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Friday May 20th

Four to 144 pages: South Asian Saathee magazine highlights community over 20 years

DTH Photo Illustration. A student reads the January 2022 edition of Saathee.
Buy Photos DTH Photo Illustration. A student reads the January 2022 edition of Saathee.

Saathee, a free monthly publication focused on highlighting South Asian culture and the community in the Triangle and Triad areas, Charlotte and South Carolina, was created to fill a need.

Divakar Shukla, the publisher of Saathee, said that in the mid-1990s there was no media in the area for the South Asian community. Shukla and his family started Saathee to address that.

The first magazine was printed at a local copy shop.

“We handed it out to people at different temples and restaurants," Shukla said. "Our first issue in May of 1998, we had 800 copies that we printed with about four pages. From there, we have grown to our largest issue right before COVID of 144 pages.”

Saathee covers topics such as immigration, local events and the personal experiences of the South Asian community. The word "saathee" originates from the Sanskrit word "sathi," meaning companion or helper.

Samir Shukla, Divakar's brother and the editor of Saathee, said connecting the community has been the best experience while working on the magazine. 

“(Saathee is) not just a business,” he said. “It brings everyone together.”

Samir Shukla said the magazine also covers some news from India.

“Our motto is creating a bridge between the Indian subcontinent and America,” he said. 

Preethi Sriram, a writer for Saathee’s “Adult Indian Dance Student” blog, said she has read Saathee since she was a kid. 

“It is a great magazine for the South Asian population, but also for anybody who wants to read it in general,” Sriram said. “Being able to pick up a nice magazine at a local Indian store or restaurant, it’s a great way to stay connected with more of the cultural happenings of the South Asian community.”

Sriram said one of the best experiences while writing for Saathee was working with Divakar and Samir Shukla.

“Being able to contribute and write about my experiences has overall also been a really great experience,” Sriram said.

Another writer for Saathee, Rishi Oza, said he has been writing about immigration for the magazine for about 10 years.

“People get information in all kinds of ways,” Oza said. “(Saathee helps) a population that might not be able to access information about immigration, which tends to be really complex and confusing as it is.”

Oza said Saathee has had a broad, positive reach in the community.

"As a member of the community, it is really exciting to see a business grow and succeed," Oza said.

Divakar Shukla said that it has been great to see both Saathee and the South Asian community grow over the past 25 years.

“When we first arrived in Charlotte back in ‘79, there were hardly any South Asians there," he said. "There were no temples, no restaurants and no grocery stores. Now, there are so many big Indian grocery stores, temples and so forth. We’ve been there since it was really small and growing into what it is now, our business has flourished in that same way.”

This year, Divakar Shukla said Saathee is looking into expanding its social media presence. 

“You don’t need to say Saathee magazine, you can just say Saathee because we made that a goal that everyone knows about it,” Divakar Shukla said. “Everyone can get their information out of it.”

The magazine is available online, in stores and via direct mail. There is also a weekly newsletter. 

@carolinewills03

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com | elevate@dailytarheel.com

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