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The fate of Mela is in your hands
Buy this photo » The fate of Mela is in your hands
ORGANISERS have urged visitors to speak out on where they would like to see the Swindon Mela staged in future years, after another day of widespread success despite cooler temperatures on Saturday.
The Old Town Gardens provided the setting for an assault on the senses, with an array of colours, tastes, music and smells showcasing the diversity of South Asian arts and culture in Swindon.
Mela officials expected 14,000 visitors across the seven-hour-event, whilst they tightly marshalled numbers in the grounds at any one time, after complications emerged over the park’s capacity earlier this summer, putting the event in doubt.
Sticking to the limit of 10,000 people at any one stage, there were no outbreaks of trouble, little congestion and no hitches in preparation, which qualified the decision of council leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick) to put the event on, according to one organiser.
Bruce Clarke, a Mela director, said: “Today’s event has confirmed our faith in the people of Swindon. The support for the Mela has been fabulous. The point is there has never, ever been any trouble at a Mela in its 11 years in the Town Gardens.
“Where should it be held? That’s self-explanatory. Our record for putting on safe events, year after year, should speak for itself.
“The decision for where it should be, should be in the hands of the visiting public.”
At noon the festival was opened by chairman of the Mela project Jaspal Singh Bhui, followed by opening speeches from Swindon mayor, Nick Martin (Con, Shaw) and council leader David Renard (Con, Haydon Wick), a cake-cutting ceremony and a procession from the bandstand to the showcase stage.
Coun Martin said: “The only worry has been the numbers here today, but I think the cooler weather has limited that factor.
“The residents of Old Town stream in here, and there’s a reason for that. There are bags of good food and lots of interesting things to see.
“The borough officers have been getting around the site testing the quality of the good food, which they have been very happy about.”
As well as an impressive set list for music and dance, there was also plenty on offer at the activity zone with a fun session for couples to prove their turban-tying skills, an opportunity to learn how to cook easy, healthy, and authentic dishes with local leader Terri Rhind, Carrom Board workshops, Henna and Sari Tying, Tai Chi workshops and a cafe zone.
There were also 100 elephants decorated in the activities zone in a session led by Swindon Inter-Active Art Service.
Jay Nadeem, 29, who was working on the food stall An Indian Affair, has visited other Asian culture events across the country, but favours Swindon’s effort.
“This is a really well-organised event. The location is very unique here, very different to other Melas I have been to,” he said.
“I prefer it like this; people get to walk around beautiful surroundings whilst they enjoy the content of the festival itself.”
Tom Payne, 19, a bank cashier, of Northern Road, was visiting the Mela and gave a thumb’s up to the event.
He said: “It’s a really good event, there’s a nice vibe going on here. The food is great.”
Ryan Horan, also 19, a supermarket assistant of Blunsdon, said: “It’s more than just the food here; it’s a genuinely decent day out.
“Not enough goes on in Swindon on weekends, so events like this will always be welcome.”
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