London, Monday 22nd July – The concept launch of South Asian Heritage Month was held at the House of Commons. The British South Asian community make up 3 million of the UK population, with 1 in every 20 people living in the UK being of South Asian heritage.
The evening consisted of spoken word artists, audio visual displays and other live performances, as well as speeches from key figures within the community, who discussed education, arts, culture and commemoration with the goal of helping people to better understand the diversity of present-day Britain and improving levels of social cohesion between the various communities.
The month comes as a result of a number of initiatives over the past ten years, including a series of commissioned programmes by the BBC in 2017 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Partition of India. The campaign is being led by The Faiths Forum for London, The Grand Trunk Project and the Partition Commemoration Campaign.
Dr. Binita Kane, a lung doctor from Manchester featured in the award winning BBC1 documentary My Family, Partition and Me, where second and third generation British Asians were taken back to South Asia to explore their family stories during the time of Partition and has been campaigning for Partition to be commemorated ever since.
“The Partition of India was one of the most important historical events in the 20th Century and has shaped much of modern day multicultural Britain”
“‘I was ashamed that even with such a personal connection, I knew little about this and I had learned nothing about it in school. I felt compelled to raise the profile and we are now also campaigning to have Partition History taught on the school curriculum.”
“I hope that South Asian Heritage Month will stimulate a much-needed conversation about this important part of our national history but also be a celebration of the incredible influence that South Asia has had on British Culture.”
Jasvir Singh OBE is co-chair of the Faiths Forum for London, an interfaith organisation based in London which represents the interests of the nine major faith traditions. He is also the chair for City Sikhs, which provides a voice for progressive Sikhs.
In 2017, he founded The Grand Trunk Project to bring together the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities in the UK to promote much needed dialogue around their shared cultural and historical heritage, as well as celebrating the differences. The project marked 70 years since the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent by organising thirteen events across the country took place.
“As people from British South Asian backgrounds, we need to be able to own our history and heritage. The purpose of South Asian Heritage Month is to do precisely that. It’s a fantastic way of ensuring that we can mark, commemorate and celebrate South Asian history and culture, as well as look at the diverse links between British and South Asia over the centuries to the present day.”
“We cannot ignore the lasting impact that Empire has had, but the heritage and history of the region goes back many centuries before the birth of the British East India Company. There is also much more to South Asian identity than saris, samosas and sitars.”
“At a time when the country appears deeply divided, South Asian Heritage Month will help us to focus on the diverse nature of that identity as well as explore and celebrate all that makes us who we are, British and South Asian alike.”
Look out for further events around the country and keep up to date with all the news by following @LondonFaiths and @TheGTP on Twitter and our hashtag #SouthAsianHeritageMonth.