Sunglasses and saris replaced wellies and waterproofs at the o2 Mela in Kelvingrove Park on Sunday 24 June as the monsoon like weather of Saturday change to sunshine.
More than 25,000 revellers refused to let the damp conditions spoil a fun-filled weekend. Festival-goers and families of every age and ethnicity enjoyed the music and dance at this Asian carnival.
A spectacular line-up of international performers delighted the crowds on three stages. Scotland’s biggest multi-cultural festival has gone from strength to strength. This year Glasgow Life added an extra day when the entertainment was specially programmed for 3,000 city schoolchildren. Ten Glasgow schools rehearsed with professional dancers for seven weeks, to produce a final performance in front of their peers on the World Stage on Friday.
The O2 Glasgow Mela showcased one of the hottest new female talents on the Asian music scene – Avina Shah – who delights fans of modern Bollywood and Rnb/pop, as well as devotees of the more traditional Punjabi and Gujarati styled music. This versatile performer took her audience on a memorable musical journey, kick-starting her performance with her debut single, the upbeat ‘Tere Bina’.
After an eight-song set Avina said: ‘I was so excited about performing for the first time in Glasgow. The reputation of Glasgow audiences is well known and the crowd were brilliant. They were very welcoming, in fact their dancing entertained me, I only hope I entertained them too. My final song, my new single ‘Dil Deewana’, is about letting your hair down, about having fun. The people of Glasgow certainly showed they know how to do that. It’s been great fun and I’d love to come back.’
Later on Sunday, award-winning Bhangra singer JK performed for the first time in Scotland with his sensational live band.
On Saturday the exceptional Bhangra star Angrej Ali and his live band electrified the O2 Glasgow Mela crowds with their unique brand of Punjabi folk and traditional music, which was fused with an exciting urban sound. From classic hits Tharti Hilde and Phattey Chak to dance floor smash Nachdi De, Angrej Ali delighted fans old and new with his renowned singing style.
International dance acts added colour and energy to the proceedings. The Electricat Dance Troupe amazed with their display of Brazilian dances. The Afro-Latino influences delivered a contemporary and powerful style. This truly spectacular extravaganza of pulsating rhythms, sinuous movements and colourful feathers and sequins really impressed the O2 Glasgow Mela audiences.
The Kennedy Cupcakes offered an alternative dance show when they performed showstopping routines to 40’s and 50’s hits such as ‘Boogie Woogie Boy’ and ‘In the Mood’. The Kennedy Cupcakes were dressed in the finery of the times. They added a touch of vintage glamour to the proceedings and had the audience eating out of their hands. While the Kawa Musical Circus mystified those watching with rope walking and an incredible human ‘helicopter’ acrobatic stunt some 20 feet in the air.
Councillor Archie Graham, Chair of Glasgow Life said: ‘In its 22nd year, the O2 Glasgow Mela continues to be the brightest and best festival to showcase Scotland’s multi-cultural talents and rich heritage of which this city is so proud.’
Gosia Manka, Channel Marketing Manager at O2 said: ‘O2 were delighted to be a part of the cultural extravaganza at the O2 Glasgow Mela again this year. We hope the many attendees of the event had a great time and came to visit the O2 international bus and camper van to make free international calls to friends and family. ‘
Forestry Commission Scotland was a Mela partner and developed a first-class Kid’s Zone, programmed by Glasgow-based artist Joanne Boyce. This offered a wealth of activities to tempt little ones to get creative in the park. For the first time ever, there was a 10m by 10m synthetic ice rink at the event which was free to enjoy. This proved to be a welcome addition for all ages.
Musicians, dance acts and interactive arts performers came from across the Commonwealth to performat this festival . There was also an eclectic mix of more than 50 stalls. From exotic foods, fashion and fabrics and arts and crafts to activities such as henna, hair braiding and face painting. The crowds definitely didn’t go hungry – the smells and tastes of international cuisine from the exotic to the everyday provided temptation at every turn.
Since its launch during Glasgow’s 1990 European City of Culture celebrations, the O2 Glasgow Mela has grown to become the leading festival of its kind in the country. In addition to three main stages (World, Commonwealth and Mehfil) the festival also featured an ice rink, street theatre, a Kids Zone and authentic stalls and catering.
A new network has been set up to help reduce inequalities among people in minority ethnic communities.
Called Alliance Minority Ethnic Empowerment Network (AMEEN), it aims to provide advice and advocacy particularly in housing issues.
The brainchild of Sofi Parveen who is now Chairperson, and friends, it is designed to provide holistic support. Said Sofi: ‘Even though I speak fluent English, I found it frustrating not to be able to access the support I needed and to have to face inequalities in trying to find a job. This organisation will spearhead these issues. We aim to empower families from different cultures and backgrounds. By doing so we will make a powerful statement.’
Funded by Scottish Community Foundation, the group has a working base in Torrisdale Street in Govanhill. It has a drop in session in the nearby Larkfield Centre, Inglefield Street on Tuesdays from 1pm till 4pm and in St Ninian’s Episcopal Church, in Albert Drive, Pollokshields on Thursdays from 1pm till 4pm.
The volunteers who will provide the support for AMEEN clients will be trained and given personal development opportunities.
At the launch event, dramatised accounts of some real life experiences were acted out to show how advocacy can bring a suitable solution to sometimes difficult-to-handle problems.
Said Sofi: ‘Advocacy can play a powerful role in helping people resolve issues of unfair treatment or discrimination.’
Westminster MP Anas Sarwar, reaffirmed his commitment to helping disadvantaged communities in tackling inequalities. ‘He has been brilliant,’ said Sofi. ‘He understands the kind of inequalities we are confronting.’
MSP Hanzala Malik also attended the opening event. ‘He has expressed a supportive attitude,’ said Sofi.
The Housing Support Project aims to help families and individuals who are currently needing advice and support in housing matters. They will be offered free, independent, confidential and culturally sensitive help from AMEEN.
The organisation can be contacted on: mob 07403491660 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org Languages currently spoken include: Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic, Igbo and German as well as English.