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Festivals will link for a day of cultural experiences and celebration

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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Numerous events and activities have taken place showcasing culture and heritage during the Festival of Thetford and Punjab.

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

Held not only to celebrate the links between Thetford and the Punjab, it is 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 Suffolk and Norfolk.

Punjabi cooking demonstrations, talks about the Maharajah’s cultural legacy and talks by well-know people, including Bend It Like Beckham director, Gurinder Chadha, have been held.

The festival, organised by the Essex Cultural Diversity Project, will draw to a close on Saturday, July 21, when it merges with Thetford Town Council’s annual River Festival to create a unique event.

Held on the green at Thetford Riverside, there will be paddling, canoeing, duck races, arts and crafts, henna painting, Punjabi food stalls, turban tying and story telling activities exploring the Maharajah and his family.

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

A procession will start at the top of King Street at 12pm and will walk through the town centre to the riverside.

There will be a collaboration involving the Jugnu Bhangra group and Morris dancers, and there will also be Bhangra Dhol Drummers and demonstrations of the Sikh martial arts Gatka.

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The Jugnu Bhangra Dancers, dressed in their traditional folk Punjabi costume, will be performing at the Thetford & Punjab Festival. Picture:  Essex Cultural Diversity ProjectThe Jugnu Bhangra Dancers, dressed in their traditional folk Punjabi costume, will be performing at the Thetford & Punjab Festival. Picture: Essex Cultural Diversity Project

“Over all there has been very positive feedback from everyone,” said festival director Indi Sandhu.

“The response has been overwhelming and it has gone really well, more than we expected. The finale will just bring everybody together for a big cultural celebration.”

The town’s Ancient House Museum is also hosting an exhibition which marks the 125th anniversary of the death of the Maharajah.

At the unveiling (l-r) Karen Brame, Lord Walsingham, Gez Shetal, Mayor of Thetford Roy Brame and Peter Bance. Picture: Peter BanceAt the unveiling (l-r) Karen Brame, Lord Walsingham, Gez Shetal, Mayor of Thetford Roy Brame and Peter Bance. Picture: Peter Bance

On loan from National Museums Scotland, The Casualty of War depicts the two cultures – British and Punjabi – which shaped the life of Duleep Singh.

The colourful painting, by renowned British Sikh artists The Singh Twins, will be hosted at the museum until December 1.

The combined festivals will run from 12pm until 6pm on Saturday.

For more information on the remaining festival events and for tickets visit the Leaping Hare website or call 01842 751975.

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