Belfast Mela – Well Worth Going

Spent Saturday evening and (virtually) all of Sunday at the Belfast Mela – an Indian-led multicultural festival celebrating diversity, understanding, music, arts and good food … or so … a huge carnival of cultures with Chinese dragons, Indian rock-reggae-banghra-fusion, spicy stuff, stalls, circus performances, the unavoidable politicians (who kept it short, thankfully) and, above all, family fun. Thousands flocked into the Botanic Gardens to participate or simply enjoy. And I guess most will be back next time …

Here are some images, though they really do not do justice to the event as a whole:


Saturday night started off (once it had actually started …) with “Spellbound” – some people might have confused this with the artistic troupe of “Britain’s Got Talent” fame – a lavish production of an Indian folk tale involving Prince Rama, Hanuman, a ten-headed demon and so on, just your normal fair. Warming up the whole proceedings were some fire dancers from FirePoise, drummers and parades …


Then the play started, featuring a storyteller and some imaginative back-lit shadow play. Certainly very different and having almost everybody … well … Spellbound. And causing some jumps due to pyrotechnics.


In the end, the ten heads of the evil guy exploded, literally, and went up in flames. When I told a guy the next day, he asked, “Was it meant to happen … I mean … this is Belfast after all?”


Sunday was more peaceful and the sun drenched us most of the time. Giving even the circus director (who doubled as buffoon and musician) a chance to work on his tan. While he did that …


… we were seduced by the chatty, funny and very welcoming lads from Bollywood Spices to sample a bit of South Indian food. Or was it North Indian? After three portions with generous helpings we were a bit confused. Recommended!


Mind you, not all food was Indian … these ladies gave the most dazzling smiles though. That was before the gates opened and the rush started. Later they were very busy indeed. Talking about service with a smile …


… the PSNI certainly has come a long way!


These ladies certainly were not needed at the Mela in their professional capacity, so they could join in the fun. Mentioning fun …


… it can’t be much fun to tie a kimono. Certainly took some time. But she did a splendid job.


Even more complicated dressing-up – this Kathakali dancer from Kerala (a male dancer in a female role nonetheless) had his work cut out for him. The performance in the Maharajah tent was intense and exhausting too.


Very unfazed and relaxed … a Chinese lady doing her calligraphy for visitors. Which was popular. As was …


… the circus dancer doing henna tattoos … which some visitors promptly smeared. It is an art to make them, to have the patience to let them dry properly and then to carry them off with style. Mentioning the circus …


… the musician was bemused at times. His traditional costume clashed with the drumming sensation that is Virtue, very energetic drumming along to a DJ set, quite popular with everyone.


One of the highlights was, certainly, Kissmet – the Banghra Rock Fusion group put together by the Singh brothers from Peterborough. If you have never heard “Whole Lotta Love” seguing into Indian sounds with a very distinctive drumbeat … you simply missed a treat.


So, Belfast Mela … success! Back next year … wave the reader “Goodbye!”, Buzz …


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