Asian Heritage Month Employee Feature- Zahra Husain

What’s your connection to Asia? Where is your family from?

I am South Asian, and my family is from India. My dad’s side of the family is from Burhanpur, a city in the state of Madhya Pradesh, and my mom’s side is from Nagpur, which is in Maharashtra. 

What does having Asian heritage/ancestry mean to you?

Having Asian heritage, specifically Indian heritage, holds deep meaning for me and is an integral part of my identity. It shapes the way I perceive the world around me. Having Asian heritage has instilled in me a strong sense of family, community, and respect for Elders. The values of compassion, humility, and resilience deeply ingrained in Asian cultures continue to guide my interactions and shape my character. I also feel connected to a broader global community, as Asia is known for its rich history, diverse cultures, and vibrant traditions.

What Asian figure do you think more people should know about?

An Asian figure I think more people should know about is Shabana Azmi. Shabana Azmi is an Indian actress, social activist, and advocate for women’s rights. She has been a prominent figure in the Indian film industry and is known for her powerful performances and socially relevant roles. She has also used her influence to champion gender equality, education, and healthcare initiatives and has been an inspiration and voice for social change.

What is your favourite cultural tradition?

My favourite cultural tradition is celebrating Eid al-Fitr with my family. Eid al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of Ramadan, which is a month when Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. There are many ways to celebrate this occasion, but in my family, we dress in cultural clothing, get together with relatives for a feast, and exchange gifts and money.

What do you hope to see for the Asian community in coming years?

I hope for increased representation of the Asian community in various fields, including media, politics, business, and leadership positions. I hope to see more opportunities for Asian individuals to share their stories, challenge stereotypes, and contribute to shaping the narratives that surround us.

How do you incorporate Asian identity in your way of life?

One way I incorporate Asian identity in my way of life is through food. I not only love eating Indian and other types of Asian cuisines, but also cooking dishes from these regions as it connects me to my heritage and brings me a sense of comfort and belonging. I also stay connected with my identity through watching Asian movies and TV shows, as well as listening to music from various Asian countries.

What is one activity or dish from the Asian side of your culture that you think everybody should try?

One dish from my culture that I think everybody should try is biryani. It’s a dish that includes rice, meat, and vegetables marinated in Indian spices and is just a big burst of flavour in every bite! It can also easily be made vegetarian/vegan, which is just as flavourful 🙂

Beyond your Asian heritage, what other identities do you hold dear?

I am Muslim, and while I am not particularly religious, this identity is still dear to me as I have been surrounded by Islamic values and traditions growing up and have deep respect and admiration for the faith and culture.  

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