August 28, 2008

Biggest Mela in City History Prepares for Grand Finale

By Fay Winter

PERFORMERS have travelled from as far afield as Africa, South America and India to entertain crowds at this year's Mela Festival.

This weekend is the culmination of a week of activities celebrating the city's cultural diversity.

Founded in 1995 by members of the city's Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi communities, this year's event is the biggest yet.

Having moved from Pilrig Park to a new venue at Ocean Terminal in Leith, the event also incorporates acts from the Gypsy Arts Festival and recognises Edinburgh's thriving Polish community with a performance by Gappad, Scotland's only Polish theatre ensemble.

The festivities began on Sunday with Sakhian - ladies only night - which included staged drama Sapano ki Shaadi or Dream Wedding, as well as a disco and performance by Bhangra singer Des-C.

Edinburgh Mela Festival chairman, Steve Cardownie, said: "This year's event marks a step change for the Mela's entry into Edinburgh's festival calendar. It is the boldest programme we have ever presented, and has extended across many more cultures than previously."

Saturday's Xaware Roadshow, co-ordinated by Edinburgh-based Senegalese musician Samba Sene, will focus on live music and rhythm, ranging from traditional folk music and songs, drumming and dance to original contemporary music, with performers from Senegal, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Cte d'Ivoire.

An appearance by Tariq Khan, whose debut album Sugar N Spice topped the Asian charts, is also expected to be a crowd pleaser.

Making his debut as festival director, Liam Sinclair said: "The Mela this year offers a world of creative talent. Traditional Indian dance will sit beside tango and flamenco troupes.

"The big top will host an aerial circus act and the rhythms of India and Pakistan will be joined by those from Japan, Africa and elsewhere. Upswing Aerial have devised a breathtaking display of circus acrobatics and the London Community Gospel Choir will add their infectious singing to the party atmosphere."

Weekend evening highlights include a club night in Ocean Kitchen with live DJs, internationally recognised producer Rishi Rich, along with artists Juggy D and Veronica, and the legendary Bhangra band DCS, as well as daytime musical entertainment from Bobby B & Jay Jagpal, Mr Vin, Oz-E & DJ Gully, DJ Kunal and DJ VIP.

Also taking place on both Saturday and Sunday is a "journey through the forest" which will see children learn about different cultures through craft, sounds, dance, stories and art.

The festival concludes with a presentation of Mother India 21st century (MI21): a contemporary live re-scoring of the original Mother India, led by award winning turntablist DJ Tigerstyle.


Musical entertainment in the big top from Bobby B & Jay Jagpal, Mr Vin, Oz-E & DJ Gully, DJ Kunal and DJ VIP on Saturday 12noon to 2pm and Sunday 12noon to 1.30pm.

* A Saturday afternoon concert from Bangladeshi performer Kaya, from 3.30pm.

* Senegalese musician Samba Sene co-ordinates the Xaware Roadshow on Saturday.

* The Festival party (club night) in the Ocean Kitchen featuring Notorious Jatt, MC special DJ Kunal, and DJ Bobby B & Jay Jagpal.

* On Sunday, a flamenco workshop in the Mela Garden at 12noon.

* Performances on Sunday, including music from Java and Bali and the premiere of Yatra//Journey, combining the musical traditions of South Asia and Scotland.

* A fashion show on Sunday will present contemporary styles with a Bollywood twist.

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