Revellers brave rain for Mela festival of diversity and culture

Nusrat Ghani
CENTRE STAGE: Sahrudaya dancers from Kerala in India

Despite rain showers and a few last-minute changes to the line-up, organisers say it did not dampen people’s spirits, and they were ‘delighted’ to have put the event on after it had to be cancelled last year due to Covid.

RAIN DANCE: Festivalgoers enjoy a break from the showers

The festival was organised in partnership by Cohesion Plus and Kent Equality Cohesion Council and supported by Arts Council England and Royal Tunbridge Wells Together.

Revellers saw an exciting series of performances on stage, including the Tunbridge Wells-based Paul Dunton Orchestra and Sahrudaya West Kent Keralites, who performed their high energy performances.

They were followed by the ever-popular Phase 5 Steel Band and Uzambezi African ensemble. Grime and Rap was performed by G Town Talents, before the Mela came to a climax with the Kings of Bhangra Four by Four, who had everyone up and dancing in the midst of the rain.

Off-stage, the children were entertained by the Show Globes ‘Enchanted Flower Garden’, a mobile and interactive life-size snow globe complete with a mythical nymph.

There was a range of food and drink supplied by local traders, and the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Cllr Chris Woodward, was also in attendance. He thanked everyone for coming and supporting the event.

TEAM MELA: Acts, organisers and Tunbridge Wells Mayor Chris Woodward [left of centre]

Gurvinder Sandher, Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus, who produced the Mela, said: “Despite the really bad weather I was delighted with what we were able to achieve.

“It was a challenging day with a last-minute drop-out of acts and stallholders, but we managed to produce an event which brought a smile to those at the festival.

“After the year we have had it was so nice to hear live music again and see the smiles on people’s faces.

“We are truly humbled by the support provided by those in Tunbridge Wells and look forward to delivering another Mela next summer with hopefully better weather!”

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