Gujarati Yatra exhibition documents journey of Gujarati people

A new exhibition documenting the journey made by the Gujarati people from India to the UK through their personal objects and stories opens in Croydon in November.

Gujarati Yatra: Journey of a people tells the stories of the individuals and communities who made the journey from their original homeland in Gujarat, on the west coast of India, to Africa, and finally on to Britain.

Oral histories and a collection of personal objects also reveal the art, language, literature, food and religion of the Gujarati people and how these were preserved and adapted in different cultures.

The free exhibition, which opens at the Museum of Croydon on November 14, has been inspired by Subrang Arts, a Croydon-based Gujarati community organisation.

It includes a sari exhibition and a visually stunning display of contemporary embroidery, hand stitched by members of Subrang Arts. Inspired by Gujarat’s rich history of embroidery, each piece has a distinct style and has been crafted using different stitches and techniques.

The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has been curated by community activist Lata Desai and ethnomusicologist and oral historian Rolf Killius, in partnership with the Museum of Croydon.

It is particularly timely, as 2017 marks a major bilateral year of cultural exchange between the UK and India, exploring the joint history of the two countries.

Lata Desai, co-curator, said: “We spent many months collecting the stories of members of the Gujarati community and working with them to create the exhibition and events programme.

“In this way the Gujarati community has co-curated the exhibition. Their stories give a fascinating insight into the history and diversity of the Gujarati people and their cultural identity.”

Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure, and sport, added: “I’m really pleased the council has been able to help support this project and that the Museum of Croydon will be hosting such a vibrant exhibition.

“It’s so important for us to remember and celebrate the heritage of the many people who make up our community and this is a great way of allowing others to learn about the journey made by those who trace their origins back to Gujarat.”

Gujarati Yatra – Journey of a people opens at the Museum of Croydon on November 14 and runs until April 14, 2018. The exhibition is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30am-5pm (except public holidays) and entrance is free.

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