KASHI HOUSE CIC is a media and publishing social enterprise focused on the rich history and culture of the Sikhs and the Punjab region (in both India and Pakistan).
The company was originally established in 2006 to fill a sizeable gap in the book market, which is spread across India and in diaspora communities in North America, UK/Europe, South East Asia, East Africa and Australasia. Our core readership is typically characterised as affluent, well-educated and passionate about safeguarding its cultural inheritance for future generations.
As no specialist publisher existed to serve its needs, Kashi House was found as an apolitical, not-for-profit social enterprise to harness the huge potential in this market.
Our team is made up of British-born Sikhs who all share a passion for learning more about their rich cultural heritage. Our effectiveness stems from a combination of factors:
- decades of painstaking research that have led to great discoveries
- a deep appreciation of books as a stable technology for communicating ideas
- a passion for creative design and the possibilities it offers for reaching out to new readers
- wide-ranging professional experience
Growing up in the Britain of the 1970s and 80s, they were often disappointed by the dearth of decent resources that left many of their questions unanswered. This led each of them on a journey of discovery until their enthusiasm brought them together over a decade ago. They have since worked on a variety of web- and print-based projects as well as major exhibitions and lecture series. These experiences exposed them to a burgeoning global audience that was crying out for high-quality, affordable and authentic resources to connect them to their cultural heritage.
Whilst we began with the simple idea of getting useful information out to the masses in an accessible way, our aim evolved into something much bigger: the need to bring about a renaissance in cultural heritage.
We have come to realise that the most effective way of achieving this is to seed a creative media industry that serves our culture through world-class storytelling. Books, art prints, comics, plays, exhibitions, documentaries, computer games, films – we are working towards building these platforms in the years to come.
Over the past decade we have tested uptake with our books, primarily in the UK but also globally, and built a solid reputation of exceeding our readers’ expectations.
In 2016 we formally established Kashi House as a Community Interest Company (CIC), with the promise to carry on our activities – publish books, create other products and hold events exploring various aspects of Sikh and Punjabi history, arts and cultural heritage – in order to benefit the worldwide Sikh and Punjabi communities, as well as anyone else interested in their history, arts and cultural heritage.
With the help of industry partners, we are now poised to embark on the next phase of our ambitious plan to grow this market internationally. Our promise is to create books that earn your respect so that together we can discover, preserve and treasure a precious cultural heritage.
1. What is the origin of the name ‘Kashi’
In ancient literature and scripture, the Indian city of Varanasi (Benares) was often referred to poetically as Kashi―the ‘luminous’―an allusion to the city’s historical status as a centre of learning, literature and culture.
A second Kashi was founded in Punjab in 1706 by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru. Drawing inspiration from the Guru‘s scholarly legacy, Kashi House was founded exactly three centuries later to instil a thirst for knowledge of Sikh culture as well as the traditions of their ancestral homeland, Punjab (which was partitioned in 1947 between India and Pakistan).
2. What do we do with our profits
As a not-for-profit social enterprise, Kashi House CIC has no shares or shareholders. Thus, any profits earned are fully reinvested in future projects for the benefit of our audiences.
3. What is our ethos?
Our ethos is simple: to publish books that astonish, enrapture and inspire our readers. We believe in the power of a well-crafted book that nourishes the intellect, challenges norms and surprises with its hidden history.
4. What makes our work unique?
Our work brings together the following strands to create a unique offering:
I. RICH CONTENT
We are in the business of creating beautifully designed books covering hidden histories, spiritual and philosophical teachings, translations, classic texts, the artistic, architectural and military traditions of the region, and the many links with the empires of the Sikhs, Britain, the Mughals and the Afghans. We seek to provide unique insights into aspects of cultural heritage that have all but vanished, and highlight traditions that are on the brink of extinction.
II. ACCESS TO EXPERTS & KNOWLEDGE
Over the past 25 years, not only have we have undertaken our own research in collections around the world, we have also established excellent relationships with experts, private collectors and institutions to leverage their content and know-how. We intend to work with the talented authors (both established and new) to transform this wealth of information into books that would otherwise never see the light of day.
III. INSPIRATIONAL EXPERIENCE
By bringing to market ‘illuminating books that illuminate minds’, we want to stimulate meaningful discussion and debate among our current readership, and to continually attract new readers, both Sikh and non-Sikh alike.
IV. SUCCESSION PLANNING
Key to the success of our mission is to ensure that other teams will be formed to continue the work we have started. We believe it is responsibility to act as mentors to others, especially the young, who wish to develop their own expertise in the field of book publishing.