THE ANNUAL Indian celebration of culture has been cancelled this year as organisers of the Swindon Mela say they lack the funds to stage the event.
Every year the Town Gardens are transformed into a field of colour as the town comes together to celebrate Indian life and culture, but after the event was forced to be postponed last year, crucial funds were lost.
Organisers say it has been a difficult decision to cancel, but they hope to stage a series of smaller events to build up the kitty ready for next year.
Jaspal Bhui, director of the Swindon Mela, said: “At the moment the decision has been made to cancel the event this year based on a number of factors.
“Over the last few years, because of so much pressure on us from the health and safety issues and so on, the cost has just spiralled far too high.
”With last year’s fiasco delaying the event the only reason it was put on at all was because of the public support, and we did not want to let the people of Swindon down.
“The fact the event was late cost us dearly, the turnout was low and some of the stall holders dropped out. That ate into our reserves.”
Jaspal added confusion over available dates has stalled sponsorship.
“This year we have been asking for a date in the Town Gardens in August, and so far we haven’t had it confirmed,” he said. “Even though now they have said they can pencil us in for August 2 we can’t go ahead and book anything on a pencilled-in date in case it changes.”
“We don’t want to make a repeat of last year. What we are planning to do is to hold smaller events including a bowl concert at the Town Gardens and other smaller fundraising events. Hopefully that will put enough funds in to come back next year.
“It is a very sad day for us because we have been working with the event for so long. Unfortunately that is the way things are going unless we have support from the council.
“We have been contacting them for the last few months and had one of the councillors contact them on our behalf asking why we haven’t been given a date. The Mela is one of the biggest events in the calendar.
“We do not know what new restrictions they might come up with, and it takes time to resolve those issues. Time is something we do not have.”
Swindon Council said they had been attempting to support the organisers with their plans ahead of a meeting due to take place this week and were surprised by yesterday’s announcement.
A spokesman said: “We haven’t been told officially by the organisers that the Mela isn’t going to go ahead this year, and in fact there is a meeting arranged on Wednesday at which they are due to present their event management plan to us and representatives of the emergency services.
“We’re puzzled about the suggestion that the date has not been confirmed, as the organisers have known since last year that August 2 is free and has been kept open for them.
“We’re happy to help in any way we can and hope to meet the organisers as planned on Wednesday.”