Renowned Indian singer and poet visits Thetford

We are delighted to announce that Bir Singh is the new patron for the Festival of East Anglia and Punjab, taking place this Summer. Bir Singh is a singer and lyricist who has composed and written many of the top film soundtracks for the Punjab film industry and is a poet in his own right. He is visiting from the Punjab for the very first time for a UK Tour, performing in some of Britain’s renowned venues.

Essex Cultural Diversity Project and the Anglo Punjab Heritage Foundation hosted a special visit by Bir Singh, inviting him to Elveden and Norfolk to pay homage to the last Emperor of the Punjab Maharajah Duleep Singh.

Bir Singh was invited to Norfolk by the Anglo Punjab Heritage Foundation, and laid flowers at the Grave of Maharajah Duleep Singh at Elveden Church with a flurry of international and regional media. Speaking at Elveden, Bir Singh expressed what an honour it was for him to visit the Church and pay his respects, and even recited a poem, The expressed the idea that ,no matter what our faiths are, we are all one – a reference to the Maharajah, who was born a Sikh but later became a Christian. Maharajah Duleep Singh biographer and historian Peter Bance gave Bir Singh a tour of the historic church and its grounds where a glimpse of Elveden Hall could be seen.

Bir Singh's visit to Thetford

The group proceeded to Ancient House Museum in Thetford where Bir Singh was received by the curator Oliver Bone who told him about the building’s connection with the Maharajah’s son Prince Frederick and how the building dated from the same century that the Sikh faith was founded. He was welcomed at the Museum by the Mayor of Thetford Mike Brindle, Chairman of Breckland Roy Brame, and Councillor Stuart Wright. Each giving a short welcoming note to Bir Singh, with the Mayor telling Bir Singh that his own father was born in India and that he had hoped one day to visit India himself. Bir Singh replied that he would personally host and make his visit an enjoyable one whenever the Mayor wished to visit. Roy Brame spoke of the naming of Butten Island’s park to the Park of Maharajah Ranjit Singh, whilst Cllr Stuart Wright spoke of the council’s new initiative of having a Prince Duleep Singh Room at the Guildhall. All of which delighted Bir Singh who especially thanked curator Oliver Bone for giving him a guided tour of their latest exhibition on Suffragist Princess Catherine Duleep Singh.

The singer accompanied by the Mayor and Councillors walked to Butten Island to see the bronze equestrian statue of the Maharajah at Butten island. Peter Bance gave the closing speech, welcoming Bir Singh to the county and thanking him in making time in his busy schedule to come to Thetford.

Historian Peter Bance said “the story of the Maharajah binds the British and Punjabi community and is a common history which brings both cultures together”.

Creative Director & CEO Indi Sandhu said “We were honoured to host Bir Singh at Thetford and Elveden to visit various locations related to Maharajah Duleep Singh and historical background of these sites.  We hope to have Bir Singh back in Norfolk later in the year to take part in this year’s Festival of East Anglia and Punjab marking the 75th Anniversary of the Partition which divided the land of Maharajah Duleep Singh between Pakistan and India.”

The visit was jointly hosted by Essex Culturally Diversity Project who hold the annual Punjab Festival at Thetford.