Indian Gate at Brighton to honour sacrifice of soldiers with multi-faith event

Indian Gate at Brighton to honour sacrifice of soldiers with multi-faith event
Courtesy: Brighton & Hove Council

Brighton & Hove in south-east England is set to host a new annual multi-faith event in October to recognise and honour Indian soldiers who have fought for the country in two World Wars.

Soldiers from undivided India – including modern-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar (Burma) – played a significant role in ensuring victory in both world wars. Their contribution is recognised in Remembrance events in the seaside city with a service at the Brighton War memorial every November and a memorial service at the Chattri Memorial focused on the Hindu and Sikh soldiers whose ashes are there. Adding a further multi-faith event at the Indian Gate in the heart of the city centre is expected to build greater awareness of the role of soldiers from the Indian subcontinent in the war effort, reflecting the diverse religious communities and celebrating the welcoming and inclusive reputation of the city.

At a meeting last week, members of Brighton & Hove's Culture, Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Economic Development Committee agreed to the delivery of this new event.

Councillor Alan Robins, chair of the committee, said: “Soldiers from across South Asia are a key part of our heritage and we must share the diverse stories of each of these heroes.

“Holding an annual event is a fitting way to ensure residents young and old recognise their contributions and sacrifices, and better understand the different histories of our multiculture city. Any celebration would not only mark our past but also provide an opportunity to learn from it and build new connections in the future.”

The new community event will be delivered by a committee of community leaders, in partnership with the Brighton & Hove Museums, and supported by Brighton & Hove City Council. Before any event goes ahead, the committee will engage with local Armed Forces personnel and veterans, those who lead on current Remembrance events, the Undivided Indian Ex-Services Association, and leaders from the wider South Asian community.


Indian Gate at Brighton to honour sacrifice of soldiers with multi-faith event
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Indian soldiers from various regions, religions, and backgrounds served in the British Indian Army and played a significant role in supporting the British Empire's war efforts. In World War I (1914-1918), more than 1.5 million soldiers from undivided India served in the British Indian Army and in World War II (1939-1945), over 2.5 million soldiers made up the largest volunteer army in history.

In addition to combat, Muslim and Buddhist soldiers served in support roles that contributed to the overall war effort. 

During the First World War some buildings in Brighton, including the Royal Pavilion, Dome and Corn Exchange, were converted into military hospitals to care for around 12,0000 Indian soldiers wounded fighting on the western front.

The Indian hospitals are marked by two monuments in Brighton – the Chattri on the Downs and an Indian Gate at the southern entrance to the Royal Pavilion Garden.

The Indian Gate was presented to the people of Brighton by the “princes and people of India” as a gesture of thanks for the care provided by the town’s Indian hospitals and is ‘dedicated to the use of the inhabitants of Brighton’.


Indian Gate at Brighton to honour sacrifice of soldiers with multi-faith event
World War I Indian soldiers commemorated at Barton-on-Sea Indian Memorial Obelisk

It was unveiled by the Maharaja of Patiala in October 1921 and During his speech at the opening ceremony, he talked of the sacrifices made by Indian men, there was also emphasis around “Dr Brighton”, a popular reference to the town’s reputation as a place of healing.

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