Mela Festival highlights 
area’s cultural diversity

Despite the overcast weather, more than 4,000 people attended the 14th Mela, the festival that highlights diversity through music, food and dance.

Local group Fireflies opened proceedings, followed by acts such as Just Dance – a troupe of primary school aged children performing Hollywood and Bollywood fusion.

Local favourite the Paul Dunton Orchestra also played.

Other highlights included a life-size papier-mâché elephant walking through the crowd with an entourage of singers, dancers and drummers, while the Dancing Maharajas and Sahrudaya demonstrated music and dance from South India.

The event, which was organised by Cohesion Plus and the Kent Equality Cohesion Council with the support of Arts Council England, had free acrobatic aerial workshops, as well as arts and crafts activities for the public to enjoy.

Festival goers were also able to immerse their taste buds in cultural offerings from a number of food stalls from North and South India, the Caribbean, Thailand and Greece. There were also ice cream, doughnuts and fudge to enjoy and tipples served by the Tunbridge Wells Forum bar.

Gurvinder Sandher, Mela Festival Director, said: “I have been involved with the festival from the start and am always amazed by the positive response we get to the event. This year was no exception.

“Despite the early poor weather, the community of Tunbridge Wells came out to support us and were rewarded with an exciting programme on and off stage, an array of food stalls and by mid-afternoon the sunshine.

“I am very grateful to all the volunteers who work with us to make the Mela Festival happen and I am already looking ahead to 2020 although at this stage we do not know if it will be in Calverley Grounds.”

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