Every year, South Asian Heritage Month is celebrated between 18th July to 17th August. This month brings together a diverse and rich set of cultures - highlighting their history, traditions, and contributions to our world.
From the chaiwallahs (tea vendors) lining the streets of India to the staple, daily cup of Sheer Chai (Milk Tea) in Afghanistan, spiced tea is treasured across South Asia. That's why this month is extra special to us as a Masala Chai (spiced Indian tea) company. ChaiBag's blends are all personally curated by the founder, Priyanka Aggarwal - inspired by Indian recipes and practices handed down through generations. ChaiBag takes pride in sharing a part of South Asian cultures by providing an authentic Masala Chai experience for everyone!
In this blog, we'll take you through a short history on South Asian Heritage Month and what it means to us here at ChaiBag!
History of South Asian Heritage Month
The First Celebrations of South Asian Heritage
The South Asian Heritage Month has roots in the Asian and Caribbean communities of Canada. The very first communal celebration of South Asian heritage dates back to 1988, when The Ontario Society for Services to the Indo-Caribbean Community (OSSICC) was formed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Indians arriving to Guyana (a part of the Caribbean). The OSSICC was among the first, historic organizations to create a space for immigrants of South Asian descent - in this case, Indians - and celebrate their history and contributions. This was not a month long celebration, but an Indo-Caribbean Heritage Day.
From then on, other organizations like the Indo-Trinidadian Canadian Association (ITCA) celebrated similar Heritage days - but it wasn't until the formation of the Council for Indian Arrival and Heritage Month that the celebration became month-long. Early 2000s onwards, this council expanded and welcomed everyone from not just the South Asian community, but also the Asian community. This month is now better known as Asian Heritage Month, encompassing a range of diverse cultures - from Japanese, Chinese, Indian, to Pakistani.
The First Official South Asian Heritage Month Celebration
While the roots of the Heritage month lie in the Indo-Caribbean communities of Canada, it was in 2019 that South Asian Heritage Month as we know it was officiated. Presented in the House of Commons, the month aimed to celebrate and highlight South Asians and raise awareness about their rich history and their achievements. This included people from eight countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, and Sri Lanka.
Why Does it Begin on 18th July?
The dates that this month begins and ends are slightly uncommon - it isn't your usual calendar month. However, this window of time spans historic events for South Asian Heritage.
18th July was when the Indian Independence Act first gained approval (or royal assent). The following month witnessed the Independence days of Maldives, Bhutan, Pakistan, and India.
What it Means to ChaiBag
We're a chai company that draws on a centuries old tea practice from India, and are 100% Asian American owned. Our tea comes from one of the oldest tea gardens in India, located near the foothills of the Himalayas. Centuries upon centuries of tea harvesting has led to the expertise with which the premium black tea that we use in our blends is grown and picked. The spices we use in each blend are inspired by the age-old science of Ayurveda, which details the medicinal properties of ingredients such as cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. Our blends are entirely a product of South Asian communities and culture.
Through each of our handcrafted, family-recipe based blends, we hope to share and celebrate a part of South Asian heritage with you!