In Preston, England, “the whole Commonwealth” in honor of the jubilee
Between Bollywood dance performances and henna stands, the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the reign of Elizabeth II took on the air of a major multicultural festival in Preston in the North West of England, home to a large Indo-Pakistani community. .
In this city of some 140,000 people north of Liverpool and Manchester, the Preston City Mela honors South Asian culture every day for a day.
And this year, in addition to celebrating 25 years of existence, the festival also celebrates the platinum jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
“Of course, we live in this country and we love our queen, but for once, it’s good to have our culture and those of the whole Commonwealth in the spotlight,” said Hanifa, a resident of Preston of Indonesian origin.
On Thursday, for the start of the jubilee celebrations, Hanifa watched the military parade on television and was “moved” to see Queen Elizabeth on the balcony of Buckingham with her family.
– Samoussas and Ed Sheeran –
“But what makes the atmosphere particularly nice today is that it’s full of different influences and cultures,” said the 60-year-old, who came to enjoy the festivities with friends in the nearby town of Blackburn.
“Jubilee has been incorporated into the program to get as close as possible to a + Commonwealth + theme,” said Gulab Singh, the day’s organizer, who is expecting several thousand people. “We have Chinese dancers, African musicians, it’s not just the culture of South Asia, we’ve expanded the theme to better reflect the perspective of the Commonwealth. »
The Commonwealth, headed by the Queen, is an organization of 54 member states, including 15 kingdoms, often former territories of the British Empire.
Above all, Shreya Ghodke, another organizer, smiles, “We have a cake-cutting ceremony this year. That’s really very British! »
Sitting in the sun, Amit Chauhan, 58, eats vegetable samoussas while nodding to the music. On stage, a dancer unhooks in a sari on “Shape of You”, the tube of the British singer Ed Sheeran, here remixed with Indian influences.
“It simply came to our notice then. Since Thursday, we have seen a lot of festivities + so British + but not a lot of things that put British immigration in the spotlight, ”he told AFP.
“My parents came to the North West of England in the 1960s, they worked in the textile factories in the area, like a lot of other Indian or Pakistani migrants at the time,” he says. .
A thriving industrial city, thanks in part to the cotton industry, Preston saw the arrival in the late 1950s of many people, including from India and Pakistan, who went to work in the textile mills in a region that was then in short supply. works.
“Honestly, the queen and the monarchy, I don’t really care, I think it’s a lot of noise for nothing… But I’m British, you have to deal with it,” Chauhan said with a smile.
While some 60 per cent of Britons want to keep the monarchy, only 37 per cent of ethnic minority Britons support it in its current state, according to a study released last month by British Future.
Laila, 16, did not attend the jubilee celebrations at all. “It simply came to our notice then. But for us, it’s mostly an opportunity to hang out with friends, ”says the teen, who has decided to break the parental ban on getting a henna tattoo.
“Thank you, Queen,” she said, proudly showing her tattooed hand.