Issue No:  7


 

In This Issue

  • Heritage Shared
  • Maharani Remembered
  • 10th Anniversary
  • 'The Black Prince of Perthshire'
  • Chattri Memorial

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Heritage Shared
 Jewel in the Crown, Saturday 5th September

This unique season of events featuring a spectacular launch event at the Tower of London where Tigerstyle will perform live, is now only a few days away!

From fascinating lectures on Sikh figures such as Maharani Jindan Kaur, to  music and theatre performances in spectacular locations, this event series promises something for everyone to enjoy.

This years events include, a talk by the Singh Twins, storytelling at the V & A, bhangra at Eastnor Castle, film screenings and illustrated talks.

Recently Added 

Film screening of 'The Prisoners Song', a powerful film by Micheal Singh based on a 1916 sound recording of a Sikh Soldier captured during the First World War.

Raj Academy to support Tigerstyle with a live classical music performance at the Tower of London on 5th September.

Visit www.asht.info/heritage_shared for more information


Maharani Remembered
Guests gather at The Dissenters Chapel for the unveiling of the plaque. Image Courtesy Taran Singh

In the light summer drizzle, a group of Sikhs stood under the roof of the Dissenter's Chapel in Kensal Green in West London, waiting for a precious moment from their history to come alive again. Among the crowds were the descendants of Lord Lawrence of Punjab, the governor general during the Anglo Sikh Wars. The occasion was the unveiling of a memorial to Jind Kaur, the Maharani of Punjab, wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and mother of Duleep Singh. A frisson of excitement passed through the crowd as the late Sikh historian, Patwant Singh, unveiled the plaque. It was clear that the tragedy of the last ruler of Punjab still managed to touch the hearts of the Sikh community abroad.

It was on August 1, 1863 that the Maharani had died in London, a rebel to the last. Her body had been kept temporarily at the Dissenter's Chapel in Kensal Green Cemetery by her son Duleep Singh, as cremation was illegal in Britain at the time. The Dissenter's Chapel was where they brought the "non-believers" in the nineteenth century. Over six months later, Duleep Singh took her remains to India to arrange for the cremation. The British, however, stopped him from travelling to Punjab and the Maharani was cremated at Nasik near Bombay.

"Maharani Jind Kaur was a dissenter. It was under her influence that Duleep Singh turned rebel and returned to his Sikh roots later in life....." Peter Bance, Author

Extract from an article by Shrabani Basu featured in The Telegraph India


10th Anniversary
The Mayor of Thetford with volunteers at the statue of Maharajah Duleep Singh.

July 2009 marked the 10th anniversary of the unveiling of the statue of Maharajah Duleep Singh by the Prince of Wales, at Butten Island in the small town of Thetford.

Widely regarded as the first major piece of Sikh public art outside India, this beautiful statue, was erected in 1993 to mark the centenary of the Death of Maharajah Duleep Singh, the Last Maharajah of Lahore.

Now a significant landmark on the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail, every year hundreds of Sikhs from all over the world visit the statue as well the final resting place of the Maharajah, at nearby Elveden churchyard.

The Mayor of Thetford, Councillor Pam Spencer was present to mark this tenth anniversary which was commemorated with the cleaning of the statue by volunteers from Fortel Ltd.

For further information on the statue visit www.asht.info

'The Black Prince of Perthshire'
 A Scottish Sikh at the Kenmore Highland games. Image courtesy Jag Reyatt

In early July a group of American Sikhs took part in the Inaugural Scottish Sikh Heritage Tour. This historic journey followed the footsteps of Maharajah Duleep Singh who was sometimes known as the 'Black Prince of Perthshire'.

Surrounded by stunning highland countryside, the first evening was spent watching the Kenmore Highland games which included Scottish highland dancing and spectacular displays of military pipe bands.

The second day began with a visit to Kenmore churchyard, the final resting place of the Maharajahs first born son, followed by Castle Menzies where the Maharajah stayed for over a year enjoying the life of a clan chief.  The day finished with a visit to magnificent Blair Castle.  A place where the Maharajah had also spent time with Scottish nobles and taking part in shooting parties.

Other highlights included a demonstration of Highland weaponry and warfare, and a fascinating talk by James Rattray about the Sikh connection with the Rattray Clan of the Highlands.

'We had great fun on the Scottish Sikh Heritage tour! It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about and experience different aspects of Scottish Sikh heritage through the historical and cultural connections we share....The Clan Challenge was a particular highlight for us - with lots of laughs and plenty of fun moments.....'The Singh Twins

See more images of the tour at  www.asht.info/gallery

Chattri Memorial
Chattri Memorial, Patcham Downs, Brighton. Image courtesy H S Grewal

Earlier this summer ASHT participated in the annual memorial service held at the Chattri Memorial in Brighton.

This memorial marks the spot where 53 Indian soldiers were cremated, both Sikh and Hindu, who died in Brighton during the First World War. Muslim soldiers who died were buried at the nearby cemetery in Woking.  

These soldiers were part of the one and a half million strong Indian Army contingent who saw active service on all fronts during the First World War.  The wounded were brought to makeshift hospitals all over Brighton for treatment, where sadly, many died.

After the end of the war, which saw millions dead on both sides, the contribution made by the Indian Army was seen as crucial in defeating the enemy, and two monuments were erected in recognition and appreciation.  The first of these was the Chattri which was unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 1921.  The second was a gateway in the grounds of the Royal Pavilion donated and unveiled by the Maharajah of Patiala 1921.

These memorials today, serve as a poignant reminder of the bravery and sacrifice of 'India's fighting sons'.

Find out more about the memorial at www.asht.info/trail

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