As Mayor you get to learn about the many and varied parts of Worcester’s varied cultures. I recently attended the Malayali Christmas celebrations that happen in January each year. It was a riot of sarees, food, music and dance with an amazing Father Christmas throwing sweets and dancing his way through a cheering crowd.
There are over a thousand Malayali families living in Worcestershire who originally came from Kerela in southwest India. Due to their good English and medical training many of these families came to the UK in the 90s and noughties to work in our NHS and as consequence we have lots of Malayali residents living here in Worcester, many working at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
It’s perhaps dangerous to generalise but the Malayali community are generous to a fault and are a friendly and an incredibly polite group of people. In fact, unless you have been a patient at the hospital you may not have known that the community existed.
A big part of their culture is that they are mostly Catholic, the other for me was to learn that they are very keen on tug of war competitions. Our Worcester team is very good – in the past they have been UK national champions and they sometimes travel abroad to compete. Tug of war is a popular sport in southeast Asia – you don’t need a big space and the only equipment you need is a rope. It’s a very competitive sport – it’s not just strength or weight it’s about timing, technique and teamwork. There is lots of talk about getting just the right type of shoe for getting the best grip.
I know that local councillors are working with council staff to try and find a place for the local team to practice. It would be fantastic to see tug of war given more attention in Worcester and I’m sure that if the council can support the community with a space to practice it will be possible to see this great sport taken up by all sections of the community.