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Thetford and Punjab Festival kicks off

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

Saturday 7th June 2018

Reporting from Ancient Houses Museum Thetford and the Guildhall.

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


Launch of the exhibition at Ancient Houses Museum, Thetford

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. 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.”

The Sikh exhibition was launched at Ancient Houses Museum where the fascinating portrait of Duleep Singh was unveiled by the Singh Twins. This was together with the Sikh Museum Initiative having their digital Sikh relics on display via their Touchscreen monitor.

The Singh Twins with their portrait of Maharaja Duleep Singh, on loan from the National Museum Of Scotland

Later in the day a special lecture by SMI’s Gurinder Singh Mann and Taranjit Singh took place considering the different Sikh relics and artefacts in the UK, showing how items came from the Punjab and which institutions they were in now. This was together with a look how technology can be used to preserve and create objects. On display was a number of 3d printed objects which the participants were able to learn more more about.

Taranjit Singh and Gurinder Singh Mann answering questions on preserving Sikh history through technology.

More information on the festival can be found here
Original report  by Thetford and Brandon Times with additional reporting by the SMI.

Photos courtesy of Essex Cultural Diversity Project and the SMI.

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