Despite being the seventh largest state in India by area and the eighth largest by population, Karnataka and by extension, the Kannadigas are under represented and tend to live anonymous life outside India.
But in the last decade, the Karnataka Diaspora in the UK is definitely on the surge. Today it is estimated that there are more than 15,000 NRIs from Karnataka state settled or living in the United Kingdom. Thanks to those prominent personalities and Kannada Organisations engaged actively promoting Kananda Language and Culture in the United Kingdom. KannadigaruUK (also known as KUK) over the last decade has been hosting Kannada Rajyotsava (Karnataka State Formation Day) every November inviting artists, known personalities from the home state as well as promoting local talents. Initiatives such as Kannada Kali (Learn Kannada) for the kids is indeed motivating many Karnataka people to participate actively in the community and contribute to its progress.
Recently, KanandigaruUK a community interest organisation celebrated Kannada Rajyotsava for the 12th time and it was another memorable day for Kannada community in the UK attended by nearly 700 people from all corners of UK. While speaking on the occasion, Shri Mattur Nandakumara from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, a prominent personality hails from Karnataka reminded the audience about the value of mother tongue and the bond and connection that every NRI has with their motherland.
Former mayor of London Borough of Lambeth and community medical doctor, Dr Neeraj Patil is widely popular amongst the UK Kannada Community. Dr Neeraj Patil conceived the idea of having a statue of 12th century social reformer Basaveshwara on the banks of river Thames in London. Dr Patil invited Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to unveil the statue in Novemebr 2015. Basaveshwara is the first Kannadiga in whose honour the statue is installed in London. Today, Basaveshwara Statue is a landmark that holds special place in the hearts of every Kannadiga.
There are many individuals from various fields spreading the richness of Karnataka and representing NRI community in the United Kingdom. When it comes to key festivals like Yugadi, Diwali and Sankranthi, it is more common these days that people of Karnataka living in different regions of UK coming together to celebrate with their friends and families. Kannadigas in UK are also very well represented in the NRI Forum Karnataka and within UK based forums like British South Indians.
It is also worth to note that for the first time Karnataka was well represented at the Indian Independence day celebration in London and traditional form of dances such as “Yakshagana” and folk dances were performed as part of the Independence Day cultural event.
In the coming years there will be more and more opportunities for UK Kannadigas to get actively engaged in the field of business, art, culture and tourism. I sincerely hope that the Kananda Community in UK grows strong in the near future.