Norfolk town prepares to host Punjab festival with colourful celebration

PUBLISHED: 12:05 06 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:05 06 June 2019

Festival of Punjab Parade in Thetford. Picture: Essex Cultural Diversity Project

Festival of Punjab Parade in Thetford. Picture: Essex Cultural Diversity Project


A Norfolk town is gearing up for the return of a festival celebrating the county’s link with the last royal family of an area in India.

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh. Picture: Essex Cultural Diversity ProjectPrincess Sophia Duleep Singh. Picture: Essex Cultural Diversity Project

The Festival of Norfolk and Punjab launches on Saturday, June 15 and Norfolk Museums are ready to celebrate with a programme of colourful events and talks.

It is led by the Essex Cultural Diversity Project and is a countywide celebration of the life and achievements of the Duleep Singh family and their contribution to Norfolk.

The 'Duleep Singhs', the last Royal family of the Punjab, were associated with Norfolk for almost a century.

Highlights include a special exhibition and events at Ancient House Museum, a Maharajah's Feast at Elveden Village Hall, tours, workshops and family events at Norwich Castle and the Museum of Norwich, and a grand finale at the Thetford Mela with a range of colourful and vibrant performances by artists from India, Norfolk and the UK.

Prince R Frederick Duleep Singh 1895. Picture: Essex Cultural Diversity ProjectPrince R Frederick Duleep Singh 1895. Picture: Essex Cultural Diversity Project

Indi Sandhu, artistic director of the Essex Cultural Diversity Project, said "It's been exciting to develop and expand the festival which went down so well with audiences last year.

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"We're delighted to be working again with Norfolk Museums Service, this time across the county, to connect audiences with the objects and stories which illuminate this incredibly important family in Norfolk's history.

"Alongside events celebrating the cuisine and culture of the Punjab, Norfolk audiences can look forward to a feast for both the body and the mind."

Prince Frederick Duleep Singh founded Ancient House Museum in Thetford and saved many local churches from closure by raising funds and supporting renovation works.

He was also a collector, amassing a collection of books and portraits about the county, later donated to the borough of Thetford.

John Ward, chairman of Norfolk County Council Joint Museums Committee, said: "We're delighted the Duleep Singh family are beginning to receive the recognition they deserve and are proud the museums aervice is playing a part in bringing their story to a wider public."

Steve Miller, head of museums at the National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: "It's wonderful to be part of such a diverse programme which will bring new audiences into our museums."

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