10 Ways To Honor South Asian Heritage Month In 2023
South Asian Heritage Month was officially named in 2020 to celebrate the culture and contributions of South Asian countries and their peoples. During this month, many honor the people and countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and the Maldives. This month can play an important role in the validation and experience of many and preserves the rich history and voices of millions of people around the world.
Read on to learn the different ways that you can honor South Asian Heritage Month in 2023.
Why Celebrate South Asian Heritage Month?
South Asian Heritage Month recognizes the diverse cultures and experiences of individuals from the countries of South Asia. At BetterHelp, we also take the opportunity emphasize the value of mental health awareness and support in every community, including those within the South Asian realm. Mental health challenges can affect people of every community, so it can be helpful to reflect on how we can support mental health and awareness in individual South Asian communities. This can vary by culture and preference and may look like facilitating discussions with friends and family, researching organizations that advocate for mental health awareness or considering how we each might benefit from mental health treatment in our own lives.
With that in mind, here are ten options you can use as inspiration for celebrating South Asian Heritage Month this year.
1. Learn About The Diverse Cultures Of South Asia
One of the most important things to remember during this year's South Asian Heritage Month is that South Asia is a diverse region of many countries and communities, all of which have their traditions, religions, customs, cultures, languages and more. To thoughtfully celebrate South Asian Heritage Month, consider educating yourself on these countries' vast and diverse areas and peoples.
South Asian territories can include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and the Maldives. You may choose to learn about and celebrate the region's history and how these countries differ geographically, socially, politically, customarily, and otherwise.
2. Explore Contributions Of South Asian Individuals
Many forgotten or overlooked individuals from countries in South Asia have contributed to the worlds of art, science, medicine, politics, and social change. There are also South Asian individuals who are under-celebrated for their contributions in the present day. South Asian Heritage Month is the perfect time to begin your education on the contributions of these individuals and continue that learning throughout the year, elevating, and amplifying their support and progress to the betterment of society across industries.
You can explore the contributions of South Asian individuals by reading, watching, or listening to relevant content. Additionally, you can use that new knowledge with other practices of honor, such as raising awareness of a specific individual or event on social media, discussing it with friends or reading a book about them.
3. Spread The Word About South Asian Heritage Month
South Asian Heritage Month can be underrepresented in mainstream media. To combat the lack of awareness around South Asian Heritage Month, you can spread the word with friends, family and coworkers about the existence of the month and ways to celebrate it.
You can also spread the word online. You may choose to use a hashtag like #SouthAsianHeritageMonth2023 or #SouthAsianHeritage to remind your friends and followers that this month is a time to honor and celebrate South Asia and people of South Asian heritage and connect with others who are celebrating alongside you.
4. Learn About An Issue Affecting A Country In South Asia
There are many issues plaguing countries worldwide, and the regions in South Asia are no different. Research a crisis affecting a country or area in South Asia and how you can help. For example, you may choose to read up on the environmental issues affecting Bhutan, including habitat loss, human-wildlife conflicts, and climate change. As you research, consider your research material and the possible benefit you may gain from researching from unbiased, verified, and comprehensive sources.
After learning about an issue or multiple crises, you may take the time to make the next step or develop an action plan for yourself. You might find a local organization to volunteer with, a place to donate, or another way to act against the issue. All contributions can be helpful and can be used to impact the world at scale.
5. Donate To A South Asian-Specific Cause
Going along with educating yourself about a crisis in South Asia, donating money or time is a practical way to celebrate this month. If you're in a place to donate money, you may choose to donate to a specific cause that affects a community in South Asia.
Like other ways of honoring South Asian Heritage Month, donations don't have to stop at the end of the month. One of the best ways to celebrate and honor these specific populations is to continue your education and efforts throughout the year.
Many organizations have the option to set up monthly donations, letting you automatically donate each month or every several months. To do this effectively, you may choose to find a group run by representatives of a South Asian community devoted to directly helping the cause of your choice. You may choose to encourage your friends to do the same.
