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Last Updated: Friday, 3 November 2006, 15:37 GMT
'Bengali Bonfire Night' defended
Bengali bonfire night tiger
A tiger will is the centre piece of the night. Picture: Walk The Plank
A council has defended its decision to replace traditional Guy Fawkes celebrations with a Bengali folk tale.

Tower Hamlets council in east London was condemned as "absurd" for holding bonfire night without Guy Fawkes.

Local MP George Galloway and Conservative councillor Timothy Archer criticised the show about an emperor, a wise man and a tiger.

The council said the criticism was "utter nonsense" because the displays always featured different themes.

Mr Galloway, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said: "It beggars belief that you could have bonfire night without Guy Fawkes. I've often said Guy Fawkes was one of the few men to enter parliament with good intentions."

People see that a traditional British bit of history has been hijacked by the politically-correct brigade
Councillor Timothy Archer
Constituents were disappointed by this year's show, according to Mr Archer.

"They see that a traditional British bit of history has been hijacked by the politically correct-brigade," he said.

The council said that the decision was not about political correctness, but creativity.

"Every year we've done a themed event," said Eloise Clark, a Tower Hamlets council spokeswoman.

She said it was one of a series of different themed bonfire nights held over the past four years.

Replica of the House of Commons
Last year's celebrations burnt down a replica of the House of Commons. Picture: Walk The Plank

"It's based really around what will make a really good display of lights and colour," she said.

This year's show, which is free, will include a lightshow, drummers, dancers, a 6m-long and 3m-tall (about 20ft by 10ft) illuminated, walking, roaring tiger, and a firework finale.

Last year, the council burnt down a huge replica of the House of Commons to mark the 400th anniversary of the gunpowder plot; the year before that, there was a Mexican "Day of the Dead" theme.

The number of visitors has grown from 2,000 five years ago, to 23,000 last year.

Next week's event is expected to draw 25,000.

The show will be held in Victoria Park on 5 November.




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