Saturday, 29 August 2009

Celebrating Multi-Culturalism!

Part 1 : The Notting Hill Carnival : 30 - 31st August 2009

I took the above photograph, in 2000, my first visit to the much hyped Notting Hill Carnival in West London. The official street festival originally began in 1966 by Caribbean immigrants based on the Trinidad Carnival and annually, it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, and today, the Notting Hill Carnival is the second largest street festival in the world, only being surpassed by the Rio Carnival in Brazil.

According to wikipedia :

Carnival began in January 1959 in St Pancras Town Hall as a response to the depressing state of race relations at the time; the UK's first widespread racial attacks (the Notting Hill race riots) had occurred the previous year.

The carnival was a huge success, despite being held indoors. It first moved outside and was rescheduled to August in 1965. The prime movers were Rhaune Laslett, who was not aware of the indoor events when she first raised the idea, and Claudia Jones, a "Trini", who is widely recognised as 'the Mother of Notting Hill Carnival'. At this point, it was more a Notting Hill event than an African-Caribbean event, and only around a thousand people attended.

The rest they say, is history.

Today, the Carnival represents UK's and in particular, London's diverse and multi-cultural population and heritage, extending the street festival to include other ethnic cultures, like Latina, Asian, European and Indian traditions. Apart from celebrating black afro-carribean dance and music, there will be samba, reggae, soca and all the other derivative styles, not forgetting the wide variety of ethnic food on sale in stalls that jam-pack the side streets of the processions. The majority of stalls will be selling BBQ jerk chicken, but expect Filipino, Spanish, Thai and even Malaysian street food. Such is the mix that is in the Carnival, that over 1 million visitors can be expected over this bank holiday weekend, and the weather's been promised fine.

This weekend also see Malaysia celebrating 52 years of Nationhood.

I know what I'll be doing this weekend!

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