Curious cultural interchange: Indian classical in Bristol

(Published in The Wire, April 2019 edition. Copyright is with the magazine – extract below. Buy a copy of this excellent publication!)


WIRE: George Howlett contributor page




Housed in a barely-converted Christian church, Bristol’s Hindu Temple typifies the city’s reputation for complex cultural interchange. Sandwiched between a chicken shop and a taekwondo academy, it was established in 1979 to serve the fast-growing local South Asian population, many of whom had arrived in England only a few years earlier. Most were ‘twice migrants’ – Indian communities that had first settled (or been resettled) in East Africa under British colonial rule before being forced to flee the ethno-nationalism of independence leaders such as Idi Amin.


The temple’s website embodies its open, celebratory attitude: “Hinduism is often described as a religion of fasts, feasts and festivals – come and see for yourself.” It hosts a regular schedule of events, from dances and daily prayers to sprawling multi-day ceremonies. Traditional Indian music abounds there – on entering the temple worshippers alert the gods to their presence by ringing large brass bells, and rituals often focus on the chanting of mantras or singing of bhajans, devotional songs with lyrics depicting saintly teachings and ancient epics.


How does the music help India’s Bristolian diaspora reconnect with their heritage?…


(full version available on request:



One thought on “Curious cultural interchange: Indian classical in Bristol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s