If you have never heard of a ‘mela’ before, let alone ever been to one, you should be prepared to have all of your senses stimulated and overwhelmed. ‘Mela’ is translated as ‘to meet’ in Sanskrit and really describes a large gathering of people who come together in celebration, in essence a festival. Just as the western world celebrates and has festivals on specific dates in the religious calendar so too the melas have their origins in religious occasions such as Eid, Diwali or Vaisakhi.
The mela brings together all of the colour, sounds and smells of the sub continent. You will find musical entertainment, performance, traditional craft and a bazaar type environment as well as authentic food from quick and easy street food to a full blown dining experience. There is no limit to the size of a mela and they have been known to attract anything from several thousand people to numbers in the millions, depending upon the nature of the celebration and the location it is held.
The History of the London Mela
The first London Mela was organised in 2003, and was supported by the office of the Lord Mayor of London and Ealing council. The first year saw an attendance of 60,000 people, the second year brought 90,000. Now the London Mela is one of the most significant events in the London’s cultural calendar. It is a wonderful celebration of Asian culture that lifts the spirits and stimulates the senses. The London Mela is also a means for new Asian artists to break into the mainstream, as well as a means of supporting the more traditional Asian art forms by bringing them to the notice of a much wider audience. The London Mela has been critically acclaimed for the quality and standard of not only the organisation but also the artists and performances that it brings to the stage. Almost a third of the people that visit the mela are non Asian making it a true multi cultural event and the perfect festival for all of the family to attend.
About the Festival
The Mela takes place in Gunnersbury Park on September 1st. This year’s festival looks set to outshine all that have gone before which the richness and diversity of events and attractions. As with many festivals there will be different zones throughout the park such as the Main Stage, the Mela Family Area, the BBC Asian Network Mix Tent and The Classical Stage. There will also be some truly spectacular outdoor performances and plenty of opportunities to sample the very best in Asian cuisine at the food market.
Sport will also be well presented in the form of Skype Cricket Nets and other sporting themed activities. This year the stage will hold some of the biggest names in Asian music such as AS Kang, Ballly Sagoo and Falak and of course there will be all of the colour and spectacle of Bollywood dancing. Do something different this summer and experience a festival which will open your eyes and fill your life with colour.