Husky Heritage: Neha Kabir

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photo by Neha Kabir

Kabir (third one from left) and her friends perform a dance at the Bengali new year in 2019. This is just one way Kabir celebrates her Bengali heritage.

Stepping to the front of the room, junior Neha Kabir awaits the music. Taking a deep breath, she adjusts her saree, a traditional robe-like South Asian garment. Bengali music begins to play, a song chosen by her mother, and she begins to dance. 

Kabir was born in Michigan, but lived in Bangladesh for two years before moving to Florida. While there, Kabir saw a great deal of pollution, overpopulation and poverty, a stark contrast to her life in America. 

“Thankfully, [my family] was able to afford food and a house unlike many others,” Kabir said. “Regardless of that, it’s still a lot less luxurious than America by a long shot. Seeing how people live there really makes me feel grateful for everything I have now.”

Today, Kabir finds ways to appreciate her culture through community celebrations. Performing dances with her friends, Kabir celebrates pohela boishakh, or the Bengali new year, on April 14. 

“Every year, the community and my family host a celebration where people come together and perform dances, poems, songs,” Kabir said. “I’ve performed a dance with my friends almost every year since I was young.”

Although Kabir says she is not religious, her family also at times celebrates Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting. 

“When we moved here, my family met a community of other Bengali people who are Muslim,” Kabir said. “They celebrate Eid twice a year [so] we like to go to parties and celebrate with them.”

Kabir still visits her parents’ hometown of Dhaka, Bangladesh, her last visit in 2017. 

“I definitely miss being around family the most, but I love my life and friends in Florida and wouldn’t give it up for anything,” Kabir said. 

Living both in Bangladesh and America has allowed Kabir to see the world through multiple lenses. 

“It has definitely allowed me to be less small-minded, and to actively seek out and appreciate other cultures around the world because I know what it is like to be both a South Asian and an American,” Kabir said. “I like to talk with other people with different cultures about what their experiences are like living in America.”

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