It was that exciting time of year again for the Indians of South Australia – time for the annual Indian Mela in Victoria Square, smack-dab in the heart of Adelaide. Organised over two days by the Indian Australian Association of SA (IAASA) on the first weekend of March, the event was marked by beautiful cultural performances, delicious food, and plenty of other fun activities.
The sound and sights onstage and spicy aromas wafting from the food stalls turned lots of heads, and you couldn’t blame anyone for stopping in their tracks to take in a Bollywood dance or savour a samosa chat.
There were fun workshops to enjoy such as a Bolly-Zumba dance class, an art workshop, and even cooking demonstrations.
One of the demonstrators was none other than Promila Gupta OAM who taught us how to make chocolate burfi. Yum!
The entertainment on stage was a great mix of dance and music with several local bands or individual singers taking to the stage. Amongst other talented musicians was included a young singer named Harpinder and a Kannada songs group under the Shruthi Adelaide banner who gave us some regional cultural flavour.
The dance performances were an enjoyable mix of classical, semi-classical, fusion and everything in between. The variety of talent showcased was incredible. The mela began with a Bharatanatyam performance by 16-year-old Kanupriya to Raag Malhaar and then to a well-known Shiva Stuti in remixed fusion music. Representing Shruthi Adelaide, her performance was a great way to start mela – classical style with a little modern twist!
Another noteworthy dance performance was by Sangeetha Venkitt who brought classical Kathakali to this year’s mela. It was part of the ‘official’ segment for Mela’s important
visitors. The guest of honour Mr. Hieu Van Le, Governor of South Australia, was joined by leaders of both parties as well as the Speaker of the House. They were welcomed and led across the mela ground to the stage with band baaja by Shivagarjana, Adelaide’s wonderful drummers.
In his speech, Mr Hieu Van Le commended the involvement of the vibrant Indian community in the multicultural fabric of the state, as well as their contributions towards bushfire relief.
We can proudly say that the Indian community in South Australia came together to raise nearly $5,000 through the Indian Australian Association of South Australia (IAASA). A
cheque for the said amount was presented to Ms. Jing Lee, Assistant Minister to the Premier, for the Premier’s Relief Fund. She too praised the Indian community’s donations of over $40,000 across different organisations towards the cause.
At the mela, the Governor of South Australia and other important guests were able to sit back and get a glimpse of India’s best cultural offerings through the mela’s carefully
selected performances. Traditional dances representing several states like Kerala, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kashmir, Punjab, and Orissa were performed with pre-recorded messages about each state. Adelaide’s dance schools weren’t far behind, showcasing their well-choreographed, beautifully coordinated performances.
Of course, an Indian mela is incomplete without a little bit of Bollywood! Popular hits had the crowd clapping and dancing along, playing Hindi and Punjabi numbers well into the night. We’re sure Niraj Pandya, Cultural Coordinator of the mela, was understandably proud of the success of the mela’s cultural showcase!
Trimann Gill, Mela Coordinator, praised his small but effective team. “The cultural team, even though only it was only three people, did a great job of organising entertainment as well as workshops.” He also pointed out that sponsorship from Indian businesses along with large companies like banks and car dealers helped in organising a high-quality, free event.
Another year, another Mela… hugely successful and thoroughly enjoyed by all!