On Friday 17th July, the Mayor of London announced the launch of the first South Asia Heritage Month (SAHM), with the aim of celebrating the contributions of the South Asian community to the UK’s socio-economic fabric.
The celebrations are slated to run until August 17 and will recognise South Asian cultures and the intertwined histories of the UK and South Asian diaspora. 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.
Those part of SAHM include celebrity names such as Binita Kane, Bobby Seagull, Anita Rani and Amir Khan GP. Anita tweeted,
“I am so proud to reveal the official launch video for @SAHM_UK a special poem written by the incredible Hussain Manawer and music gifted by @nirajchag produced by yours truly. A labour of love. Welcome to the first ever #SouthAsianHeritageMonth.”
In the meantime, Dr Khan recorded a video of what it means to him to be of South Asian heritage. He revealed his love of the food, culture, dancing and his pride at being British Asian and how it has helped him in his medical career.
The South Asia celebration covers eight countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Co-founder of SAHM, Jasvir Singh emphasises that each of these countries has been hugely impacted by its relationship with the UK, primarily through war and colonisation via the British Empire. He noted,
“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. “
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 story-telling, the SAHM plans to host a series of virtual events over the course of the month given the coronavirus pandemic social distancing restrictions