History of heritage

AshtThe Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail is a unique endeavour & effort to bring history & cultures together

It’s a call for using history as a guide for our future, an attempt to recall our roots, a mission to bring history and culture together, and a trail to highlight the marginalized topic of shared heritage between Britain and the Sikh community. “If lions do not tell their story, history would be written by hunters,” Harbinder Singh, Honorary Director, Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail (ASHT), UK, sums up the essence of the thought and philosophy of ASHT, a project of the Maharajah Duleep Singh Centenary Trust, established in ‘93.

Here for a lecture on Punjab Annexation and Beyond, a collaborative effort of Sikhpoint.com and ASHT, Singh shared the trail’s guiding principle, highlighting the topic of shared heritage between Britain and the Sikh community and how this heritage can be used to transcend differences and promote a harmonious future for generations based on commonality. “The heritage of Sikhs is reflected at so many places in Britain and our activities are based on research and education about sites and objects of Anglo Sikh heritage and making them publicly accessible,” Singh talks about their work of over 15 years.

History and fate work in funny ways, believes Singh and the need of the hour is to discover our heritage for future generations, to preserve, make it grow and reconnect with it and the work includes a series of initiatives — the Arts of the Sikh Kingdoms exhibition, annual Portrait of Courage lecture, the unveiling of a bronze statue of Maharaja Duleep Singh, the first major piece of Sikh art outside India, the annual Raag Darbar (revival of the kirtan tradition) et al.

“The story of Duleep Singh touches everyone. He was the first Sikh settled in the UK and his identity crisis, struggles, tragedy is the story of all of us. Heritage is a trigger that gives our younger generation a sense of ownership in Britain. And another of our projects is the battlefield tours, where this time, we will be touring England, France and Scotland. We have a history in London and these tours will highlight our contribution on the battlefield,’’ adds Singh.

Another highlight of the afternoon was a glimpse of the 2009 Sikhpoint.com Calendar, titled A Walk Through History. Created in collaboration with The Maharajah Duleep Singh Centenary Trust, it explores places and artefacts around Britain connected with shared aspects of Anglo Sikh heritage. Leaf through the pages from January to December and there is a showcase of marvellous art, artefacts, monuments and locations identified by researchers at the Trust as being relevant to Sikh history.

The Golden Throne of the Sikh Emperor Maharaja Ranjit Singh, coat of arms of his son Maharaja Duleep Singh, archive photos of Sikhs serving in World War I and II, Sikh coins and medals from the British Museum Collections, Durbar Hall designed by Sikh architect Bhai Ram Singh for Queen Victoria’s holiday home Osbourne House, the brief write-ups complementing each image gives a history to the image. Indeed, a walk down memory lane!.

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