CROWDS flocked to Faringdon Road park to enjoy a marvellous mixture of music, dancing and family fun at Swindon's first Boishaki Mela.

This event celebrated Bengali New Year in style with funfair rides, spicy curries, Bollywood dances.

Sanjay Vish's eight-year-old daughter Shreya took part in a Bollywood dance on-stage and rewarded herself with some time on the bouncy castle afterwards. Sanjay, from Gorse Hill, said: "I was quite proud of her, that's why I went to the Mela with some friends, to watch her. She loves watching and being in dance performances. After that, we just chilled out, there was a lot on the programme so there was plenty of things to enjoy."

The emergency services and territorial army each brought a vehicle to show interested guests, who crowded around the police van, fire engine, ambulance and military truck to find out more about them and pose for pictures.

Nine-and-a-half-year-old Jessica Piff from Penhill enjoyed playing with the police sirens while her mum Kailee Higgs and eight-month-old brother Jayden looked on.

Kailee said: "It's nice that they do things like this so the children are aware of what the police do and can talk to them and not see them as strangers.

"This was a really nice day, there was so much to see, we would definitely come back next year. Jessica liked the Henna tattoos and won teddy bears in a raffle, and Jayden was very well-behaved, he was just in his pram taking it all in."

Mayor of Swindon Junab Ali and Coun Abdul Amin co-organised the mela with sponsorship from numerous local businesses and community groups to bring people together and raise money for the mayor's charities TWIGS Community Gardens, Swindon 105.5 and the Harbour Project.

The lineup included music from Nish, SmashBengali and Rowshanara Moni, plus an array of folk songs, dance performances and a fashion show.

Coun Ali said: "It was a wonderful day and I hope this is just the first of many events like this because it was fantastic to see people from all walks of life having a good time. There is a huge amount of diversity in Swindon and celebrating different cultures with public events like this helps to spread understanding and get rid of prejudice and racism.

"It doesn't matter what background you are from, we should all be proud Swindonians and interact with each other peacefully and happily."