Sikh soldier exhibition a major hit in New Zealand

Wellington, New Zealand  | 7 May 2017 | Asia Samachar |
VALOUR: Honour & Duty: A Tribute to Sikh Valour’ photo exhibition curator Harchand Singh Bedi (right) with (L-R) Dr Anoop Singh Bedi of Sikh Foundation New Zealand, Wellinton City Councillor Diane Calvert and Wellington Mayor Justin Lester. The exhibition was displayed at the Wellington Central Library from 11-27 April 2017 – PHOTO / SUPPLIED

An exhibition on Sikh soldiers in World Wars I & II and the Battle of Saragarhi – curated by Malaysian researcher Harchand Singh Bedi – attracted some 7,000 visitors in New Zealand recently.

The ‘Honour & Duty: A Tribute to Sikh Valour’ photo exhibition that most of the photographs are from the archives of the Imperial War Museum in Elephant and Castle, London.

“The exhibition generated a lot of interest among the local population in Wellington,”

Dr Anoop Singh Bedi of Sikh Foundation New Zealand, the organizer of the exhibition, said in a statement sent to Asia Samachar.

Held at the Wellington Central Library from 11-27 April 2017, The exhibition was sponsored by the British High Commission, Wellington, Nikau Foundation and Multicultural Council of Wellington.

The exhibition coincided with WW100 commemorations and the Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”.

Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Launched in Malaysia in 2007, the photographic exhibition promises viewers a rare glimpse into Sikh military contributions all over the world from the late 18th century onwards. It includes previously unseen black and white photographs of Sikh soldiers who served in Malaya, Singapore, Burma(Myanmar), Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Korea, the Middle East Africa and Europe.

In the statement, Dr Anoop said the combined casualties Sikhs suffered during both the world wars were 83,000 killed and 109,000 wounded. In total Sikh regiments received more than 1,500 gallantry awards. He added that over 40 Indians were awarded the Victoria Cross.

About Anzac Sikhs and Punjabis, Manjit Singh Grewal of Sikh Foundation New Zealand said there were 18 Anzac Sikhs; four from New Zealand and 14 from Australia. Out of the 15 who went into combat, three (one from New Zealand and two from Australia) were killed in various battles.

During the exhibition, the statement said Harchand interacted with around a thousand visitors providing them with further historical details whilst the exhibition in general was visited by more than seven thousand people during this period.

With the support of New Zealand India Research Institute, the foundation also organised a lecture by Prof Peter Stanley from University of New South Wales (Canberra campus) on ‘Sikhs in Gallipoli’ at Victoria University of Wellington on 26 April.

VALOUR: Honour & Duty: A Tribute to Sikh Valour’ photo exhibition curator Harchand Singh Bedi (right) at Wellington Central Library in April 2017 – PHOTO / SUPPLIED

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