Pic: Luke Vance Barr
With Croydon competing for the 2019 London Borough of Culture, a new exhibition documenting the journey of Gujarati people to the UK has recently gone on show in the town centre this month.
The Gujarati Yatra exhibition displays the personal objects and stories of Gujarati people who made the tough trip from the west coast of India during the 20th century.
The Gujarati diaspora initially made their way to the east coast of Africa before a large proportion settled in different parts of England during the 1960s and 70s.
Croydon’s population is incredibly diverse and heavily made up of Indians whose roots stem from the region.
Having spent months collecting personal stories from many Gujarati natives, project curator and activist Lata Desai highlighted the exhibition’s importance within the local community, stressing that it will create “a sense of identity and belonging” for all those involved.
She said: “Their stories give a fascinating insight into the history and diversity of the Gujarati people and their cultural identity.
Croydon has been through some very difficult times after the riots, although it is now promoting itself to be a Borough of Culture for 2019.”
Key points of the exhibition also include a focus on the skilled art of embroidery and also Sari making.
The project, inspired by Subrang Arts, received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Croydon Councillor for Selhurst, Timothy Godfrey, has praised the latest cultural addition to the borough. The cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport said: “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.”
“For a migrant group, the opportunity to maintain links to their country and culture of origin is simply part of the process of living in a host country.”
The exhibition at the Croydon Clocktower on Katharine Street runs until April 14 next year.