The chenda team of Malayalee Association of the UK in Manor Park, Newham Picture: Malayalee Association of the UK
A Hindu temple congregation led a five-hour march to the sound of Keralan drums to mark this year’s Chariot Festival.
The march, organised by London Sri Murugan Temple in Church Road, East Ham, enlisted drummers from Newham’s south Indian community to accompany a chariot on the march on Sunday last week.
Sudheer Vasudevan, 44, joined the march for the fifth year in a row, bringing his chenda (south Indian drum) team from Romford Road’s Malayalee Association of the UK.
“Our chenda team has welcomed the high commission of India, played for Diwali in Trafalgar Square and now we’ve played our fifth year celebrating the Kalpathi Ratholsavam festival,” he said. “We had 18 chenda drums playing and it created an ambience like a big band. This is a mandatory part of the festival.”
The march began at the London Sri Murugan Temple before drummers were showered with donations to support the music group as thousands of people watched the parade.
Sudheer, who teaches chenda drumming at Kerala House in Romford Road, Manor Park, said the march showed the best of the multiculturalism Newham has to offer, adding such events are important for community cohesion because of their inclusive, educational qualities.
Though the festival is rooted in a traditional Hindu celebration that honours Shiva each year in Kerala, South India, Sudheer said the Manor Park version is not just for Hindus.
And he said he’s keen to play his part in connecting the community to Keralan culture by inviting people to join his classes, which are open to all ages and abilities.
“If anyone is interested they are always welcome,” he said. “If they want to come along we can organise a taster session.”