THE Edinburgh Mela makes its return to Leith Links this weekend in a three-day event celebrating the city’s rich diversity.
A vibrant programme of events will stand up the celebrations starting on Friday night before coming to a close on Sunday.
Kicking off the festivities are Edinburgh band Shooglenifty who are taking to the stage with Asian musicians Dhun Dora to launch their collaborative album Written in Water.
Saturday sees an eclectic mix of performances from the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band, lion and dragon dances, as well as a fashion show, more live music from Scottish and Asian performers and a turn on the stage by the premier Bollywood entertainer, Faraz Khan.
Musical lovers are in for a treat as day turns into night as the Bhangra Beatles storm the stage with a mix of Beatles’ classic set to the soundtrack of Punjabi folk music.
Soul Nation, a collective of professional vocalists based in Scotland, will be hot on their heels to deliver a set that artfully mixes soul, pop and gospel tunes. Jamaician musician Claudius England will close the show.
Sunday brings an Indian circus to the Links that features a cast of Indian dancers, puppeteers, aerialists, acrobats, musicians and rope walkers in an exciting show. More music is on the cards with Indian and Pakistani singers and musicians taking to the stage including Miss India Scotland, Rameet Sandhu who has recently signed a big Bollywood record deal. And don’t forget the dancers as Flamenco and Bollywood troupes show what they’re made of throughout the day.
There will be a marketplace where visitors can browse and buy. Food from around the globe will be on offer as well as organised fun for the wee ones at the Mela Kidzone.
Funded by the City of Edinburgh Council, Creative Scotland and lottery funding, organisers are hoping to welcome thousands to the event.
Chair of this year’s Mela, Professor Sir Geoff Palmer said: “The Mela is very important to the city. It is a community organised event and it is crucial in terms of raising awareness of other cultures. It is an important celebration for everyone to enjoy.
“The board have worked hard this year on the programme. It’s terribly important that we celebrate each others’ differences – we are different but we are the same.”
The first black professor in Scotland and current Professor Emeritus at Heriot-Watt University, Sir Geoff came to the city in 1964 from Jamaica and knows how important it is to welcome everyone and honour different cultures.
He said: “Edinburgh has always had that ethos and so has the Mela. It is important for the wellbeing, peace and harmony in the city. We have that between communities here and it is critical that we maintain that.
“I’ve experienced it myself coming over from Jamaica a long time ago. It’s so important for people to have the opportunity to connect. With music and dance there is no language division. All these things help the communities we live in come together.”