Diaspora celebrate the best of British Asian culture at Anand Mela

Charusmita & Aaditya Kaza Monday 13th June 2016 18:42 EDT

The weekend of 11th and 12th June witnessed an enthusiastic crowd of more than 6000 people coming together for this year’s Anand Mela. In its 6th year, organised by ABPL Group, Anand Mela hosted 120 performers and 20 performances over two days.

Anand Mela 2016 was inaugurated by the Mayor of Harrow Rekha Shah, Bob Blackman MP, and CB Patel, Publisher/Editor of Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar by lighting the lamp. The inauguration was well attended by the councillors and mayors of the local councils including Navin Shah AM, Cllr Sachin Shah, Cllr Muhammed Butt, Cllr Krishna Suresh, to name a few. Shishukunj, our Charity Partner for this year, had enthusiastic little children representing them on stage along with the dignitaries to celebrate the Queen’s 90th Birthday in a cake-cutting ceremony, followed by the British National Anthem.

Spread around the Byron Hall were a host of stalls and sideshows that gave visitors the chance to not only shop for ethnic jewellery, sarees, traditional wear but also relish Indian street food, sweets, and fresh cupcakes. The children particularly enjoyed the face-painting stall. There were stalls for travel, online tuitions, and a host of other small and large scale businesses that the visitors flocked around during the course of the day.

Shishukunj, our Charity Partner for Anand Mela 2016, is a children’s charity that has been working in London for over 30 years. Through the medium of Indian culture, they try to instil morals and values in children from the age of 5 upwards so that they become responsible and respected leaders of tomorrow’s society. Students from Shishukunj also presented a vibrant folk dance performance for our audience.

The highlights of the cultural show at Anand Mela included theatre, Garba, Bollywood dancing, pop and fusion singing, Vedic harmony and yoga choreography. The stellar line up included Navin Kundra, Honey Kalaria, Muhammed Fahad, Shishukunj, Manorma Joisi, AK Dance Academy, Kishan Amin, Mira Salat, Sai School, Subhendu Banerjee, Jayden, Shishukunj, Ishwar Sharma, and K’z Dance Entertainment.

Navin Kundra, a Guinness World Record holder, has performed for the Royal Family as well as during the Indian PM Modi’s visit to the UK last year. At Anand Mela, he enraptured the audience with his voice – singing songs from the yesteryears, latest Bollywood charts, as well as his own numbers.

Honey Kalaria put together Anand Mela’s Got Talent, a performance bringing together the audience as well as established artists on stage and giving them a chance to be a part of the performing community. She has worked with esteemed celebrities, such as Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai and Beyonce.

Subhendu Banerjee is a theatre personality from West Bengal, India. He performed a solo skit titled ‘Bin Aane ki Bhoj’ (A No-Penny Feast), which was a Hindi representation of the drama ‘Bini Poysar Bhoj’- a popular Farce by Rabindranath Tagore. This humorous play was about an extravagant dandy who relishes his life exploiting others' pocket.

The reaction of the crowd was highly encouraging. Samiksha Pattnaik, an audience member, particularly enjoyed the singing performance by Fahad, “He struck a chord with the audience by recreating the magic of the bygone era through his renditions of classics”.

Fahad’s Rafi shows are popular in the UK, among the Indian and Pakistani diaspora. As one of the attendees, Divya Parmar, said, “His voice has great depth and versatility. He sings songs from different genres and times – from Mohammed Rafi, Kishore Kumar to Sonu Nigaam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. 

6 years old Dhiya was awestruck by Manorma Joisi and Mira Salat’s dance performances. She said, “Mira and Manorma had colourful costumes and beautiful dance moves. Manorma danced to my current favourite – Mohe Rang Do Laal from Bajirao Mastani”. Mira Salat founded Mira’s Performing Arts that has performed at numerous shows including the Shreya Ghoshal concert in May 2013. She teaches Bollywood as well as the classical Kathak dance. Manorma Joisi is a performing artist and is trained in classical Kathak dance. She has performed at The London 2012 Opening and Closing Ceremony and the Queen’s Jubilee (2012).

Nidhi Mehta, a college student, said, “AK Dance Academy got the crowd involved, of all ages, and people made their way out of their seats to dance alongside with them”. AK Dance Academy specialise in Bollywood dance fused with classical, traditional, modern contemporary and hip hop.

Kishan Amin is a versatile performer with various feathers in his cap, such as Sufi music, Bollywood style, and devotional singing. At Anand Mela, Kishan performed latest Bollywood hits like Soch Na Sake that resonated with the audience.

Jayden is a young, sensational singer, songwriter and recording artist whose striking singles ‘Sun Zara’ and ‘Breath Away’ were hits with the listening public, and eventually got him recognised by the BBC Asian Network.

Ishwar Sharma, the UK National Yoga champion, who is also invited to open the World Yoga Championship in Italy next year, has performed across 100 events in the UK. He performed a special yoga-based choreography called the “Vedic yoga with harmony” and moved the audience.

K’z Dance Entertainment, founded by Kalpesh Zalavadiya, was a part of UK Welcomes Modi 2015, Diwali on the Square 2015 as well the Diwali celebrations at the House of Commons 2014 and more. Hiten Dave, an audience member, said, “Kalpesh’s group mesmerised us with a high-energy performance. Garba dance for me was the highlight of the event.”

Property Show and Health Expo (Aarogya Mela) at Anand Mela

The Asset India Property Show and the Health & Wellness Expo took place in the Masefield Suite and Conference Hall on the first floor of the Harrow leisure centre. It was inaugurated by Bob Blackman MP along with various councillors representing the councils of Harrow, Barnet, Ealing and Brent, who then visited the stalls there and interacted with the exhibitors.

From people looking forward to settle in India, to those interested in investing in properties, everybody had an opportunity to interact with the renowned developers from India. The stalls exhibited the properties worth investing in and property experts were present to provide advice related to venturing in the Indian real estate market. The Assets Property Show gave a clear and detailed picture of investment opportunities available in various cities of India, high returns, and the best slots to put your money.

Asset India, who was our main sponsor for the show, is a London-based company formed in 2011 which helps NRIs and PIOs buy and sell Indian real estate. A large proportion of their sales comes through repeat purchases as well as testimony of its clients.

Asian Voice spoke to Salil Kumar of Asset India who shared our enthusiasm, “Partnership with Asian Voice normally works out great due to the crowd which attends the Anand Mela. More crowd means more business. This year we have had a few serious enquires, deals are to be closed very soon”.

There were also developers offering properties in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Hyderabad and a few other cities in India. Asset India also hosted a lucky draw prize, giving away attractive vouchers to the audience members.

For the first time in 6 years, Anand Mela hosted a Health & Wellness Expo organised by Advatech. There were several visitors who showed interest by visiting the stalls and talking about health to the exhibiting hospitals. The exhibitors included MediTaxis, Seeds of Innocence IVF Centre, Shalby Hospital, Chartwall Private Hospital, Medica Super Speciality Hospital, Meril Life Sciences and Meditoura.

Representatives from Advatech had a stage interaction with the audience, giving them advice about general health, benefits of medical tourism and the advanced quality of the health services in India. They also conferred awards to the dignitaries who were present at the Mela. Medica Super Speciality Hospital also spoke about the improving nature of heath technology. Shalby Hospital’s Hiren Karnani also announced attractive discounts on health treatments. The 'Aarogya Mela' was organised solely with the healthcare needs of residents of the UK in mind.

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