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Staying connected to Indian heritage, the saree way

Staying connected to Indian heritage, the saree way

Hema Manjunath is a radio show presenter at Rangoli Radio and a choir singer from the Bharatiya Vrund Gaan, and has been a active participant in several diaspora and community events over the years. Here, she writes exclusively for iGlobal on the recent Made in India Royal Heritage Walk organised by British Women in Sarees.

Founded by Dr Dipti Jain, the British Women in Sarees (BWIS), which celebrates the iconic Indian drapes from across India, has successfully hosted unique events in the past – namely, the London Walkathon in Sarees with nearly 700 Indian Women in the UK in August 2023 and previously, ‘Sarees in Royal Ascot’ in June 2022.

My husband and I were thrilled to have been a part of BWIS’ most recent outing on the Thames “Made in India- Royal Heritage Walk.” With lots of excitement, we travelled over 200 miles for the five-hour long event and were greeted with sunny smiles by over 120 British Indian participants on the freezing cold day.

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Commencing at The London Tower on the Erasmus Boat, the hugely anticipated event, which saw the representation of 13 Indian states, was a chance to meet other diaspora members from around the UK and connect with them through our shared heritage. The bright and colourful display of weaves was further accentuated by marvellous dance performances which brought the beats of each state to the event.

We were one of two couples to represent Karnataka at the event. Not only was it a great experience dancing to Karnataka’s popular patriotic and folk songs with the other Kannada couple, but it was just as fun collaborating with them in the run up to the event to decide on coordinating outfits, jewellery, and props, like the one shown below used in Karnataka during Gauri Puja.

In line with the heritage theme, there were also several fun competitions and prizes for the ‘Best Dressed Couple' and ‘Best Draped Saree’ which gave the 45 couples present a chance to show off their heritage. It was a very pleasant surprise when we won the ‘Best Dressed Couple’ competition and were gifted a beautiful silk saree and a divinely designed shawl as prize.

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Over the last two decades in the UK, I have been a part of various Indian cultural, community and charity events. Whether it is singing in Bharatiya Vrund Gaan choir or hosting radio shows on Rangoli Radio – which reaches the global Indian diaspora – keeping in touch with our heritage is something I make an effort to do. And, indeed, each diaspora member should too - not only for ourselves but also for the generations to come!

*Info: British Women in Sarees

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