Spotlight on... Edinburgh Mela

Leith Links plays host to the Edinburgh Mela this weekend
Leith Links plays host to the Edinburgh Mela this weekend
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LEITH Links explode with music, dance and fire this weekend as the Edinburgh Mela comes of age.

Running from tomorrow evening to Sunday, the 18th Mela will once again challenge your senses with Bhangra beats, delicious food, family fun, global fashion and a selection of music, dance and theatre from around the globe, on three stages.

The event gets off to an explosive start tomorrow evening at 8.30pm with Rama And Sita. Open-air theatre specialists Walk the Plank, team up with Edinburgh Indian dance company Dance Ihayami to tell this ancient love story.

Rama And Sita uses movement, gesture and mime, combined with a spectacular mix of fireworks and shadow puppetry, to take you through the tale, which is remembered every Divali. A free event, get there early for a good view.

Saturday’s action on the main stage starts at 12.30pm with Kakatsitsi, a group of traditional drummers from Jamestown, southern Ghana. Expect traditional rhythms and chants fused with digital beats, bass lines and melodies.

Other acts appearing on the main stage on Saturday include folk ensemble Kutumba from Nepal with the Edinburgh-based Dance Namaste, the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers, and 28-year-old Soumik Datta, who weaves together classical Indian music, punk, synth and electroncia, to create melodic avant garde music.

Later, catch Revive by Jazz & Nish, a live nine-piece Bollywood band featuring the 515 Crew, as they debut playing all the golden oldies, as well as a few recent Bollywood hits, and 23-year-old Edinburgh native Mirza, who aims to stir things up with his own mix of R&B, Bhangra, and Dubstep.

The evening is completed by Bhangra/urban/dance superstar Gubi Sandhu, followed by Punjab-born singer SK1 and multi-lingual pop star Eylem who, inspired by her Turkish roots has enjoyed more than more 15 million hits on YouTube. Finally, Jassi Sidhu, the most recognisable voice to come from the UK bhangra scene returns for a full set with his live band.

On Sunday, the main stage welcomes The Mela Fashion Show, the Edinburgh Chinese Choir, the return of Kutumba with Dance Namaste, Qawali musician Salim Sabri, Stranger Family members Tasha Tah, Ramee & Char Avell and OMG hit-makers DJ Surinder Rattan, Metz & Trix and Joga Singh (they knocked Will.I.Am off the top spot in the Official Music Week UK & Europe Urban Chart).

Brooklyn-based dhol ‘n’ brass band Red Baraat, will bring the Mela to a foot-stomping finish.

Over the two days, meanwhile, the World Dance Feste Stage will bring dance acts from far and wide to Leith, including Taxi! by Avant Garde Dance, which fuses elements of parkour, contemporary and hip hop dance, and is set in, around and on top of a black cab.

Other highlights include Rock-a-bye B-boy by: Tony Mills and Random Aspekts, Scotland’s most established and successful b-boy break dance crew.

For those looking for music, the Mela Mix Tent has it all. From bagpipe dhol to Himalayan song, urban beats to live hip-hop, check out the Mela website for the full programme.

• Edinburgh Mela, Leith Links, tomorrow-Sunday, £3 per day,