By Chris Hocking, Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival Publicity Director

I would like to thank the Bridgwater Mercury for allowing me to respond on behalf of Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival to the accusation of alleged racism within Bridgwater Carnival.

As organisers of our annual Carnival we have always embraced diverse cultures from across the world and, over the years, we have included participants from different ethnicities and cultures in our festivities.

This year alone we welcomed groups representing the Derby Cultural Roots Carnival Troupe, Budva Carnival from Montenegro and the Wycombe Steel Orchestra who performed Caribbean music for the enjoyment of the thousands of visitors who flocked to our town on carnival day.

Our committee and clubs have had, and continue to have, people from ethnic minority groups playing full and active roles.

Therefore, far from being racist, our carnival can only be described as being all inclusive since no individual is excluded on the basis of ethnicity, culture or ability. Nor will anyone ever be excluded – carnival is for everyone to enjoy whether as a participant, spectator or organiser.

Your reader has chosen to highlight the entry by the Renegades Carnival Club ‘Ganesh’s Journey Home’.

Far from mocking the character of India, we believe this club’s entry could, and should, be viewed as celebrating the Asian culture.

Further, by bringing this to the streets of Bridgwater, we consider that it helps create a better understanding of traditions, customs and festivities for the audience, many of whom may be unaware of what takes place in other parts of the world.

Integrating diverse cultures in this way should be embraced and applauded, not criticised.

We are firmly of the opinion that this entry was a celebration of the Indian culture with no intention to offend and we have received no correspondence from the wider Asian community to suggest that any offence was caused.

The English Oxford Dictionary defines racism as ‘prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior’.

The entry by Renegades, certainly does not fall within this definition by any stretch of the imagination - neither do any other entries in our parades or concerts which depict and embrace themes based on civilisations from across the globe.

Racism is rightly to be deplored and will never be allowed in our carnival, or in any other carnival in the country.

However, the celebration of different cultures and festivities should be encouraged as it can only lead to better understanding, tolerance and improvement in relationships.

Your reader has decided to hide behind the cloak of anonymity but I would be more than happy to discuss any issues raised should he or she wish to contact me.


Chris Hocking

Publicity Director

Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival