Colourful festival celebration of links between Thetford and Punjab
- Credit: Essex Cultural Diversity Project
A colourful cultural celebration of one of Norfolk’s most unique pieces of history brought the crowds to the streets of Thetford.
Numerous events and activities have taken place over the past fortnight showcasing culture and heritage during the Festival of Thetford and Punjab which culminated in the Grand Finale and Thetford River Festival on Saturday.
The event has been held not only to celebrate the links between Thetford and the Punjab and provide an opportunity for people to learn more about the Maharajah Duleep Singh.
The last King of the Punjab lived and owned the Elveden Estate and his children also made a lasting impact on the communities in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Hundreds of people watched a colourful procession along King Street along to Butten Island and the statue of Maharajah Duleep Singh, and then along the Little Ouse river.
Crowds then packed Riverside which was resplendent with colourful silk banners for a multi-cultural programme featuring the UK’s leading tradtional Punjbi dance troupe Jugnu Bhangra Dancers, local Morris dance groups, King Gurcharan Mall Dhol Blasters, Rani Giddha female dancers and Ghatka Punjabi Sikh martial arts.
The event also featured storytelling by Seema Anand, Indian food, henna hand painting before the finale Folk Dance Remixed.
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The festival, organised by the Essex Cultural Diversity Project, merged with Thetford Town Council’s annual River Festival that includes paddling, canoeing and duck races.
“It was absolutely amazing with lots of colour and vibrancy. So many local people as well as people who had travelled from Sikh communities as far afield as Southall, Leicester, Birmingham and Gravesend,” said festival director Indi Sandhu.
“It was a real family atmosphere with people locals and visitors talking to one another and all ages getting having picnics and dancing.
“All the events over the two weeks have been great, such a variety, from authors to workshops, well attended and people keen to learn more about this history.”