6. Buy From A South Asian-Owned Business
Wherever you live, your area may have restaurants, shops, services and other businesses owned and run by people of South Asian heritage community. You may choose to search online or ask around for your friends' favorite restaurants serving cuisines from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, or the Maldives. Or, you may choose to find a local boutique selling free-trade items from a South Asian country that donates a percentage of profits back to people in the country of origin.
While supporting South Asian-owned businesses, you can also learn more about your community and its diversity.
7. Read Content From An Author From South Asia
Whether you're a book lover, read articles regularly, or haven't touched a piece of literature in years, reading content is a great way to simultaneously educate yourself and celebrate this month.
Don't feel as if you must limit yourself to non-fiction content. Suggestions on reading content from cultures other than our own often serve only non-fiction content, but that excludes the vast library of exciting works of fiction from South Asian authors. This can include articles, short stories, novels, essays and more.
8. Watch A Movie Directed By And/Or Starring South Asian Individuals
Movies and TV can offer more than just a fun respite after the workday. Spending time this month watching media from South Asian creators is a great way to celebrate South Asian heritage in an accessible, entertaining option.
To do this, you may choose to turn to a classic or a newer movie. Consider finding a TV show directed by or starring a South Asian lead. It can be anything from a documentary to a thriller to a comedy special. You can even arrange a movie night with friends to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month and gather a group to enjoy the movie together.
9. Learn About The Experiences Of South Asian Members Of Your Community
South Asian Heritage Month celebrates not just the countries and people of South Asia but people in America and other countries who have South Asian heritage. That means that your celebration this month may include your community, wherever you live.
People from South Asian countries live worldwide, including in the United States. Additionally, the people from South Asia in your community may deal with issues you're not aware of, such as racism, discrimination, wealth gaps and more. You may choose to connect with representatives of the culture and explore what those issues look like for South Asian members of your community. This can help you to learn how you can most effectively help counteract these struggles through volunteer work, financial donations, outreach, awareness, or another tool.
10. Boost The Voices Of South Asian Creators
Raising awareness for South Asian Heritage Month can also include amplifying the voices of South Asian creators on social media. Many believe that this population lives in a time of universal connection and communication through the internet and social media apps. You can utilize those resources and your own social media presence to boost South Asian voices, whether they are content creators, educators, local businesses, or artists.
Do you follow creators of South Asian descent or accounts devoted to educating followers on a country or issue in South Asia? If so, you may choose to find a post that resonates with you to amplify. If not, you may look around to find an account matching that description and use your voice to magnify theirs.
How Can Online Therapy Help This South Asian Heritage Month?
South Asians and South Asian Americans may experience unique challenges and psychological stressors that may be actively affecting mental health experiences across the culture(s). However, there are various treatment options found to be successful against mental health challenges. Online therapy is equally as effective as in-person therapy for people of all cultures.
South Asian Heritage Month can be an important time to many as we celebrate and amplify different elements of South Asian culture. Educating yourself on critical issues and elements of culture can help to build a more empathetic and inclusive society on a larger scale. Encouraging others to celebrate this month can also amplify that effect. Online therapy can be helpful to people of all cultures, offering critical support services across any spectrum of need. BetterHelp can connect you with licensed online therapists.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Countries Are Considered To Be Part Of South Asia?
South Asia includes India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, and the Maldives. Around 1.94 billion people live in South Asia, making it the world's most populated area.
Why Is South Asian Heritage Month Important?
South Asian Heritage Month is an important time for celebrating the diverse cultures of the region, bringing awareness to be social and other issues affecting countries in South Asia, and honoring the contributions of South Asian individuals.
Why Is It Important To Recognize The Variety Of Culture And Practices Within South Asia?
South Asia is not a homogenous region and should not be considered a single, identical area. It consists of 8 countries, each of which has diverse cultures, customs, languages, art, religion, and more. Because of that, it's important to honor and value each culture as a unique and separate part, rather than a singular whole, to give all cultures the recognition they deserve.