Indian summer at Belfast Mela

Published Sunday, 26 August 2012
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Thousands have turned out in Belfast as the sun made a welcome appearance in time for the annual Mela festival.

Indian summer at Belfast Mela
Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann at the Belfast Mela. (© OFMDFM)

Over 20,000 festival-goers descended on Botanic Gardens to enjoy one of Ireland's largest multicultural festivals on Sunday.

In its sixth year, the one-day flagship event gave visitors the chance to sample a variety of food from across the globe, including Thai, Polish, Spanish and Indian cuisine, discover local artistic talent and even participate in traditional South Asian sports.

Headlining the world stage were iconic British Bhangra band DCS supported by Congolese musician, ans singer songwriter Niwel Tsumbu with his spectacular live band.

Festival favourite the Jaipur Kawa Brass Band accompanied by the acclaimed dancer Sapera Kalbelya also made a welcome return this year.

Speaking at the event Nisha Tandon, Director of Arts Ekta said: "This year's Mela has been the biggest and best to date.

"The weather has been glorious, the gardens are packed to capacity and the atmosphere has been electric. Northern Ireland is embracing its cultural diversity and it is wonderful to see so many people across all cultures and communities come together to celebrate and enjoy those differences which make us all unique."

New to this year's event was The Maharaja Tent, which featured renowned British Asian musician and composer Kuljit Bharma, who worked with Andrew Llyod Webber on the hit musical 'Bombay Dreams!'.

Junior Ministers Jonathan Bell and Jennifer McCann also joined in the celebrations.

Mr Bell said: "The Mela has become a regular highlight and welcome addition to our cultural and social calendar. The growth in the popularity of this event shows the world that we have travelled far in establishing a shared society."

Ms McCann added: "The Mela is a clear demonstration of how unlocking the potential of the culture, arts and leisure sectors can prove to be instruments for positive change for us all."

© UTV News
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