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Mela was a 'day for all people'
1:59pm Monday 13th August 2007 in News
AROUND 75,000 people, including the Indian culture minister Monika Nahota, descended on Gunnersbury Park this weekend for one of the largest celebrations of south asian culture in Europe.
The London Mela is a showcase for musicians, dancers, performers, traders and charities from all over the country, with more than fifty food stands alone.
Co-founder and artistic director Ajay Chhabra said: "It was a great day with plenty of high quality work on offer for the huge crowds.
"It really lived up to it's billing yesterday and the good weather after several years of rain really helped to bring the crowds out.
"I was particularly pleased to see so many non-asian people coming and staying for three hours, that says something about the event and the way society is moving that people feel safe mixing with other cultures."
Virendra Sharma, newly elected Labour MP for Ealing-Southall was also at the festival, and even had the chance to introduce a top act to a very youthful audience.
He said: "I was quite honoured as I got to introduce Rishi Rich, who lives in my constituency, on the main stage.
"The people who went there really enjoyed the music and did not look at the colour of the people making the music.
"It was not a day about any particular culture, creed or religion, but a day for people of all backgrounds to come together and understand each other better."
Highlights from the day included Sitar Rhapsody, a tribute to Freddie Mercury's Indian heritage and the finale performance by the legendary Pandit Dinesh, a pioneer of Bangra music.
There was also a large presence from BBC radio with the Asian Network broadcasting live all day and 1 X-tra and Radio 1 DJ's Bobby Friction and Nihal.
Children were also kept entertained by the large funfair and activities in the Magic Mela kids zone with arts and dance lessons.
Ajay said: "It's great to see the musical heritage really shining through as this year we had a band who were big in the eighties called Heera on the main stage, and the next act on was the son of one of them.
"Unfortunately our funding was cut slightly this year so we weren't able to bring in any outdoor theatre, but that really gave us an opportunity to focus on the other areas.
"In the future we are definitely going to look to make it a two day event, to give us scope to get more people in who maybe haven't had a chance to come here yet."