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Celebrate South Asian Heritage Month with Manchester Museum

09 Jun 2022

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

Some of the South Asia Gallery Collective

On 22 July there is an opportunity to attend the private screening of the Singh Twins’ film Jallianwala: Repression & Retribution followed by a conversation with the award-winning artists.  The film focuses on their detailed artwork exploring the massacre of 13 April 1919, when a soldier of the British Raj ordered troops to open fire on a peaceful demonstration of unarmed Indian civilians.

The celebrations continue on 23 July with a series of Bengali folk music performances and a screening of a short film, ‘Our Songs’. Poetry workshops with young people from Our Shared Cultural Heritage (OSCH) will give attendees the chance to explore ‘taboo’ subjects in a safe space. Award-winning author Anita Sethi will host a writing workshop focusing on place, nature and journeying. And there will 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. 

The South Asia Gallery, a British Museum Partnership Gallery, will open to the public in February 2023. The objects and stories in this new gallery will draw on the lived experience and heritage of the Collective. Their storytelling is centred on their experiences personally and professionally, their families’ journeys and their own research and interests.

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

Esme Ward, Manchester Museum Director:

“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.

Full programme

Friday 22 July

6:30 – 8:30pm, The Singh Twins - Jallianwala: Repression & Retribution

This is 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 23 July

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 open 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 OSCH (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.