Tag Archives: maidstone mela

Crowds Gather for the Maidstone Community Mela!

The Maidstone Community Mela returned to Whatman Park on Sunday 22nd July for another sun soaked day of music, food and dance after months of tireless fund raising. The Mela which has taken place in Maidstone since 2003 was organised by Cohesion Plus working in partnership with Kent Equality Cohesion Council, local partners and volunteers.

2018 marks the second year the Community Mela has been hosted in Whatman Park and despite the venue change crowds turned up in their hundreds. The change of location from Mote Park to Whatman Park has sparked some contention amongst Community Mela loyalists however, without financial support from the local authority returning to Mote Park has proven incredibly difficult.

The event was officially opened by Maidstone’s Mayor Cllr David Naghi and Helen Grant MP who talked about the importance of the Mela and also paid tribute to the late Morel D’Souza, the founder of the Maidstone Mela by presenting a commemorative plaque to his wife Karin D’Souza. Gurvinder Sandher, the Artistic Director of the Community Mela went on to speak about Mr. D’Souza’s extensive community work and his wish for an event that brought the diverse communities of the borough together to celebrate their own uniqueness and shared British values.

The Community Mela presented music, food and dance from around the world accompanied by a diverse stage programme which included acts such as Dance Asia, Kitka Bulgarian Folk Dance, Maidstone Nepalese Community Group, Reel Eire Irish Dancers, Brazilian trio Lambrego and Cohesion Plus’s own production the Folkin Fusion Drumming Collective. The event was headlined by world renowned Bob Marley tribute act Tanni Browne who performed the famous hits of the legendary reggae star.

Off stage there was also a vibrant interactive performance from Kudos Combat’s Chinese Lions who caused mischief amongst the crowds. Activities also included creative arts workshops and information stands from a range of partners such as Kent Police, Unison, Gullands and National Citizens Service. There were also cuisines from all around the world for event comers to enjoy ranging from Indian, Chinese, Nepalese, and German to freshly prepared juices and desserts.

According to Gurvinder Sandher the Mela Artistic Director: “Lots of time and effort has gone into putting together this community celebration and we have had to overcome many challenges to get this far.
The Maidstone Community Mela is very close to my heart as it is our longest running event and to me it is about bringing the communities of the borough together, celebrating our shared values and the positive community relations we enjoy. The Community Mela has suffered some setbacks over the past couple of years such as the lack of financial support and recently the loss of its founder Mr. D’Souza however, valuable support has been provided by local community groups and volunteers to who we are incredibly grateful to. Their support bolstered our drive to not only deliver the Mela but to make sure it was the best it could be and I believe we have achieved this.”

Maidstone Mela Returns for 13th Year!

The popular Maidstone Mela – one of the largest Melas in the South East – will return to Mote Park for its 13th year on Sunday 13 September. The free festival is a celebration of the borough’s cultural diversity and local talent, with food, music and dance from around the world. Entertainment starts at 12:30pm, with the final act finishing at 6:30pm.

Exciting culturally diverse artists performing at the Mela include local band The Choos, Bulgarian Folk Dance Group Kitka, Dancers from the Kerala Cultural Association, popular Irish group Real Eire Dance, drama group GDS Productions, and Anaconda an award winning belly dance troupe specialising in Egyptian, Bolly, Romany, Tribal and Fusion. They will be joined by up and coming local trio Imminent, Piwnica pod Aniolami (Cellar under the Angels), an exciting Polish folk group who will bring a flavour of Eastern Europe to the Mela, the Maidstone Nepalese Community Group who have supported and performed at every Mela since its inception and the colourful and dynamic Four by Four Bhangra Dancers. Headlining the stage will be The Trenchtown Experience, an 8 piece band dedicated to the music of reggae legend Bob Marley.

In addition to the stage programme, visitors can try food from across the globe, explore craft and clothing stalls, and find out more about local charities and community groups to get involved with.

Councillor Gordon Newton, Chairman of Maidstone council’s Heritage, Culture and Leisure Committee, said: “The Maidstone Mela is a fantastic celebration of Maidstone’s cultural diversity, and it’s an event that the council is very proud to be involved with. This year’s event promises to be a wonderful day, and I encourage everyone to get involved with everything on offer – dance to the music, taste something you’ve never tried before, and enjoy the exciting atmosphere!”

Gurvinder Sandher the Artistic Director of Cohesion Plus commented “I am proud that we have been involved with every Mela since it started. I could never have envisaged all those years ago that the Mela would have grown like it has. We are very pleased with the culturally diverse stage programme we have with the majority of the acts from and around Maidstone, and we hope the local community will come out as it has in previous years to support this fantastic showcase of culturally diverse arts and food. Much credit needs to be given to Maidstone Borough Council for their ongoing support for the Mela.”

The event has been organised by Maidstone Borough Council in partnership with Cohesion Plus and Kent Equality Cohesion Council.

Poster 4x4    Poster Anaconda

Poster Imminent   Poster Kerela

Maidstone Mela 2015 Details

The Maidstone Mela will be taking place on September 13 at Mote Park between 12.30 and 6.30pm.

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There is an exciting stage programme featuring a range of culturally diverse artists including Bulgarian Folk Group Kitka, Kerala Cultural Association, Real Eire Irish Dance, Piwnica Polish Cabaret, Maidstone Nepalese Community Group, Four by Four Bhangra Group and Bob Marley Tribute the Trenchtown Experience.

