Knights of the Raj NYC

ON SHOW July 20 through August 5

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Knights of the Raj NYC is an immersive arts experience that beautifully captures the struggles and the stories behind the people who make up the largest Bangladeshi community in the United States, the people who brought curry to New York City restaurants. This timely window into a hidden world invites visitors to experience South Asian flavors while absorbing the deeply personal narratives that led Bengali migrants to New York. Step into another world as we explore how a group of often overlooked NYC restaurant pioneers journeyed from their homeland in Bangladesh to the UK's Brick Lane full of "curry houses" and New York's own Curry Hill to the Bangladeshi biryani carts and street food vendors seen today throughout Jackson Heights.

Visitors can expect:

  • An immersive arts, heritage, and culinary experience
  • Insight into deeply personal narratives directly from Bangladeshi migrants
  • Emotional tales of the quest for the American Dream
  • A three-course sampler menu of Bangladeshi food (Halal options will be available and non-alcoholic beverages will be served.)
  • Traditional Bangladeshi music juxtaposed with filmed interviews and archival footage from NYC (opening weekend only!)
  • A walk-in diorama
  • Gathered objects and other select furnishings from NYC’s Bangladeshi migrant community

Like many first generation immigrants, British street-artist and curator Mohammed Ali is on a quest to better understand his own identity and how people like his late father left their homelands on a quest to find a new life, taking with them their food and thereby transforming national cuisines and cultures.

In 2017, Mohammed embarked on a project unveiling the personal stories behind the transformation of Britain’s culture, cuisine, and society. Himself of Bangladeshi heritage, he was personally drawn to the stories of diaspora communities both in his home country of the UK and now in the US.

Mohammed Ali has teamed up with the Hip-Hop nonprofit Words Beats & Life to present a reimagined, multi-site version of Knights of the Raj throughout New York City, home to about half of the nearly 60,000 Bangladeshis who also collectively form the fastest growing Asian American subgroup in the United States.

Knights of the Raj NYC is part of a two-year initiative, “From Sifrs to Ciphers: Hip-Hop is Muslim,” and received generous support from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and the National Endowment for the Arts. Special thanks to our community supporters Jhal NYC , Bengali Harlem, and Vivek Bald.

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