Leicester’s City Centre was brought to life today with an array of performances and a display of vibrant colours for this year’s Mela Festival. The event follows the legendary Skyride that took place yesterday and has brought hundreds of people out this bank holiday to conclude the new “City Festival” weekend. With music booming, the sun shining and a variety of food, the decision to move Mela to this weekend proved to be a huge success.
The festival that celebrates Indian Culture and South Asian arts is in its 31st year and thriving. The notorious Leicester Market was transformed into a shopping paradise featuring jewellery, fashions and many more traditional gifts. Known as the UK’s biggest Indian Bazaar, Leicester’s market became the home to some of the subcontinents most famous delicacies. From mouth-watering curries to freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, the Indian food court captured it all. The market criers and passionate chefs enticed the crowd with tasters and descriptions that were irresistible. The sights, smells and sounds all came together to conjure a true sense of the South-East Traditions.
As well as the chance to experience the Golden Mile’s unique food in Leicester’s City Centre, there was a great international line-up with star’s that had travelled from across the globe. This year’s event marked a special occasion for Mela as it celebrated 100 years of Indian Cinema. To mark such a monumental achievement a medley of international artists including Jaipur Kawa Brass Band and the world famous Shiamak International Dance Company were selected for the main stage of Leicester’s Mela. For the first time Leicester’s Mela has been able to host two stages and increase the variety of acts for new communities to experience. This year also featured some of the biggest names on the British Asian music scene including crowd pleasing vocalist H Dhami.
Aside from the fantastic international line-up, as always, the organisers committed to giving the local community and performing arts troupes the chance to showcase their talents. With groups of talented youngsters starting from the ages of 5 years old, this festival really was a family fun-filled day out. Performers and street artists reigned in the streets of Leicester displaying their talents and skills that harness their cultural upbringing as well as offering free workshops for the public.
Janak Chauhan, Rangoli Artist worked on large scale pieces throughout the day in different areas at the heart of the festival. Adding more colour to festival with a visual masterpiece for all to enjoy created quite a stir in the City Centre. Manager of Janak, Mark Townsend told Pukaar News, “We come, we rangoli and then we leave”. The use of crushed marble and stained corn flour creates a unique piece of artwork that draws attention to the detail and skill need for such a profession.
Events and Marketing Manager for Leicester Mela, Nishal Saujani told Pukaar News about this year’s event. “It’s grown and grown and we’re delighted to be part of this year’s City Festival. This is the only place that the community get that format for TV and worldwide audiences”. The grand finale of the new ‘City Festival’ embraced all of what Leicester has to offer for not just one culture but all the nationalities found in Leicester. Families, children, friends and partners were all united today in this great celebration of hosting something unique to Leicester. Speaking to visitors of the festival, Pukaar News found people had travelled across the country for this year’s Mela in Leicester. The local community groups and performers were given the opportunity today to showcase their work to not only friends and family but to a community that stretches far beyond the boundaries of the county.