Despite frequent monsoon-like downpours over the weekend, the Mela delivered a good show and big sounds. Said one Indian living and working Glasgow: ‘It was a really good Mela. It made me homesick!’
For the first time running over two days in Kelvingrove Park, the Mela drew in the crowds.
On Saturday 18 June, winner of the Best Urban Act Award at the UK AMAS and the Best British Asian Urban Act at the 2010 BritAsia awards, Mumzy Stranger, set the World Stage alight with his unique style of urban music. Keeping up the tempo were Bass2base, the first-ever Bollywood band to perform at the O2 Glasgow Mela. They wowed everyone with their polished blend of new and old Bollywood styles with Bhangra, Hindi, pop, funk and urban sounds.
On Sunday 19 June, Manak-E, who has dominated the Bollywood and Punjabi music scene with hits songs including Paisa Paisa and Dhoor, delighted fans. On of the world’s top Bhangra bands, DCS, made a sensational return to the Mela five years after first performing at the event. Frontman Shin said: “Glasgow is an awesome audience, I love being back. Music is my life and I love sharing it with anyone who’ll listen. That’s why I love the Mela, it is a great way to introduce new people to Bhangra music and music is a great way to introduce people to new cultures.”
International dance acts added colour and energy to the proceedings. Dressed in elaborate masks representing gods, monsters and animals, the acrobatic Chhau Dancers from Eastern Indian thrilled the crowds with an awesome routine involving swords and shields to illustrate popular tales. Tinku from Chhau Dancers said: “I have been looking forward to dancing in Glasgow. I hope our dancing inspires people to learn more about Indian culture. That’s what the Mela is about after all – sharing the best parts of different cultures.”
They were joined by local acts showcasing the cultural diversity on offer in Glasgow, with performances from Scotland’s hottest Bollywood talent, Desi Bravehearts and Eletricat Brazilian Dance.
New for 2011 was a collaboration with schools across Glasgow. This gave hundreds of youngsters the opportunity to work with Priyanka Purohit, assistant to the legendary Bollywood choreographer Pratap Shetty, to learn Bollywood, freestyle and Bhangra dance, which they performed on stage during the weekend.
A second new element this year was Dance Dhamaka. The aim of Dhamaka, meaning ‘explosion’, was to get Scotland dancing towards the Cultural Olympiads in 2012. To underline the multi-cultural nature of the Mela some of the most exciting dance groups in the country entertained festival-goers with a mix of styles including Flamenco, Chinese, Brazilian and Scottish.
Councillor George Redmond, Chair of Glasgow Life said: “In its 21 year history the festival has gone from strength to strength and continues to be a wonderful family event that highlights Glasgow as a multicultural and multi racial city. Moving to two days was definitely the right decision. Despite the rain, thousands of people have enjoyed a fabulous weekend of free entertainment at the biggest O2 Glasgow Mela yet.”
Glasgow’s West End Festival runs till Sunday 26 June so there is still time to catch major and minor delights.
The Asian extravaganza of a Mela will be in Kelvingrove Park on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June. A whole series of Daniel’s Beard concerts continues till Friday 24 June at the Cottier. A vintage bus service will run from Victoria Park to the West End on Sunday 26 June. And on that final Sunday of the Festival, the Runaway Bride’s relay run – the Revenge of the Bridesmaid – will take place in Kelvingrove Park. Organised by the Hilton-Foundation charity fund in aid of the Williams-syndrome, the fun 5k run has everyone dresses as brides and bridesmaids and is a spectacle.
Film, cookery master classes, kids stuff, classical music, fiddle workshops, garden fetes and art exhibitions and more are all there for enjoying. Lots of events are free. Look for a paper copy of the 100+ paged programme in places such as libraries. But online information can be found at: www.westendfestival.co.uk
Here are some pictures from the opening parade and from FORK Gala day. Friends of the River Kelvin (FORKs) care about the environment of the river and had a very successful Gala Day. See info elsewhere on this website.
Scotland’s biggest multi-cultural festival – the O2 Glasgow Mela – will erupt on Saturday 18 June at 12 noon in Kelvingrove Park. So stand back and enjoy the colour, music and fun from then till 8pm that night and again during the same hours on Sunday 19 June. This will be the first time in 21 years the event will take place over two days. It celebrates the city’s racial diversity and is based on the traditions and customs of the Indian sub-continent. And it is a free event!
Said Gosia Manka, Channel Marketing Manager at O2: ‘This is a fantastic community event. We are delighted, again, to offer our support and look forward to enjoying the wonderful celebrations of Asian arts and culture.’ Around 25,000 people attended last year.
Added Councillor George Redmond, Chair of Glasgow Life: ‘Glasgow is rightly proud of its rich multi-cultural heritage. A visit to Kelvingrove Park this weekend promises to put a smile on your face – expect colourful costumes, uplifting music and awesome dance routines from across the Commonwealth – and you won’t be disappointed. In its 21 year history, the festival has gone from strength to strength. It is certain to be another exciting, family, event and I’d encourage everyone to come along and enjoy.’
