As always, I had a great time at Eastleigh’s 12th annual Mela on Sunday 30th July. The word means “a public event held to celebrate a special event” (Cambridge Dictionary) and comes from the Hindu word for a festival.
Ours is a multicultural carnival of music, dance and cuisine with such diverse contributors as; Irish Dancers, Southampton Buddhist Centre, Thai dancers, a band from Afghanistan called the Kabul Boys, traditional Indian dancing, Chinese Lion Dancing, the local Nepalese association, more bands including Crestwood’s Panatical steel drum band, who who always make me feel cheerful when I hear them, and a large range of stalls.
The Eastleigh and Bishopstoke Carnival Queens popped in as did the Mayor of Eastleigh, Cllr Mo Sollitt, who also had a stall supporting her charities. There were many food stalls offering curries, wraps, samosas, naan breads to burgers and chips, coconut drinks, mango lassie and the wonderful iced kulfi cones from the Asian Welfare & Cultural Association stand. I like the mango ones. And the pistachio and coconut ones…
There was a climbing wall and circus craft activities for kids plus a miniature steam engine on a track for the grandparents! I overheard one such talking to a young lad saying “Look, there’s the driver putting coal in the firebox to heat the engine.” Only to have the young kid reply, “What’s coal?”
My, how times have changed! There was still a big queue to ride all the same.
Master chef winner Shelina Permaloo gave a cookery demonstration on the big stage and was later helping out on one of the food stalls along with a pile of her recipe books.
So after enjoying myself by eating too much, and buying too much from all the stalls, including bracelets from the “Aunties” on the AWCA stall and a lovely silk saree from a charity stall, I got up on stage with all my friends from Shailly’s Bollifit class at the Velmore Centre and performed a medley of songs from Indian films in a less-than-classical style of dancing!
The idea is to mix upbeat Bollywood songs with an Indian-based dance workout for exercise. We vary considerably in both age and fitness but the classes are such good fun that you almost don’t notice that you are working out!
We were very well received with a large audience clapping along to the music. Right afterwards Unity Bollywood, a professional dance troupe run by Shailly danced a considerably more energetic set.
The whole free event was masterminded by the AWCA (Eastleigh Asian Welfare and Cultural Association) and Unity 101 FM, our local Asian and Ethnic Radio station, compered by Coco P. in his wonderful, laid back Caribbean accent. The station plays all sorts of music and are looking for volunteer presenters of all ethnicities if you fancy yourselves on air!