.

South Asian culture can be found all around Britain, from clothes, food, music and even words. The streets are flooded with the colours, views and sounds of proud South Asian identity. Its culture is a part of British life and adds to the diversity of the nation.

When is it?

South Asian Heritage Month runs every year from 18th July – 17th August, ending on the anniversary of the Indian and Pakistan Partition. The month was created in 2019 and has been celebrated all around the UK since.

The 8 countries that makeup South Asia are Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan.

British India was a reign of Asia that included the current day countries Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Afghanistan, Bhutan and Nepal’s foreign policy were controlled by Britain, but they were not a part of British India. The Maldives and Sri Lanka were British colonies at the same time as British India.

This year’s theme is ‘Stories to Tell’

This year’s theme gives everyone an opportunity to praise, appreciate and celebrate those with stories that make up the impressive, breathtaking community.
There is a range of different ways one can share their stories about their South Asian heritage. This could be through food, art, music, storytelling or creative writing, drama, or social media.

Stories from people of South Asian Heritage

Here is Santi’s story:

Santi and her parents were born in Malaysia. Her dad is of Indian heritage, and her mum is of Chinese heritage. Her mum’s grandparents relocated to Malaysia from the Fujian region whilst her dad’s grandparents resettled to Malaysia from South India. Santi’s parents met at a dance party. Santi moved to the Netherlands after she graduated from university and lived there for ten years. She then moved to Washington DC to volunteer at the World Environment Centre, and finally to the UK to study film editing.

Santi and her sisters are multilingual. They all speak Chinese to their mum, and English to their Dad. Santi’s Dad was an English lecturer. He’s now retired. In school, they spoke Bahasa Malaysia. Santi’s mother told her that when she was younger, she was quite fluent in Tamil. Unfortunately, Santi does not speak it now, however, she does speak Dutch and is currently learning Korean. Her older sister recently moved back from the USA to Malaysia for her work and her younger sister lives in Tokyo.

They are quite a modern family. Because of her Indian, Chinese and Malaysian roots, they celebrate lots of festivities – Diwali, Chinese New Year and Christmas. As life goes on Santi is still trying to find out the meaning of all the festivals, besides eating lots of amazing diverse food from around the world and buying new clothes.

Santi’s South Asian heritage means a lot to her. It makes Santi want to know about her dad’s ancestors and what they were like. Sadly, it’s close to impossible to trace them prior to migration to Malaysia. Her mum’s family was a lot easier to trace back in China because of her family name. Santi is happy to have such a diverse heritage. It allows her to explore history, language, food and culture.

Here is Naina Sethi’s story:

Naina is a presenter, DJ, Broadcaster and owner of the record label Hoover Sound.

Naina grew up with an older sister who took a heavier academic route so her parents were more lenient with their decisions on what Naina wanted to do. She had complete freedom with what she wanted to do with her life. Her parents have always supported her. She has always told Naina to follow her dreams because life is too short.

Naina has been a minority within creative spaces for a while now. She stated that you get used to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay and should be accepted as the norm. When Naina started at Reprezent she was pleased to see other ethnic minorities in the same space.
There are certain instances where Naina has felt like she is there to tick a diversity box. When really, she is actually talented at what she does.

In her interview with Dazed, Naina stated, “If I don’t use my presence and the platforms to bring through new Asian creatives then what kind of example am I leaving for the next gen? We didn’t have enough of that when I was entering the industry – I want the next gen to see examples of Brown people killing it in this scene and have real role models. I have recently experienced other Brown creatives in the scene, coming up to me at a club or a rave and telling me how this recent shift has made them feel proud of their heritage. On the one hand, this is powerful and amazing, but it also shows the root issue that has long existed in the industry.”

If you have a story to share, please do not hesitate to contact the DEI team.
We would love to hear from you! 

Want to find out more?

South Asian Musicians from the UK

History of the British Asian sound music


The Garden Cinema based in West London has added an array of screenings to dedicate their support and interest to South Asian heritage month this year. The films chosen include suggestions by our members and local residents, alongside partnership events with curator Anupma Shanker, SUPAKINO and London Bengali Film Festival. They will explore a range of themes, from identity and community to gender, faith, and family, with a special focus on music, dance and drama. The Garden Cinema Film Trailer Mashup


Since this year’s theme is ‘Stories to Tell,’ below are a few recommended books (with links to purchase) that celebrate South Asian culture.

I belong here by Anita Sethi
Partition Voices by Kavita Puri
Stories for South Asian Supergirl’s by Raj Kaur Khaira
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
Bamba Beach by Pratima Mitchell


Poetry workshop: Identity & South Asian Women on Saturday 22nd July at 2pm
Want to learn to write poetry? Our next SASS event is a poetry & writing workshop with Manjot Dhaliwal exploring themes on identity.

Newham South Asian Heritage Month with the Kahaani Film Club  on Saturday 29th July at 1:30pm
3 short films Fruit Chaat, Wheels and Incredible Insight: The Story of his Ability. Discussions and free drinks & snack at the event. 

The Story of Bengal on Saturday 5th August at 2pm
During South Asian Heritage Month, explore British-Bangladeshi history, heritage, culture and identity through story-telling.

The Offbeat Sari: Talk about the exhibition + a visit to the Design Museum on Monday 7th August at 1pm
Come along to this TALK+WALK event at Kensington Library, visit the world-famous Design Museum and enjoy some fabulous saris!

Celebrating South Asian Heritage Month at NatWest on Wednesday 9th August at 3pm
Under this year’s theme of Stories to Tell, NatWest Business will be hosting an event celebrating inspirational stories from South Asia.

South Asian Heritage Month screening: Polite society + Q&A  on Thursday 17th August at 7pm
Ria Khan, a teenager with a dream of becoming a stuntwoman, believes she must save her older sister Lena from her impending marriage.

For more information, please contact Helen:
Helen Choudhury LLM
Head of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion
Champion of Menopause
Mental Health First Aider
[email protected]



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