Between 18 July and 17 August, Oxford City Council is proudly supporting South Asian Heritage Month.
This year is the 75th anniversary of Indian independence and the creation of Pakistan. Many in Oxford’s South Asian community can trace their heritage back to India and Pakistan, but the region also includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
The Museum of Oxford is collecting resident’s stories and pictures for its online City Stories collection, and this month would particularly welcome contributions from the South Asian community.
The Museum is also looking ahead to its September exhibition, Image and Identity, which will present late nineteenth-century photographs of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) alongside similar period images from Oxford. A world-wide call-out for contributions has already launched, people can upload their photos from the period 1845-1930 on the exhibition’s digital collections page.
This year as part of the Community Grants scheme, the City Council has given funding towards projects for the South Asian community, including the Rose Hill Mela, a Hindu festival, and Oxfordshire Asian Women’s Voice, tackling social isolation.
The council’s social media channels will also be putting out a call for people of South Asian heritage to share the places in Oxford that are significant to them, whether it’s a place for learning, working, family or faith, or just a favourite spot. Popular places will be highlighted on an interactive map of Oxford.
“As a proud Oxonian of Pakistani heritage, I grew up with a detailed understanding of my identities and dual heritage. This was strengthened through my access to culture, sports - especially cricket - and the arts reflecting Pakistan and South Asia’s beauty and importance to the world. I was fortunate to learn about this at home and through my family visits to Pakistan during the school summer holidays.
“I want all young people to be proud of who they are and to know they belong and have the right to belong. Being inspired, and knowing and owning your stories, is vital to a young person achieving and honouring their talents and potential. I would like to encourage everyone from the South Asian community – across the generations - to share their stories with the Museum and the wider city.
“I hope our elders can share their pride in all they’ve contributed to Oxford, and the family stories that connect our city and the continent. Without them, my generation wouldn’t be here. They paved the way for British Pakistanis and South Asians like me. It’s vital that our stories are told by us and through our eyes – centring our voices and experiences, hopes and vision for the future. “
Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities