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HEAD EAST – Festival of East Anglia and Punjab

The festival of East Anglia and Punjab, explores the cultural links between the two regions through the story and legacy of Maharajah Duleep Singh and the last royal family of the Punjab, who lived in Norfolk

2022, marks the 75th Anniversary of India and Pakistan independence, and the Partition that divided Punjab into two halves, and when the once vast Kingdom of Duleep Singh was separated between two nations.

Over ten days, with events taking place across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, the Festival of East Anglia & Punjab will bring communities together to share cultures, customs and traditions through heritage and the arts. With a wide range of activities planned, from melas, music and performances, to talks, food and family events, the festival will have something for everyone, appealing to people of all ages and from different backgrounds.

Highlights include an exhibition about Princess Catherine Duleep Singh and an exciting programme of events at Ancient House Museum in Thetford; an exhibition on Maharajah Duleep Singh at the Norfolk Record Office showcasing original artefacts from the Bance Collection; and The Singh Twins: Slaves of Fashion exhibition at Firstsite in Colchester.

Also for 2022, work has gone into developing and expanding the East of England Heritage Trail, themed around places of interest related to the Duleep Singh family, available to everyone to explore and enjoy at their leisure. New additions include the resting place of Indian Princess Helen Rundeer Singh Ahluwalia of Kapurthala (Punjab) in Doddinghurst in Essex.

PROGRAMME FOR FESTIVAL OF EAST ANGLIA AND PUNJAB

EXHIBITIONS

 

MAHARAJAH DULEEP SINGH: NORFOLK’S PRINCELY FAMILY

An exhibition exploring the lives of this extraordinary family, with artefacts & objects loaned from the renowned collection of Peter Bance.

Over 150 years ago the last Emperor of the Punjab, Maharajah Duleep Singh made East Anglia his home when he purchased the Elveden Estate near Thetford on the Norfolk-Suffolk border. For a century his family continued to reside in the region, from Old Buckenham, Hockwold, Blo’ Norton, Breckles and Walcot.

The family’s legacy is still present today, from the Ancient House Museum, which was donated by Prince Frederick, to the numerous Norfolk churches he saved from closure and restored. He went on to join the Norfolk Yeomanry and later served in the First World War, and even erected War Memorials for those who fell. The Princesses were not only active Suffragists supporting the rights for women to vote but the youngest Sophia, belonged to the renowned Suffragettes, and gave a gift of over 200 portraits of Norfolk worthies to the Town of Thetford from the family collection.

This exhibition looks at the lives of this extraordinary family, with artefacts and objects loaned from the renowned collection of Peter Bance who has spent 25 years amassing this largely unseen archive which will go on display for the first time. Highlights include the Maharajah’s velvet Indian Jacket, his Purdey shotgun with which he shot thousands of game at his Elveden Shooting parties with the Prince of Wales, textiles and wearing apparel of the Princesses, the family ’s photograph albums and personal intimate letters.

On 6 July, there will be an in-person talk / live stream online – hybrid event, to complement this Duleep Singh Family exhibition to be given by eminent author, Peter Bance. See below under Talks.

FREE to attend. To find out more click here
Norfolk Record Office, Archive Centre, Martineau Lane, Norwich (Runs till 30 Sept)

 

THE SINGH TWINS: SLAVES OF FASHION

The Singh Twins: Slaves of Fashion, explores narratives around Empire, enslavement, luxury consumerism, and the contemporary relevance of all these issues in our world today, through the colonial history of Indian textiles.
Supported by Essex Cultural Diversity Project, The Singh Twins: Slaves of Fashion showcases artworks by the internationally renowned artists, which focus on the relationship between Britain and India, hidden details of Europe’s colonial past and its legacies, including current debates around ethical trade, responsible consumerism and decolonisation and racism.

Primarily known for their hand-painted work in a modern development of the Indian miniature tradition, The Singh Twins’ latest work combines traditional hand-painting techniques with historical archival material and digitally created imagery.

The Singh Twins: Slaves of Fashion part of the Festival of East Anglia & Punjab 1-10 July 2022.

FREE to attend. To find out more click here
Firstsite, Lewis Gardens, High Street, Colchester, Essex (Runs till 11 September)

 

PRINCESS CATHERINE EXHIBITION

Ancient House, Thetford with Peter Bance, Sikh historian and collector have launched a new exhibition marking the life of Princess Catherine Duleep Singh on the 150th anniversary of her birth.

The display will be in the Hall of the Ancient House and will feature a newly commissioned portrait of Princess Catherine by Sikh contemporary artist InkQuisitive.

Also on display will be photographs, letters, Indian textiles and tiles, which help tell the Princess’s story. Princess Catherine was a member of the royal family that had ruled the Sikh Empire of Punjab, northern India before it became part of the British Empire in 1849.

To find out more and to book tickets click here
Ancient House Museum, Thetford (Runs till 10 July)

 

LAHORE COPPER AND BRASS

Pakistani metal work predominantly uses copper, brass and bronze with geometric and floral designs formed by chasing, engraving, and casting the various metals.

Most of the copper and brass objects on display are from the Kasera Bazaar in Lahore, which is famous for its metalwork. Domestic copper and brass items are usually tinned, or lined with tin plate, as copper reacts with acidic foods and can make the food taste unpleasant, as well as occasionally causing mild poisoning. The tinning process is known as qalai.

FREE to attend. To find out more click here
South Asia Collection Museum, Norwich. (Permanent collection)

 

GLOBAL VILLAGE AND THETFORD MELA

Join one of these celebrations to discover flavours of music, storytelling and performance and an opportunity to experience culture, colour and music from around the world from Africa, Brazil, Rajasthan – culminating in the Thetford Mela which celebrates a UK fusion of India and Pakistan in this, the 75th anniversary of Partition through the heart of Punjab.

Global Village at Streets Alive, Chelmsford High Street, Essex
To find out more click here. (Runs 2 July)

Global Village at Streets Alive, Hadleigh Country Park, Essex
To find out more click here. (Runs 3 July)

Thetfest – featuring CIRCUS RAJ
To find out more click here (Runs 9 July)

 

THETFORD MELA: FESTIVAL OF EAST ANGLIA & PUNJAB FINALE

All are welcome to the grand finale of the Festival of East Anglia & Punjab which will take place on Thetford Green near the statue of Maharajah Duleep Singh at Butten Island. Enjoy a range of exciting activities and performances, including Epika Dance, Bollywood Sparkles, Jugnu Bhangra Group, international renowned Dj Balli Kalsi from the Netherlands, and Sikh martial arts displays by Baba Fateh Singh Akar.

There will also be Henna Hand painting, book stalls, food stall, colourful Silk River Flags by Kinetika. We are also hosting Cookery Theatre with authentic Punjabi cooking demos by Nisha Tandon & Nabeela Yasin-Iannelli from the ArtsEkta, Northern Ireland, and food by Safina Karim supported by Local Flavours.

To find out more click here
Thetford Green, Norfolk (Runs 10 July)

 

 

TALKS AND LECTURES

GUIDED TOUR: WEST STOW HALL AND PRINCE FREDERICK

For a unique guided tour and tea at West Stow Hall, which dates back to the late 15th century as part of the Festival of East Anglia & Punjab.

The Hall includes a number of historic and interesting rooms, including one containing a wall painting of the four ages of man dating from 1580. Prince Frederick Duleep Sing led an excursion of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History to the house on 1st August 1901 and the tour will include his account of his visit along with an explanation of Frederick’s views on the restoration of Suffolk Churches. Tea, coffee, cakes and samosas served afterwards.

