A new decade of multicultural magic was ushered in as the programme for the eleventh Belfast Mela was launched amidst a whirl of internationally-flavoured creativity in The Mac, Belfast.
The preview performance set the scene for the global entertainment and atmosphere which will bring with it a cultural wealth of nations to Belfast’s Botanic Gardens on Sunday August 27.
Delivering Northern Ireland’s largest annual celebration of diversity is the award-winning ethnic arts organisation, ArtsEkta. Looking forward to drawing attendances of 30,000+ the founder and executive director Nisha Tandon said the event has never been more important to the city and region it serves.
She explained: “The Belfast Mela – the name originates from the Sakskrit word meaning ‘to meet’ – is a celebration of our continuing journey to become a truly shared and cosmopolitan society where communities come together harmoniously and with mutual respect. With recent events at home, and across the world, the significance of this has never been more important. As a society we should continue to forge new friendships, increase understanding of others and find strength in our community spirit.
“Those are serious and important concepts, but diversity is of course a cause for celebration. Belfast Mela combines craic, camaraderie and culture from around the world with a wonderful spirit of exuberance and, over the last decade, Belfast has truly taken the event to its heart. This year we’re looking forward to a people’s party in the park which will show the world just how far the city has come.”
This year Belfast Mela celebrations will launch with an early ‘extra’ at The MAC, Belfast on Friday August 25th when acclaimed Sufi singer Salam Sabri will present an evening of Indian Qawwali music – a form of Sufi devotional music dating back over 700 years and still popular across the Indian Sub-Continent.
On the afternoon of Sunday August 27th Botanic Gardens will be the setting for the Belfast Mela festival of global identities, with an exotic, colourful – and joyously noisy – carnival parade launching the showcase of culture and cuisine from all four corners of the world.
The main Mela stage will feature a packed programme of music, dance, arts and performance, entertaining easy-going crowds gathered on a lawn which will be encircled by marquees offering everything from henna hand painting and ethnic retail to aromatic and exotic food and drink and featuring acclaimed personality chef, the Urban Rajah, in The Mela taste Theatre.