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Leicester Mela – A Cultural Party in the Rain

An annual celebration of Asian culture took place yesterday, as the mela revelled over 30 years in Leicester.

Photo Credit: Hiten Ondhia


Despite the rain, hundreds of people turned up to join in on the festivities, as part of the City Festival.


Nishil Saujani, Event Manager of the Leicester Mela told Pukaar News: “We’re really proud that the mela has been going on for 30 years, from a small community festival that grew and we’re delighted to be here in the city centre. We’re now launching a new project looking back at the history of the mela and we’re asking people to give in memorabilia. It is one of the few events that crosses over weather, rain or shine, we will always have a huge crowd here.”


Music blared from the stage upon entering town, where crowds were gathered and enjoying the entertainment – dancing and singing along.


Kulbinder Rai - photo by Hiten Ondhia
Photo Credit: Hiten Ondhia

Some of the best local acts took part, including Leicester’s very own: The Singing Policeman, Kulbinder Rai who spoke to us: “It’s absolutely wonderful, it’s my first time performing at the Leicester Mela and a dream come true performing at my very own home town. The audience is wonderful even though it’s been forecasted rain the whole day, some of them have no umbrellas and they’re still enjoying dancing! That’s the best thing about Leicester Mela, it brings the whole community together.”


Screaming female fans could be heard from the audience as big act Junai Kaden came on stage. A selected few were lucky enough to talk to him on stage, but were left speechless as they were in front of their idol.


Speaking to the ladies man himself, he told us: “Leicester Mela is one of the best melas in the country, I’ve done it nearly 3 years running and the crowd gets bigger and bigger. It’s wicked, I love it!”


Also joining the stage was Nesdi Jones, a Welsh born singer who sings in Punjabi, along with various other dance acts like Darpan Dance and R&R Productions.


Performer, Nina Kaur, came all the way from Swindon: “It’s amazing! Considering the rain, there’s still a buzz and performing bhangra with Biti was great.”


Dhol players were booming their drums in the streets with Rajasthani dancers, dancing away in their colourful outfits.


Food stalls flooded the High Street. The aroma of lovely curries, samosas and even speciality sweets wafted away. Everywhere you turned, people were enjoying mouthfuls of delicious cuisine.


Mela-goers were stopped in their tracks as there were huge, beautifully-handcrafted animal models exhibited on the street.


The Leicester Market was transformed into the Indian Bazaar, packed full of all kinds of stands. Jewellery sparkled everywhere and elegant Asian clothes were on display. Cultural music boomed through as shoppers enjoyed their experience with the various things that were there.


Queues were also seen at some places, the rain was stopping no one.


Ellen Nelson of Leicester said: “It’s good, it’s multicultural and it really shows what Leicester is about.”


Chanvrika Modha, Leicester: “Apart from the weather, we’ve enjoyed it. We loved the Rajasthani dancers!”


While the weather was gloomy and wet than previous years, the mela atmosphere was still thriving and a big success.