To find out more and to book tickets click here
West Stow Hall, Suffolk (Runs 5 July from 2pm till 4pm)

 

TALK: MAHARAJAH DULEEP SINGH: NORFOLK’S INDIAN ROYALS

An enthralling talk both in person and online, to complement the Norfolk Archive Centre’s new exhibition on the Duleep Singh family, to be given by the eminent author Peter Bance on the life of East Anglia’s most famous Royals who lived at Elveden, Old Buckenham, Breckles, and Blo Norton.

Prince Duleep Singh was only 11 years old when his kingdom of Punjab was annexed by the East India Company and surrendered the famous Kohinoor diamond. He was exiled to England where he chose East Anglia as his home and where his family resided for almost a century.

Peter Bance will be sure to keep you captivated with anecdotes of the Duleep Singh’s with unseen Victorian photography from the family’s personal albums and give an insight to this fascinating family of Historians, Archaeologists, philanthropists to Suffragettes. A talk not to be missed!

Norfolk Record Office, Tuesday 6 July at 1pm
To find out more and to book tickets to the in-person event, click here
To find out more and to book tickets to join the online event, click here

 

TALK: MAHARAJAH DULEEP SINGH: NORFOLK’S INDIAN ROYALS BY PETER BANCE

Peter Bance will share anecdotes of the Duleep Singh Family, and present unseen Victorian photography from the family’s personal albums, giving an insight to this fascinating family of Historians, Archaeologists, philanthropists and Suffragettes.

Free to attend, to find out more and book spaces click here
Elveden Hall, Near Thetford. (Runs Tuesday 6 July at 7pm)

 

ANCIENT HOUSE – EVENTS

Explore Ancient House Museum founded by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, meet costumed characters and enjoy exhibitions about Maharajah Duleep Singh and Princess Catherine Duleep Singh. Find out about the Norfolk Regiment and the Maharajah during the Anglo-Sikh Wars, and the Duleep Singh family who lived at Elveden Hall.

HISTORY MYSTERY: WHO WAS MAHARAJAH DULEEP SINGH REALLY?

Join Ancient House Museum for an immersive experience exploring the life of Maharajah Duleep Singh.

Visitors will meet costumed characters, get hands on with real historical artefacts and explore documents, photographs and paintings to discover more about Maharajah Duleep Singh’s life and experiences.

This family friendly event draws on brand new research conducted as part TORCH from Oxford University. Meet Dr Priya Atwal Sikh researcher and take advantage of a 25% discount by pre-ordering a copy of ‘Royals and Rebels: The Rise and Fall of the Sikh Empire’ (£18.75 – only for pre-booked) to be collected from the museum.

Free to attend. To find out more and book tickets click here
Ancient House, Thetford, Norfolk (Runs Sat 2 July from 10am)

 

THE NORFOLK REGIMENT AND PARTITION

Meet costumed characters to discover how the Norfolk Regiment was involved in the end of Empire in India. Also learn about the Commonwealth War Graves commemorating Indian service men at Thetford cemetery.

Free to attend. To find our more and to book spaces, click here
Ancient House, Thetford, Norfolk (Runs 9 July)

 

TALK: STREETS OF LONDON, STORIES FROM PUNJAB BY RAV SINGH

 

Researcher, Rav Singh, founder of A little History of the Sikhs, presents an illustrated talk of artefacts from the early 19th century Kingdom of Lahore in Punjab that can be found in London, and will weave together stories that will take us through London, across the United Kingdom and cities across Western Europe.

Free to attend. To find out more and book your space click here
Ancient House, Thetford, Norfolk (Runs 9 July)

 

TALK: THE RISE OF THE SIKH SOLDIER BY GURINDER SINGH MANN

Gurinder Singh Mann, Director of the Sikh Museum Initiative, will talk about the inspirations for his new book The Rise of the Sikh Soldier – as part of the Festival of East Anglia and Punjab.

The book considers the rise of the Sikh Soldier from the eighteenth century through to Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Sikh Empire, the consideration of Sikh warfare during the Anglo Sikh Wars leading to the employment of the Sikhs into the British Indian Army. Underrepresented female warriors like Sahib Kaur and Sada Kaur are also given coverage to reflect their importance in Sikh history. The book is supplemented with maps of battles, rare military images, relics and artefacts together with the appendices citing important documents and letters.

