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South Asian Heritage Month 18th July – 17th August

  • 11th August 2020

This is the first year of South Asian Heritage Month, initiated by the British Council. It is designed to help us explore the shared histories of the UK and South Asia. How have you been celebrating? Do you or someone you know have records to deposit with Worcester Archives Archaeology Service?

South Asia is formed of 8 countries, namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. South Asia Heritage Month (SAHM) takes place across two Western calendar months 18th July – 17th August. The reason for this is that it respects the traditions of the South Asian solar calendar.

Delhi Street Item 2032, India, Item 2159 Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection, ref 832 BA16072

 

The London City Hall blog has a summary of significant dates during the celebratory month:

  • 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

Fakier Sitting On Bed Of Nails, India, Item 2159 Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection, ref 832 BA16072

A School Visit, Ceylin (now Sri Lanka), Item 1400 Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection, ref 832 BA16072

 

The British Council are working with Manchester Museum to create opportunities for young people and support heritage organisations to engage with South Asian Heritage month in 2021. For more information see British Council SAHM. This year unfortunately the celebrations are online due to Covid-19. Visit Manchester Museum SAHM  to find out what’s going on and how you can get involved and submit ideas.

Holy men, India, Item 2033 Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection, ref 832 BA16072

Engineering Course, Unknown School, India, Item 1394 Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection, ref 832 BA16072

 

Disappointingly we don’t have many collections that directly represent South Asian communities of Worcestershire i.e. records deposited or created by people with South Asian heritage. It would have been lovely to showcase share a wide variety of records in this blog, but sadly that is not the case. We must acknowledge of course that Worcestershire has benefited from British Imperialism in India, including the monopoly over trade in the form of the East India Company and its alternative names. In many cases when researching our records, it is important to keep this in mind as a kind of ‘back-drop’.

Outpatients Waiting For The Doctor, India, Item 2021 Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection, ref 832 BA16072

 

One significant item we have is a volume of sketches illustrating the ‘Siege of Lucknow’ in 1957 which is yet to be fully catalogued ref: 14330. Lucknow, which is in north India played an important role in India’s First War of Independence. The British Residency was in Lucknow and the Indian rebels, in their Siege managed to ensure it was abandoned, before Lucknow was later recaptured by the British. Knowing independence didn’t come till almost 100 years later really puts this into perspective. Lucknow, had a diverse population then, as it does now. One illustration in the volume is of the Mosque which was a picket point for the British Indian soldiers of the East India Company.

Illustration no. 24 The Mosque Picket, Sketches of Siege of Lucknow, India, ref:14330

 

The volume, goes into detail in the descriptions about how the British Residency was defended. It is important to note that the descriptions, though valuable are written by a British Lieutenant of the time and are not how we choose to recount the events now. The volume gives us insight into the mindset of the Empire, since it is a first-hand account and with very detailed sketches showing damage done to Lucknow buildings during the First War of Independence.

Description for Illustration no. 24 The Mosque Picket, Sketches of Siege of Lucknow, India, ref:14330

 

We do have some wonderful photos to celebrate SAHM, in our Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection (ref 832 BA16072) which you can see throughout this blog. Arthur Henry Winfield was a Worcestershire resident. The collection holds 1800 slides, 1200 of which were taken by Whinfield in the 1880s during his world tours. They include internationally important sites and landscapes now lost. The images included are of India and Sri Lanka. They are incredibly striking images and we hope you enjoy them.

Hindu Widow, India, Item 2046 Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection, ref 832 BA16072

Girls Orphanage, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Item 1399 Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection, ref 832 BA16072

 

Maybe you are celebrating South Asian Heritage Month and you would like to deposit records showing how you have been celebrating. Maybe you celebrated Eid recently?

We are very keen for our archive collections to represent South Asian communities living or working in Worcestershire. Maybe you have South Asian heritage and keep your own collections? Maybe your records include diaries, correspondence, photographs, records of community work, or groups you attend, maybe business records?  Contact us at  Explore The Past Archive Enquiry. We would love to discuss with you the benefits of depositing records with us, digital or hardcopy.

We are keen to accept deposits on an ongoing basis, not just during around SAHM. This material can help provide future generations with records for all kinds of research and can enrich our sense identity in the process! Keep them coming and gradually we can achieve our aim of broadening our collections. We are keen to know what SAHM and our shared history means to you.

Three Aux Nurses in Native Dress, India, Item 2045 Whinfield Lantern Slide Collection, ref 832 BA16072

 

Happy South Asian Heritage Month!

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