The newly restored headstones of Duleep Singh and his family were unveiled amid a large crowd of Sikhs and local dignitaries in a ceremony by the Sikh Welfare Society...
With perfect blue sky and sunshine, a reading by the town crier and chants of 'Bole So Nihal', the gravestones of the Duleep Singh family were unveiled by the Mayor of Thetford, Robert Khybird in a time-precise ceremony at three separate venues to mark the 150th anniversary of the Duleep Singhs coming to Elveden. The Maharajah and his wife moved into Elveden Hall in 1865.
The event which was the brainchild of Gurdip Singh Sandhu of the Punjab Mail, was carefully co-ordinated by Duleep Singh biographer Peter Bance, with the support of the Sikh Welfare Society of East London, and its chief sponsor Tarsem Singh Bains. Guests from all corners of the UK arrived including some from the Punjab and also Pardeep Singh Nagra from the Sikh Heritage Museum of Toronto.
Proceedings began at Elveden Church where the 3 graves of the Maharajah, his wife Bamba and son Edward Albert were covered in safron sheets with khandas on the facings. Behind the Headstones, 3 kesri Nishan Sahibs were erected. Town Crier Michael Wabe read his carefully written cry on the Maharajahs’ history at Elveden. The Mayor of Thetford unveiled each Headstone, followed by wreath laying by Gurdip Singh Sandhu, Tarsem Singh Bains and Peter Bance, watched by the Chairman of Norfolk County Council (NCC) Rex Parkinson-Hare and Gordon Bambridge Chairman of Breckland Council.
The convoy of cars and minibuses then moved on to the sleepy Norfolk village of Blo Norton 30 minutes away for their next venue, to be greeted by local villagers who had descended upon the parish church for this most memorable ceremony.
After The Town Crier's tribute to Prince Frederick Duleep Singh and a wreath by the Sikh Welfare Society, the Rector of Elveden spoke majestically about the prince's good work and dedication to the local area. The Sikh Welfare Society paid their tribute with a cheque for £500 to the Church of St.Andrew's for their ongoing building work. After a large applause by the local villagers, the entourage left for their next venue for food, drinks and speeches at Thetford Museum.
First to speak was the NCC Chairman, whose grandfather had served for the Maharajah of Kapurthala, followed by the Museum curator Oliver Bone, and then the Mayor of Thetford who thanked the Sikh Welfare Society, Each of the dignitaries was given a presentation gift by the Society, followed by a surprise to the museum’s Karen Emma-White who was given a cheque for £1000 by the Society towards the new Duleep Singh Gallery Fund. Karen thanked in particular Peter Bance for his ever-present work on the Duleep Singhs and support of the Museum. Whilst Mr Sandhu recited a poem in Punjabi and Society Chairman Satnam Singh gave a closing speech of thanks.
The Headstoen of Prince Frederick Duleep Singh at Blo Norton Church prior to restoration, and after
The Sikh Welfare Society present a cheque for £500 to Blo Norton Church for their building fund
So happy to read of the memorial efforts. The Maharani's life is especially touching.