The date of Indian Independence Act 1947 kicks off UK Heritage Month

The date of Indian Independence Act 1947 kicks off UK Heritage Month

The Mayor of London's office has launched the first South Asia Heritage Month to celebrate the contributions of the South Asian community to British life.

City Hall said the special month'seeks to commemorate, mark and celebrate South Asian cultures and the intertwined histories of the UK and South Asian communities and how the South Asian culture resonates across London and throughout the UK.The month begins on July 18 as the date the Indian Independence Act 1947 gained Royal Assent and ends on August 17, marked as Partition Commemoration Day.

Sights and sounds

South Asian influences can be found everywhere in the UK, from our food and clothes to our music and even our words, and the streets of east and west London are rich with the colours, sights and sounds of proud South Asian identities, said Jasvir Singh, interfaith activist and co-founder of South Asian Heritage Month (SAHM).

From Southall to Wembley, and from Ilford to Brick Lane, South Asian cultures permeate all parts of life and adds to the diversity of London, he said.

The South Asia celebration covers eight countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Singh notes that each of these countries has been hugely impacted by its relationship with the UK, primarily through war and colonisation via the British Empire.

Embed histories

?Part of SAHM seeks to explore and embed understandings of these histories, which are important to any understanding of present-day UK and London. For example, these histories are inextricably linked to the presence of large South Asian communities in the UK and London, with one in every seven Londoners being of South Asian heritage, notes Singh.
This has motivated me to co-create a month dedicated to reclaiming the history and identity of British South Asians. People of South Asian heritage need to tell their own stories, and this is our opportunity to show what it means to be South Asian in the 21st century, as well as look to the past to see how we got here, he said.
The focus of SAHM will be on the celebration of arts, culture and heritage; commemoration of the history and important anniversaries; and education and awareness around these issues.The organisers highlight that the month also coincides with the South Asian month of Saravan/Sawan, which is the main Monsoon month when the region's habitat undergoes renewal.
From concerts and workshops to quiz nights and storytelling, the SAHM plans to host a series of virtual events over the course of the month given the coronavirus pandemic social distancing restrictions.
by Nadia Hatink

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