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South Asian Heritage Month

17 July 2020

As a team we are passionate about making sure that London’s communities are visible and have their voices heard. Throughout the year, we support communities to commemorate key cultural, religious and community moments. Whether through supporting communities to host events at City Hall, engaging the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility & Community Engagement or establishing advisory groups on key events and moments. So, this summer, we’re excited to shine a spotlight on South Asian Heritage Month (SAHM) which has launched this year.

South Asian Heritage Month runs from 18th July – 17th August and seeks to commemorate, mark and celebrate South Asian cultures, histories particularly the intertwined histories of the UK and South Asian communities and how South Asian cultures are present throughout the UK and indeed London. The month begins on the 18th July, the date that the Indian Independence Act 1947 gained royal assent and ends on the 17th August, Partition Commemoration Day.

Jasvir Singh, co-founder of SAHM has provided some words below on the importance of celebrating South Asian histories:

Co-founder of South Asian Heritage Month Jasvir Singh

South Asia is formed of 8 countries, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Each of these countries has been hugely impacted by its relationship with the UK, primarily through war and colonisation via the British Empire. 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 1 in every 7 Londoners being of South Asian heritage. 

The above 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. 

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. 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.

South Asian Heritage Month aims to transform how people connect with South Asian cultures and identity in three ways. 

  1. Celebration of arts, culture and heritage
  2. Commemoration of the history and anniversaries.
  3. Education on above

What is the Significance of the Dates?

Unlike most commemoration months, SAHM takes place across two Western calendar months (July & August. The reason for this that it respects the traditions of the South Asian solar calendar and the 18th July – 17th August contains several significant dates:

  • 18th July: the Independence of India Act 1947 gained royal assent
  • 26th July: Maldives Independence Day
  • 8th August: Bhutan Independence Day
  • 14th August: Pakistani Independence Day
  • 15th August: Indian Independence Day
  • 17th August: Partition Commemoration Day or the date that the Radcliffe Line was published in 1947, setting out where the border between India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) would be

The month also very nearly coincides with the South Asian month of Saravan/Sawan, which is the main monsoon month when the region's habitat undergoes renewal

You can get involved with the month via SAHM’s programme of online events and their social channels below, the hashtag #SouthAsianHeritageMonth will be used across socials – Website, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

  

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