• Tuesday, February 27, 2024


Celebrate South Asian Heritage Month with Manchester Museum

The two-day festival will feature a variety of events including, film, music, workshops and more.

South Asian Heritage Month

By: Shubham Ghosh

MANCHESTER Museum, part of The University of Manchester, is celebrating South Asian Heritage Month or SAHM (July 18 – August 17) with an unmissable two-day festival featuring film, music, workshops and more.

The SAHM, which is an annual awareness month, begins on July 18, when the Indian Independence Act 1947 gained royal assent, and ends on August 17, when the Radcliffe Line was published in 1947, finally setting out the border between India, West Pakistan (now Pakistan) and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

On July 22, the event will see the private screening of Singh Twins’ ‘Jallianwala: Repression & Retribution’ and it will be followed by a conversation with the award-winning artists. The 2019 film focuses on their detailed artwork exploring the 1919 massacre in Jallianwala Bagh in Punjab in India when a British general ordered his troops to open fire on a peaceful demonstration of unarmed Indian civilians, including women and children.

South Asia Gallery Collective
Some members of South Asia Gallery Collective (Photo: Manchester Museum)

On the next day (July 23), a series of Bengali folk music performances and the screening of a short film ‘Our Songs’ will be organised. Poetry workshops with young people from Our Shared Cultural Heritage (OSCH) will be held where the participants will be helped on exploring ‘taboo’ subjects in a safe space.

Award-winning British author Anita Sethi will host a writing workshop focusing on place, nature and journeying. There will also be a panel discussion with the South Asia Collective — a group of inspiring individuals who have been integral in the production and design of Manchester Museum’s forthcoming South Asia Gallery.

Anita Sethi
Anita Sethi (Photo by George Torode)

The South Asia Gallery, a British Museum Partnership Gallery, will be opened for the public next February.

The objects and stories in the new gallery will draw on the lived experience and heritage of the Collective. Their storytelling is centred on both their personal and professional experiences, journeys of their families and their own research and interests.

The SAHM festival is taking place at the Whitworth on Oxford Road, while Manchester Museum is closed for its £15 million ‘hello future’ transformation.

Esme Ward, director of the Manchester Museum, said, “South Asian Heritage Month is an important celebration of South Asian heritage and history in the UK through arts, culture, education and commemoration.

“We’re delighted to mark this with a number of events that are programmed in collaboration with South Asian communities, artists and performers. It is also an opportunity to give audiences a taste of what’s to come when Manchester Museum reopens to visitors in 2023. Among our extraordinary new galleries will be the UK’s first permanent space dedicated to exploring the stories, experiences, cultures and contributions of South Asian diaspora.”

Find out more and book tickets on Manchester Museum’s Eventbrite page.

Programme schedule:

Friday, July 22: 6:30 – 8:30pm, The Singh Twins – Jallianwala: Repression & Retribution
An exclusive opportunity to see the Singh Twins’ 2019 film Jallianwala: Repression & Retribution, followed by an in conversation with the award-winning artists and Dr Deana Heath, author of ‘Colonial Terror: Torture and State Violence in Colonial India’.

Saturday, July 23:
12pm – 1pm, A Celebration of Bengali Folk Musical Heritage – Curated by Anindita Ghosh
This is a tribute to and celebration of Bengali folk music that has shaped the cultural identity of Bengali communities both in South Asia and the diaspora, including the UK.

In a series of musical and dance performances, embedded in narration and contextualisation, this one-hour event will provide a rich showcase of Bengali musical traditions that are still critical in shaping Bangladeshi heritage in the region and the wider world. There will be an additional screening of a short film called ‘Our Songs’ featuring an intergenerational dialogue on Bangla folk music.

12pm – 2pm, Writing Workshop with Anita Sethi
A two-hour session with tutor Anita Sethi, award-winning author of ‘I Belong Here: a Journey Along the Backbone of Britain’. We’ll explore themes of place, nature, journeying – both geographical and emotional journeys – and how writing can bring a sense of belonging. A workshop filled with practical tools and tips, in which you have time and space to work on writing exercises and share and develop your voice.

12pm – 3pm, Meet the South Asia Gallery Collective
Meet some of the team behind the Manchester Museum’s ground-breaking South Asia Gallery, which will be opened to the public in 2023. This panel discussion led by South Asia Gallery Curator Nusrat Ahmed will give an insight into the gallery, its development, vision and goals.

This is the first UK gallery of its size to be community co-curated. This discussion will be a unique opportunity to find out more about the process, with panel members sharing their experiences of co-curation, good practice and learning.

Throughout the day, Taboos & Untouched Topics hosted by Maya Chowdhury
Join the young people of Our Shared Cultural Heritage for a poetry workshop exploring taboos and untouched topics within South Asian culture and community. This workshop will provide a safe space to discuss and creatively respond to prompts such as mental health, sex, periods and more.

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