Londons First Ever Festival of Sikh HeritageDate: Monday, 30 August, 2004
Kirtan in the Park
On 28th August, London‘s first ever festival of Sikh Heritage took place against the dramatic backdrop of Gunnersbury Park. A total in excess of 10,000 visitors were treated to spectacular stage performances by prominent Sikh musicians and speakers. An initiative of the Maharajah Duleep Singh Centenary Trust, this ‘Common Ground‘ Festival proved to be a major platform for promoting the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail. The mixed family audience at this unique event enjoyed performances from world class artists and experienced an array of displays in the Heritage Pavilion. The ranks of Trust volunteers swelled enormously in the preparation for the event. Its success was largely attributable to over 40 new volunteers who helped in a range of activities, from leafleting, set design and decoration.
Inside the Heritage Pavilion, away from the main stage there were many more things to see and do. The British Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, Imperial War Museum, Manchester Art Gallery, and the Wallace Collection all contributed, and helped to make the Heritage Pavilion very popular to visitors as well as being informative on issues relating to Sikh Heritage. As well as the museums, the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association brought a display, and officers from the Metropolitan Police were on hand to answer any questions from the public.
Peter Bance, author of a new book: ‘The Duleep Singhs‘, published by Sutton Publishing was also present. Many original documents, books and photographs relating to Maharajah Duleep Singh were on display including a family photo album, only recently discovered.
Particularly successful features of The Heritage Pavilion were the children‘s area where youngsters engaged, enthusiastically, in colouring Sikh pictures from the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the ASHT volunteer desk which saw over 20 new volunteers signing up to support the work of the project.
This enormously successful event was designed as a platform to publicise The Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail, which has been supported from its inception by English Heritage which, together with the Heritage Lottery Fund, is one of the main funders of the project.
Julius Bryant, Chief Curator at English Heritage was present on the day and had this to say:
"In virtual terms the trail will become a National Museum of Anglo Sikh Culture. It is your key to our shared heritage. But, to survive, it now needs you to use it. At home, and in your local libraries explore www.asht.info and plan your visits. We look forward to welcoming you to our historic sites"