Signed copies of Gurinder’s book will be available to purchase on the evening or pre-order and receive a 25% discount on the cover price – just £16.46 to be collected from the museum (can be posted for the digital audience).
This event is available to both in-person (limited spaces, booking essential via Festival box office) and to a digital audience.

Free to attend. To find out more and book your in-person or online space click here
Ancient House, Thetford, Norfolk (Runs 9 July from 6pm till 7.30pm)

 

ANCIENT HOUSE FINALE DAY OF THE FESTIVAL OF EAST ANGLIA & PUNJAB

A packed agenda exploring the cultural links between East Anglia and Punjab through the story and legacy of Maharajah Duleep Singh and the last royal family of the Punjab, who lived in Norfolk.

Ancient House and The Sikh Museum Initiative will display their digital exhibition, which allows users to interact with 3D Sikh relics and artifacts. The repository of relics includes Sikh arms and armour, jewellery, flags, and other material heritage.

For a taster visit www.anglosikhmuseum.com

Free to attend. To find out more and book your space click here
Ancient House, Thetford, Norfolk (Runs 10 July)

 

NOT JUST BOOKS – EVENTS

TALK: THE EXECUTION OF BHAGAT SINGH LEGAL HERESIES OF THE RAJ

Join author Satvinder Singh Juss as he shares insights into his book The Execution of Bhagat Singh Legal Heresies of the Raj, as part of the Festival of East Anglia & Punjab.

Bhagat Singh was an Indian nationalist considered to be one of the most influential revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement. His reputation has outshone all participants in the struggle up to and almost including Mahatma Gandhi. Upon first hearing it, this seems incredible. He was only twenty-three when executed on the charge of murder, having already received a life sentence for bombing the Central Assembly in Delhi. But it must be remembered that pre-independence India had two rival approaches to the quest for freedom.

FREE to attend. To find out more and book your seat, click here
Not Just Books, Thetford, Norfolk (Runs 10 July 1:30 to 2:30pm)

 

TALK: PRINCESSES, SPIES AND THE SUFFRAGETTE BY SUFIYA AHMED

A talk by Sufiya Ahmed, award-winning children’s and YA author, on princesses, action, adventure and resistance. Sufiya will share the stories of Sophia Duleep Singh and Noor-Un-Nissa Inayat Khan, and how they inspired her to create the fictional heroine in her new book Rosie Raja: Churchill’s Spy, a thrilling and empowering WWII adventure out this Summer.

Sufiya Ahmed is an award-winning children’s and YA author. She regularly visits secondary and primary schools to talk about her childhood dream to become an author. She also discusses her previous career in the Houses of Parliament to educate and inspire pupils about the democratic process and discusses how her political activism influences her writing. She is a public speaker on girls’ rights.

FREE to attend. To find out more and book your seat, click here
Not Just Books, Thetford, Norfolk (Runs 10 July 3 to 4pm)

 

DO NOT MISS

THOMAS PAINE ANNUAL CURRY NIGHT

Hoteliers, Gez and Rosy Chetal, invite you to join them at the Thomas Paine Hotel for authentic and locally sourced Indian food, homecooked by Rosy.
Celebrate the hotel’s 9th anniversary with Dhol, hand drums and Bollywood music.

To find out more and to book tickets click here
Thomas Paine Hotel, Thetford (Runs 9 July from 7pm)

 

All these events are part of the Festival of East Anglia & Punjab taking place in venues across Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk 1-10 July 2022.

The Festival of East Anglia & Punjab explores the cultural links between the two regions through the story and legacy of Maharajah Duleep Singh and the last royal family of the Punjab, who lived in Norfolk.
Read more about the Festival and find out about the full programme at www.essexcdp.com/event/feap/

 

 

 


 

 

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