The festival is more important than ever after the surge in hate crimes and discrimination against the Asian community during the pandemic.
TOLEDO, Ohio – A showcase of culture in the Toledo area was born from the mind and heart of a local Asian woman and business owner who hopes others will do as well as her.
“I’m Indian. I was born in India. So I’m an Asian woman trying to survive in a business and I will support any woman because I know this is a very difficult time,” said Rita Jassal. Who Owns Bombay Kitchen on Monroe Street in Toledo?
Jassal says her Indian street food restaurant was shaken when the pandemic forced her to close indoor dining just two days after it opened.
“I survived when my community supported me, and I want to reach out and support all other women, Asian women, to help them, just as I got help from my community,” said Jassal.
To pay it forward, she is hosting the Asian Heritage Festival in Bombay Kitchen on Saturday afternoon.
The festival is in partnership with Women of Toledo and HerHub. Lisa Halsey, the owner of Elite Karate, Fitness and Wellness, is a partner of the movement.
“This month is the month of Asian Heritage and Pacific Islanders. So it is definitely the perfect time. And unfortunately, with what has happened in the past 14-15 months, Asian hatred has increased. So this is one.” great opportunity to do that, “said Halsey.
Federal government hate crimes against Asian Americans in 2019 were at their highest level in over a decade.
The numbers for 2020 are not yet known, but the Stop AAPI Hate advocacy group reported 2,800 hate incidents against the Asian community last year.
“At the University of Toledo we have just over 1,800 students from 84 countries,” said Xinren Yu, deputy director of the Center for International Studies and Programs at the University of Toledo. “A large chunk of them are actually from Asian countries, so I know there is Asian hatred going on right now. This has caused great anxiety among students from Asia, so events like this are vital.”
According to Jassal, this event is about helping others excel, regardless of your heritage, culture, or race.
“I pray to God that all of your dreams will come true. Just like mine,” said Jassal.
The Asian Heritage Festival takes place on Saturday from 1pm to 6.30pm in the Bombay Kitchen
There is a variety of food, music and entertainment for the whole family. Masks are required.
While tickets are sold out online, organizers state they have left room for walk-ins to stop by and enjoy the event.