BPC Indian Community

For many years Dorset has seen communities from India settle and make the area their home.  With India such a vast and diverse country blessed with rich variety in culture, language, food and religion, many small groups emerged, often based on the local area people came from.  This meant there was no infrastructure or place to meet to celebrate special occasions.  Since 2018, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch Indian Community has been bringing people together to create a community group, welcoming everyone with Indian heritage and their families – and discovered a rich history hidden in plain sight.

Chairman, Ramesh Lal, told us: “Our focus is on what binds us and a love of Bollywood is a uniting force across the whole of India!  We started by running some small events which led us to have the first ever Asian radio show broadcast on a local radio station, Hot Radio, where we still host Bollywood Beats 9-10pm every Tuesday with chats in English and Hindi.  Initially the group was informal, but it has now grown and we have over 1200 families as active members.  We knew early on that to evolve we needed a structure and policies to support us.  CAN played a major role in guiding us through the process and helping us to customise all the aspects we needed to become a group with a constitution and defined roles.  I am grateful and admire the way CAN works with us.  The team has been crucial to helping us develop as we’ve taken on new roles.

When Covid-19 hit, we played an important part in getting vaccination information out in the community.  The group has grown and we now have sub-groups for meditation, poetry, local buy and sell, health panel and music.  It’s evolved into a community support group that’s very active on a daily on-going basis.  We also support new arrivals, helping them to access services and integrate into the local community.

We’ve been involved in a range of events including celebrating the forgotten history of Bournemouth Civic Centre, which when it was a hotel, was used as a hospital for the wounded Indian Army Soldiers during WW1.  More recently we’ve supported the successful Lottery Bid, led by CAN and recruitment which will help to strengthen ethnically diverse groups in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.”

This year the group is collaborating with the National Trust to hold a unique event  “Rang Barse” – Colours over Corfe Castle on Saturday 23 March 2024 at Corfe Castle.  It’s free entry, family event.  The festival “Holi’” is celebrated all over India to mark the arrival of Spring.  Music, dancing and colours are sprinkled with fun and merriment.  This is the first time this event will be held at such an iconic venue as Corfe Castle.  Other events include International Women’s Day, Diwali and being part of the World of Love Festival in June 2024.

Ramesh added: “We’ve come far but are excited about the future and aim to integrate more with the larger host community and Dorset mosaic.”

To get involved or find out more about BPC Indian Community Association Group visit www.bpcindiancommunity.co.uk or email: ramesh_lal@hotmail.com.