Bailie Hanzala Malik, Chair of the O2 Glasgow Mela Steering Group, said: ‘We have seen O2 Glasgow Mela grow in size and popularity to become one of the most keenly anticipated and enjoyed events of the summer by people of all ages and cultures. I am confident this will be the best celebration yet. It is certainly going to be the biggest, thanks to the wealth of acts performing across the two days. I would like to thank the many individuals and organisations involved for working so hard to help to ensure that Glasgow’s 21st Mela is one to remember.’
Among the many exciting performances will be the Chhau Dancers. These elaborately masked artists represent gods, monsters and animals and with a mix of powerfully executed acrobatic movements and mid-air somersaults tell their stories. Said Tinku from Chhau Dancers: ‘I have been looking forward to dancing in Glasgow. I’ve heard it is a very welcoming city. I hope our dancing inspires people to learn more about Indian culture and I look forward to finding out more about Scotland. That’s what the Mela is about after all – sharing the best parts of different cultures.’
Also billed are the Jaipur Maharaja Brass Band . They will provide a unique blend of Indian melodies and traditional Rajastani folk music with popular themes from Bollywood, jazz, funk, pop and reggae. Their set includes a spectaclar gypsy dancer, famous across India for her ‘cobra dance’. Local Bollywood talent, Desi Bravehearts, charmed the crowds last year and will add further colour with their traditional dance routines – which have great humour and are very advanced in style as if from the set of a blockbuster Bollywood movie.
Renowned, world-class Bhangra band – DCS – will play on both days. It is five years since their platinum selling sounds were heard at the Glasgow O2 Mela. With a back catalogue that includes Punjabi, Hindi and English, DCS have built a global reputation as the sound of British Asia. They are not to be missed! Said their frontman Shin: ‘Music is my life and I love sharing it with anyone who’ll listen. That’s why I love the Mela, it is a great way to introduce new people to Bhangra music and music is a great way to introduce people to new cultures. Glasgow was an awesome audience, the memory of performing at Mela last time will remain with me always. It was an incredible night, which is why I am really excited about returning.’
DCS will be joined on Saturday by the winner of the Best Urban Act Award at the UK AMAS and the Best British Asian Urban Act at the 2010 BritAsia awards, Mumzy Stranger, renowned for his unique style of urban music. And Bass2base, the first-ever Bollywood band to perform at the O2 Glasgow Mela, are set to delight festival-goers with their polished blend of new and old Bollywood styles with Bhangra, Hindi pop, funk, mehfil and urban sounds.
Other well-known urban artists certain to wow the crowds include Manak-E and Eletricat Brazilian Dance.
A new feature is a collaboration with eight schools across Glasgow. Priyanka Purohit, assistant to the legendary Bollywood choreographer Pratap Shetty, has been working with youngsters throughout the city who have been learning Bollywood, freestyle and Bhangra dance to perform on stage across the weekend.
Another innovation will be Dance Dhamaka. The aim of Dhamaka, meaning ‘explosion’, is to get Scotland dancing towards the Cultural Olympiads in 2012. To underline the multi-cultural nature of the Mela some of the most exciting dance groups in the country have been invited to perform. They will feature Flamenco, Chinese and Scottish dance.
The Kidz Zone will be dedicated to children. Other offerings include street theatre, arts, cultural exhibits and a trader’s bazaar with fine foods. Full details of the line ups for both days can be found at www.glasgowmela.com
This is the month to party in the park, dance in the streets and enjoy the outdoor festivals which have spawned in recent years. The contrast between a one day event for the Southside Festival and a fortnight of activities for the West End Festival is noticeable. The marvellous Mela has music and style but parents need deep pockets for all the activities. The Merchant City Festival has many very unusual and artistic happenings contained in a very neat, readable pocket programme.
Factor in all the family fun days and local gala days with crowning ceremonies and you have acres of entertainment.
Which makes it all the more odd that the BUNGO IN THE BACK LANE in Strathbungo on the Southside was cancelled with less than 24 hours notice. Organisers say the back lane neighbourly event which has been running for 13 years, was harmless and enjoyable. But the city authorities seem to fear for crowd safety with illegal drinking down the dunnies. Whatever has happened there will still be time to have tea with tenants and residents. Let’s know which is your favourite street festival, family fun day or community gala in Glasgow.
Don’t miss the MELA this Sunday – 20 June! The Desi Bravehearts – pictured here in Kelvingrove Park where the event will be starting at 12 noon – will be only one of 16 dancers and entertainers of world renown on the Commonwealth Stage. There there is the world stage and the Kids’ Tent and performances and tips and Skate Park and traders and market stalls and ice cream and food and fashion and people watching and wonderful fun.
The 02 Sponsored event is Scotland’s biggest multi-cultural festival. Around 25,000 people are expected in this, it’s 20th year. The world’s most successful bhangra band will be there along with Bollywood stars Shak Rukh Khan and Sunny Deol. Rising star Jaz Dhami, voted Best Male at the 2010 Brit Asia Awards, will also be in the line-up. And even the Hellenic Dancers have a new and exciting routine to launch on the day. Don’t miss any of it!