Welcome to the Kashmiri Arts & Heritage Foundation
Celebrating Culture, Heritage, Arts and Community
About the Foundation and our work
The Kashmiri Arts & Heritage Foundation works on behalf of and in coalition with the voluntary, private and public sector to galvanise, promote and celebrate Kashmiri Arts, heritage and culture in England within the framework of celebrating cultural diversity and promoting active citizenship.
The Kashmiri Arts & Heritage Foundation has three overarching aims and objectives:
• To promote and create opportunity for the development and preservation of Kashmiri arts, culture and heritage in England focussing on young people and the elderly
• To foster positive relationships with other natural stakeholders within both the Kashmiri community and public, private and voluntary sector.
• To recognise and promote the collective responsibility of the Kashmiri community and others to work towards the celebration of cultural diversity and promotion of active citizenship using the strength of Kashmiri culture and its inclusive nature to supplement this initiative.
The foundation is a voluntary arts and heritage organisation established in Birmingham in order to promote Kashmiri arts, heritage and culture to the widest possible audience in Britain, particularly through music, art, film and other popular mediums.
Kashmir - Paradise on Earth
"If there is a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.”
- Mughal Emperor Jehangir on Kashmir
Kashmir is a region of widely varying people and geography. Kashmir in its current form denotes a larger area that includes the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir (which consists of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh), the Pakistan-administered autonomous territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit– Baltistan, and the Chinese-administered regions of Aksai Chin and the Trans- Karakoram Tract.
Nature has lavishly endowed Kashmir with certain distinctive features that are paralleled by few alpine regions in the world. It is the land of snow clad mountains that shares a common boundary with Afghanistan, China and Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of the Indian Union. Known for its extravagant natural beauty this land formed a major caravan route in ancient times.
The former princely state of Kashmir became a disputed territory in 1947, in the aftermath of India and Pakistan's independence. Though these regions are in practice administered by their respective claimants, neither India nor Pakistan has formally recognised the accession of the areas claimed by the other. The people of Kashmir are still yet to have a referendum on the matter.
Kashmiri’s in the United Kingdom
Around 70% of British Pakistanis can trace their origins to the city of Mirpur and its surrounding areas such as Bagh, Muzaffarabad, Rawalakot, Neelum, Bhimber and Kotli in Azad Kashmir, northeastern Pakistan.
Mirpuri and Potohari, spoken natively by Mirpuri Kashmiri immigrants, figure among the most commonly spoken languages of the British Pakistani community after English.
Migration from Mirpur and its adjacent areas started soon after the second world war as the majority of the male population of this area and the surrounding regions worked in the British armed forces, as well as to fill labour shortages in industry. But the mass migration phenomenon accelerated in the 1960s when for improving water supply, the Mangla Dam project was built in the area, flooding the surrounding farmlands. Many thousands of Mirpuris (a large number having been displaced) resettled in Britain.
The Kashmiri contribution to the UK
More Mirpuri Kashmiris joined their relatives in Britain after availing government compensation and liberal migration policies. Cities with a large concentration of Kashmiris are Manchester, Bradford, Birmingham, Leeds and Luton. Today, there are an estimated 700,000 Kashmiris residing in the UK. The Mirpuri community has made significant economic progress over the years. In almost all the major UK cities there is a sizeable Mirpur which owns restaurants, shops and taxi bases to small and medium sized manufacturing units, wholesalers and importers to legal and financial firms.
After the economic hardships faced by the first generation of Mirpuri Kashmiri immigrants, third and fourth generation Kashmiris are moving fast into new fields of science, technology, arts and education, politics and law with a record number of Kashmiri youths taking admissions in a host of different universities.