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Launch of festival celebrating cultural links between Punjab and region

The Jugnu Bhangra Dancers at the launch of the Festival of Thetford and Punjab. Picture: Maria Cooke

The Jugnu Bhangra Dancers at the launch of the Festival of Thetford and Punjab. Picture: Maria Cooke

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A festival celebrating the cultural link between Thetford and the Punjab has officially begun.

The launch of the Festival of Thetford and Punjab. Picture: Maria CookeThe launch of the Festival of Thetford and Punjab. Picture: Maria Cooke

Numerous events, activities and celebrations will be held during the two-week Festival of Thetford and Punjab, which will run until July 21.

It will also commemorate the 125 anniversary of the death of Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last King of the Punjab, who once owned Elveden Estate.

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Gurinder Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham, speaking at the launch of the festival. Picture: Maria CookeGurinder Chadha, director of Bend It Like Beckham, speaking at the launch of the festival. Picture: Maria Cooke

Some of the festival highlights include:

An evening with Sathnam Sanhera, the author of The Boy with the Topknot on July 13

In coversation with comedian and broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli on July 18

Casualty of War by the Singh Twins will be on show at an exhibition at Ancient House Museum. Picture: The Singh Twins www.singhtwins.co.uk /National Museums ScotlandCasualty of War by the Singh Twins will be on show at an exhibition at Ancient House Museum. Picture: The Singh Twins www.singhtwins.co.uk /National Museums Scotland

An open day of Breckles House, the home of Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, who was the son of the Maharajah, on July 17

Thetford Riverside On The Green presents sitar player Jonathan Mayer, on July 13

Organised by the Essex Cultural Diversity Project (ECDP), a £79,900 grant was awarded from the Heritage Lottery Fund to deliver the event.

Actor Satinder Sartaaj laying flowers on the grave of Duleep Singh in the churchyard at Elveden Church in 2017. Picture: Ian BurtActor Satinder Sartaaj laying flowers on the grave of Duleep Singh in the churchyard at Elveden Church in 2017. Picture: Ian Burt

The festival was officially launched on Saturday and included speeches from Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha and Sikh historian and biographer Peter Bance.

On the festival Gurinder said: “What is critical about the festival is at school I learnt about the Kings and Queens of England but I did not know about the Maharajah.

“It is a brilliant way for my kids to understand the connections of Britain with the Punjab.

The statue of last King of Punjab, Maharaja Duleep Singh in Thetford. Picture: Rebecca MurphyThe statue of last King of Punjab, Maharaja Duleep Singh in Thetford. Picture: Rebecca Murphy

“She added, it is a fantastic coming together of two places and cultures that you would not think connected, but are, and we can take pride in those connections.”

The Jugnu Bhangra Dancers also amazed the crowd with a stunning performance.

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Mr Sandhu said: “We are trying to raise awareness of the links between the Punjab and Thetford. They are both agricultural and the customs are very similar.

“People know the story of Duleep Singh, but they don’t always know which part of India he was born in.

“It will be an amazing festival.”

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Programmes can be found at various outlets around Thetford and online at the festival website.

Festival information and tickets are available through Leaping Hare or call 01842 751975

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