Date: December 2008


 

In This Issue

  • Memories Beyond the Grave
  • ASHT Gala Dinner
  • Journeys Through History
  • Anglo Sikh Heritage Week 2008
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Editorial

Welcome to the new look ASHT newsletter!

The next newsletter will follow very shortly in order to bring you coverage of all the milestones in what has been a very busy and successful 2008!

These newsletters can only provide a partial glimpse of our ongoing work.  The website is regularly updated and should be consulted for details of future events, new discoveries and much more......
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Memories Beyond the Grave

A Victorian-era headstone that marked the temporary resting place of an Indian queen has gone on display at the Ancient House Museum in Thetford.

She was Maharani Jindan Kaur, the wife of the one-eyed 'Lion of the Punjab'- Maharajah Ranjit Singh - and her son was the dashing Prince Duleep Singh, who was painted by the Victorian artist Franz Xavier Winterhalter.  Her grandson was Prince Frederick Duleep Singh who gave the historic Ancient House to the Norfolk town.

 

The two foot by two foot marble stone lay untouched beneath the catacombs of the old Kensal Green Dissenters Chapel in Northwest London for almost a century and a half, until discovered late last year. Experts are stunned that this remarkable piece of history has survived.

Maharani Jindan's own story is as turbulent as the times in which she lived. In the mid-1840-s the beautiful Jindan Kaur had given the British plenty of trouble during her short reign as Regent of Lahore, following the death of her husband.

Proud and wilful, she was toppled from power and sent into exile. The British called her the "Messalina of the Punjab".  Much later she was brought to England where she in died in 1863.

As one visitor to the unveiling observed "There appears to be very little actual material evidence of Rani Jindan's stay in the UK.  In that sense this is a hugely significant and emotionally charged discovery"

 


ASHT Gala Dinner

Earlier this year the first ASHT Fundraising Dinner was held amidst the spectacular surroundings of Eastnor Castle.  More than 100 guests, including England Cricketer Monty Panesar, began the evening with a reception on the castle's amazing upper terrace overlooking its own magnificent lake.

During the course of the evening, guests were entertained by Emmy Award winning comedian Inder Manocha and enjoyed a superb three-course meal.  The evening included a raffle draw and an auction, both raising a significant amount of money.  Four awards were presented to long time supporters of ASHT, including Monty Panesar and renowned musician Sukshinder Shinda.


Have a look at the photogallery here


Journeys Through History

The contrast could not have been greater. On one hand, the awe-inspiring splendour of the throne of the Sher-e-Punjab with its gold leaf. On the other, the bleak grey headstone marking the grave of the last Sikh Emperor Duleep Singh.

The former a treasure shining proudly amidst the imposing surroundings of the world famous Victoria and Albert museum in the heart of London. The other exuding an eerie silence in an almost anonymous churchyard in rural Suffolk.

Yet the two are inextricably linked and form, respectively, the starting and finishing points of the first official tour of Anglo-Sikh heritage by an overseas group. Comprising individuals and families from the USA, Canada, and even a retired colonel from India, this group shared one common thread- an irrepressible interest in the heritage of their faith.

When the tour was promoted by the Sikhpoint.com website, it was claimed that it would "lift the hearts and open the eyes". As the group stood in light rainfall, assembled in silent reflection and remembrance around the grave of Duleep Singh, some eyes were closed as tears flowed.

It was a moving moment, yet the stillness and sorrow was instantly followed by a fresh
spring in the by now weary step of these pioneering travellers. In a week of relentless discovery, they had indeed ventured where few had gone before.

But now, as they walked with their back to the churchyard towards their coach their heritage was no longer a thing of the past - it had inspired their future!

Anglo Sikh Heritage Week 2008

The fifth annual Anglo Sikh Heritage Week took place between the 13th and 21st of September.  A rich programme of events was held across the country, reflecting all aspects of Sikh history in Britain.

Author Navtej Sarna was among those speaking on Sikh heritage, with a talk about his new novel 'The Exile' based on the life of Maharajah Duleep Singh.

The Imperial War Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum were among the many institutions showcasing their impressive collections of Sikh history (some being taken out of archives especially for the occasion), with curators giving their own perspectives on the material.

ASHT returned to the stunning grounds of Eastnor Castle, where the ASHT Gala Dinner was held (see article above) for a display of Gatka, a traditional Sikh martial art.

Storytelling sessions, art and music workshops meant that there really was something for everyone over the week.

See the photogallery of events here

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