South Asian Heritage Month – Introduction + Resources

South Asian Heritage Month runs from the 18th July to the 17th August. It was launched in 2020, and this year focuses on the theme of ‘Journeys of Empire’. This theme encompasses many different aspects of South Asian identity, not only in Britain, but other communities across the diaspora that were, and continue to be, influenced by the journeys of the Empire.

The 18th July is significant because it is the date that the Indian Independence Act 1947 gained royal assent from King George VI, and ends on the 17th August, the date that the Radcliffe Line was published in 1947, which finally set out where the border between India, West Pakistan and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) would be.

The start and end dates show just how much of an influence Britain has had on South Asia as a whole over the last few centuries.

The area of South Asia is made up of 8 countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • India
  • Nepal
  • The Maldives
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka

British rule of India lasted from 1858 to 1947. This wide reaching and complex period of history is one that many of us know little about, and as we’ve alluded to, it’s had an astonishing impact on both the countries of South Asia and the United Kingdom respectively- in fact 1:20 people in the UK can trace their heritage back to South Asia, each with a personal migration story. *2011 census results

We’ll be sharing several articles and informative pieces throughout the month but if you would like to start your South Asian learning today, here are some great places to start:

Education:

South Asian Heritage Month’s website has some amazing resources for educators, parents and the curious alike.

Partition Education Group are a CIC organisation led by a group of passionate professionals from across the educational and cultural sectors, coming together to encourage and facilitate increased engagement with the history of South Asia – with a particular focus on the 1947 Partition – within UK schools.

Pran Patel is an anti-racist educator, founder of The Teacherist and author of The Anti Racist Educator

The United Kingdom Punjab Heritage Association (UKPHA) is dedicated to securing Punjab’s cultural heritage for today’s audiences.

Books:

Partition Voices: Untold British Stories, by Kavita Puri

The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan, by Yasmin Cordery Khan

You can find an extensive list of further recommendations for books around the subject of Partition here

Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History, by Rozina Visram

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor

Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain, by Sathnam Sanghera

Arts & Culture:

This poem, written by Hussain Manawer and video produced by Anita Rani, was created for the launch of South Asian Heritage Month: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I71ua3rlxPg

Reshma Ruia is a co-founder of The Whole Kahani (The Complete Story), a collective of British fiction writers of South Asian origin. Reshma was Commissioned by the University of Cumbria to write three poems, and this was supported by a residency at Rydal Mount.

This list of ‘5 South Asian artists  you should know about’ comes from the brilliant Asian Women Festival, a global community of over 30,000 people who are breaking down stereotypes through vibrant culture, conversation and art.

And here are ’12 more South Asian artists that should be on your radar’ as compiled by Craft & Travel.

South Asian Arts UK in Leeds a centre of excellence in Indian classical music and dance.

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Manchester is a recognised educational institute within Manchester Council’s Supplementary Schools Network. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, the original Institution of Indian Art and Culture, was established by Dr. K M Munshi under the auspices of Mahatma Gandhi in 1938.

Music:

BRANA BEATS gives a modern take on the Mridangam – an ancient South Indian instrument.

Indian Raga bring Indian classical music & dance to a modern audience, by making the art accessible to anyone, anywhere.

Mithushan is a Carnatic Percussionist who’s making waves on TikTok.

Rushil is a singer, songwriter & composer & a part of the Orchestral Qawwali Project alongside Abi Sampa and Amrit Singh

Raja Kamari has been described a force of nature. Her fearless, charismatic personality and natural-born storytelling create art that blends her Indian roots with her American upbringing.

Who else to follow on social:

The Wanderlust Women, a hiking and adventure group for Muslim women. Founded by Amira The Wanderlust, their vision is to normalise Muslim women exploring the great outdoors, and to make women feel confident when they are outdoors.

Zarah Mahmood is The Hillwalking Hiijabi, who also encourages Muslim women and new mums to get outdoors.

Kalyani Verma is a British born Sri Lankan Tamil teaching yoga & sharing delicious food.

Ashanti Omkar is a film, TV and streaming services critic, broadcaster, curator, film programmer, cultural consultant and writer available for commentary and commissions. She specialises in representation matters and visibility in pop culture.

Nihal Arthanayake is an award winning BBC broadcaster and author of Let’s Talk: How to Have Better Conversations

This list is just a starting point, please do get in touch with your suggestions and we’ll add them to this resource!