South Asian Heritage Month: Humaira Khan
South Asian Heritage Month is a much welcome and needed initiative and event for those of us who origins lie within South Asia.
It seeks to raise awareness around the rich and colourful heritage, cultures, traditions and indeed challenges that exist within those of South Asian origin. Moreover, a month such as this, allows us to share our experiences and stories to our fellow SA and non-SA colleagues and peers.
As someone who was born and raised in the UK and a child of immigrant parents who lived through partition, I often reflect on what my heritage means to me and how it has moulded me into the person I am today. I have noticed that people like myself, often oscillate between dual identities, inheriting the rich culture, language and traditions of our parents and ancestors. From the aromatic foods to the vibrancy of clothes, to the complex but sometimes forgotten history, we hold on to that sense of belonging our background brings.
My parents share an equally rich ancestry- born in Jalandhar (India) to Pathan parents, they found themselves in Lahore (Pakistan) following partition in 1947. The Pathans of Jalandhar are an ethnic group that lived in colonies called ‘bastis’ in India - they had complex roots, where they migrated from across the depths of Central Asia to Jalandhar and then to Pakistan following partition. The journey from Jalandhar to Lahore was by no means a smooth one and enroute they lost family, friends and their homes. My uncle was 14 during partition and vividly remembers the journey and the challenges it brought- I am forever grateful that he shared these stories with us, the younger generation, through his memoirs and interviews, as I often think that they would have been lost if they weren’t spoken about. I often wondered why some of our family’s’ traditions, dialects and food were different to other Indians and Pakistanis and came to realise that Pakistanis are so beautifully and intricately diverse. They are not a homogenous population but an amalgamation of different cultures and traditions. My British Asian heritage just seems to add another dimension to an already diverse and rich legacy.
This year marks 75 years since my parents migrated from India to Pakistan following partition- I will forever cherish the voices of the past, their resilience, and the deeply positive impact their sacrifices have had on me. Their past is something I will hold onto dearly, as I feel, I will never know my destination until I reconcile my past.
My uncles’ interview can be found here: Day 22 of ’75 Days of Partition’- The Pathans of Jalandhar and Ludhiana’, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vMS6nfVYWU.