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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Bradford South Asian Heritage Month kicks off this Saturday with both live and virtual events

Bradford South Asian Heritage Month celebrates the creativity, colour, spectacle, poetry, culinary magic, exuberance and entrepreneurial flair that define Bradford’s desi community.

Bradford South Asian Heritage Month returns from July 17 to August 22.

It’s the second year for the festival, which will launch this Saturday at Kala Sangam arts centre with the ‘Gigglewallahs!’ open mic comedy night hosted by BBC Radio 4 and Radio Leeds personality, writer and comedian Nick Ahad.

Bradford SAHM was initially inspired by the first national South Asian Heritage Month, a celebration of education, arts and culture which has the goal of helping people to better understand the diversity of present-day Britain, as well as improving levels of social cohesion between the various communities.


 Bradford SAHM is organised by Munaza Kulsoom, Uzma Kazi, Rahila Hussain, and Aisha Iqbal Khan.

Last year’s inaugural festival, held at the height of the Covid 19 lockdown, featured 24 virtual activities including a live cook-along, a storytelling night with people sharing personal tales and items from their heritage; a women’s cricket match special; a Q and A with Bradford crime writer A A Dhand, and a women’s forum, Brown Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

This year’s calendar includes a mix of live and virtual events, among them a hip-hop night featuring young South Asian performers,  poetry and dance showcases, a retrospective of the legendary Bradford Mela, a musical calligraphy event combining Islamic calligraphy with Sufi music influences, conversation sessions focusing on men’s and women’s mental health and issues like depression and menopause, cooking and sports sessions, and a young people’s forum, Young, Brown and Bradfordian.

The event will end on 22 August with a celebration of the Hindu and Sikh festival of Raksha Bandhan, which is about the importance of sibling bonds and protecting each other. Using the #HappyRakshaBandhanBradford hashtag, people will be encouraged to celebrate the importance of these values across communities and blood ties, brotherhood and sisterhood in all its forms. The day will also pay tribute to the Covid 19 frontline workers who have protected us all through recent challenging times.

SAHM celebrates the modern British South Asian identity.

The idea of Bradford South Asian Heritage Month, which is supported by Bradford Fringe, The Leap and the Bradford 2025 bid among others, is to promote the rich and vibrant contribution of South Asian diaspora communities to the life and identity of Bradford and to reach out to people regardless of background who are interested in South Asian culture but who might not normally engage with mainstream arts and culture.

Artists Munaza Kulsoom and Uzma Kazi, who are co-organisers of this year’s event, said: “We are delighted to be able to bring Bradford South Asian Heritage Month back. As life starts to get back to normal post-pandemic, arts and culture are going to play a huge part in making us all feel better collectively, and we are keen to reflect that sense of moving forward with our packed calendar this year.

“This will be a month-long celebration of the culture, history, diversity and creativity of the UK’s South Asian diaspora communities, viewed through the lens of Bradford and its people.

“Bradford South Asian Heritage Month 2021 will celebrate and appreciate the creativity, colour, spectacle, poetry, culinary magic, exuberance and entrepreneurial flair that define Bradford’s ‘desi’ contingent, and will help reclaim Bradford’s story in the process. 

There will be a mix of live and virtual events throughout the month.

“It will also spotlight important social issues by offering safe spaces for discussion. Ultimately, it’s about harnessing the untapped grassroots creative energy and cultural capital in Bradford’s South Asian diaspora and using it to reach out, build bridges, share experiences and knowledge and help our communities understand each other better.

“As Bradford gets ready to submit its bid for UK city of culture 2025, the importance of South Asian heritage to Bradford’s overall story and creative potential cannot be underestimated.”

For more details and a full calendar of events, follow Bradford SAHM on Facebook and Twitter, or email Bradford.sahm@gmail.com.

Image credit: Shaheen Khan/ Shine Photography.

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