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There will also be a wide array of stalls and stands including the principal Mela sponsor Mid Kent College, as well food from around the World.

For further information on stalls please contact Liz Flynn on lizflynn@maidstone.gov.uk

For further information on the stage programme please contact Gurvinder Sandher on info@cohesionplus.com

Maidstone Mela Carnival Friday September 12 2014

The Mela celebrations will be officially launched on Friday September 12 when the Maidstone Mela Carnival will take place. Involving 8 local schools and over 400 children the Carnival will start outside County Hall at 1.35pm go along Week Street into Fremlin Walk before finishing on Jubilee Square just after 2pm. In addition to the children who will be showcasing visual art pieces which they will create in workshops which will be delivered by arts company Same Sky there will be a range of culturally diverse musicians including the Four by Four Dhol Drummers and Bloco Fogo Samba Group.

The Carnival is being delivered as part of a creative arts project being delivered by Cohesion Plus which is funded by Arts Council England across Gravesham, Dartford, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge Malling titled “Kent Mela Festival Project 2014” 

For further information please contact Gurvinder Sandher on 01474 369329 

Maidstone Mela Launch 2010

The formal launch of the Maidstone Mela took place on July 14 with some 350 children joined by teachers and parents parading through the town centre led by Dhol Players, African Drummers and the Bloco Fogo Samba Group. The launch was made possible due to funding secured from Arts Council England.

The schools worked with our partners the renowned arts company Samesky on visual displays which the schools showcased during the parade. The schools involved were St Michael’s CE Junior, Archbishop Courtenay Primary, St Francis Primary, Hollingbourne Primary and West Borough.

The launch event parade started outside Marks and Spencer in Week Street, it then went down Fremlin Walk, into Earl Street, back up Week Street before finishing at Brenchley Gardens where the acts involved in the parade performed for a short time before the Mayor of Maidstone Cllr. Eric Hotson raised the Mela Flag to formally launch the celebrations and activities for the Mela in September.

Gurvinder Sandher the Director of Cohesion Plus said “The Mela launch here in Maidstone goes from strength to strength and it was so great to see so many people coming out and supporting the parade. I am very grateful for the supported provided by Arts Council England without which this event would not be able to happen. The feedback from schools has also been really positive”

Photos courtesy of Sarah Knight and Chris Brunt.

 

Dance at Mela 2009

One of the most exciting aspects of the Maidstone Mela is the different dance forms performed at the event. The 2009 Mela saw many varieties of dance entertain audiences.

The Mandy Ellen Performing Arts School performed contemporary dances fusing soft piano melodies with hard edge street beats. The male and female dancers dressed in black dance clothes swayed on the stage with intrinsic dance moves and steps. Projecting modern forms of dance and street style moves in their act.

The dance school is based in Maidstone and encourages local participation. In 2008, the school formed Hip Hop crews and competed in their first regional competition and came 3rd. Some of the performers from the were lucky enough to reach the Live Semi Finals of Britains Got Talent on ITV1 in 2008 and 2009 which is such a fabulous achievement.

Bhangra dancing was performed on stage by Dhol and Dhaki Fusion featuring the 4×4 Dancers, who performed to music from Michael Jackson to traditional dhol beats of the Punjab. The Bhangra dancing was accompanied by numerous dhol players and a singer on stage singing folklore songs to the loud beats.

Bollywood dancing was performed by girls from Mahua Arts. They performed to Bollywood hits like ‘Nach Leh,’ ‘Duhai Hai Duhai’ and ‘Dhola Re’ from Devdas.

The Kent Indian Dance Academy dancer Priya performed a classical and traditional Bharatanatyam dance. Nepalese and Greek communities and even a Gothic Morris dance troop performed too.

Diversity dominates Mela 2009

More than 10,000 people attended the 2009 Maidstone Mela, which celebrated the diversity of the borough through music, food and dance. The Mela was organised in partnership by Maidstone Borough Council and North West Kent Racial Equality Council.

As well as exciting acts on stage, there were more than 60 stalls ranging from diverse local community organisations such as the Finnish Community Association, Congo Action, Voluntary Action Maidstone and Dawn Patrol Rotary Club to public sector agencies such as Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue, the Environment Agency and HM Prison Service, as well as a special Maidstone Borough Council information village.

The previous Mayor Elect of Maidstone, Morel D’Souza, himself Goan, is married to Karin who is from Finland, and they were both promoting diversity of cultures as part of the Finish Community Association, present at the Mela.

For children there was a range of fairground attractions and activities such as dhol drumming workshops, which proved to be very popular.

One of the great things at a mela that brings people together is food. And the food stalls at the Maidstone Mela were a big hit with dishes from Finland, Britain, India, China, Poland, Thailand and Greece.

Jassi Sidhu rocks Maidstone Mela 2009

The 7th Maidstone Mela proved to be a great success. For the first time with the help of funding form Arts Council England the Mela took place over 2 days.

The Mela Night featured Bhangra Star Jassi Sidhu who performed with his full live band. He wooed the crowd with a string of his hits from over the last decade. Although the majority of the crowd would not have understood the lyrics Jassi managed to create a positive interaction with them and by the end many of them were dancing along to the bhangra beat.

Jassi was followed on stage by Mercury a Queen Tribute Band who proved to be as equally popular. In addition to the live performances plus there was an amazing light installation by Emergency Exit Arts which had been commissioned by Cohesion Plus.