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The Baishakhi Mela (Bengali: বৈশাখী মেলা Boishakhi Mêla) celebrated in London, England, takes place across the area of Banglatown in the borough of Tower Hamlets in East London through Brick Lane to Weavers Field and Allen Gardens in Bethnal Green. The event is a celebration of the Bengali New Year, with musical and cultural events held. It is the largest open-air Asian festival in Europe and the largest Bengali festival outside of Bangladesh. After the Notting Hill Carnival, it is the second-largest street festival in the UK attracting over 80,000 visitors from around the UK. Although, the Bengali new year falls on 14/15 April (1st Boishakh in the Bengali calendar), the festival is held in the second weekend of May on a Sunday to mitigate against the higher risk of rain during the month of April. Having started in 1997, the 10th anniversary of the mela was celebrated in 2007.

Contents

Event

History

The Baishakhi Mela was launched in Brick Lane, and celebrations of the Bengali New Year have been celebrated by the Bangladeshi community in England, since 1997. The original event based in Bangladesh and West Bengal is called the Pohela Baishakh. This festival was created for the purpose of the Bangladeshi diaspora living in the UK. It was organized by the local people, and is now managed by the Baishakhi Mela Trust Ltd, a non-profit organization.

The Baishakhi Mela is a unique festival, which has been created by a generation of Bangladeshi people who want to celebrate the Bangla New Year. It inspires the British Bangladeshi community to be more creative during the arrival of the event, through the production and the presentation skills of excellent and innovative ideas through participation in the Baishakhi Mela, including the stage planning, music and dancing. Other than creating the event for the purposes of celebrations for the community, it is also aims to gain recognition of the Bengali people in the London, by providing different cultures to some British people, and by encouraging them to participate in the event as well, as well as recognizing the Bangladeshi presence in London. Also providing the people the skills and opportunities for the young aspirations as well as professional artists to perform their music or dances.

Previously Bangla TV was the main broadcaster of the Baishakhi Mela event, however since 2005, Channel S has acquired the rights to broadcast the event due to its commitment to the community (the slogan is working for the community), achieving popular support from the main sponsors within the community.

Procession

The event starts first during the morning from 12am at Allen Gardens, London|Allen Gardens, through Brick Lane and ends in Weavers Field. This is known as the Grand Parage, where there are women and children dressed in colourful Bengali traditional clothes and masks. There will also be musicians or drummers, including dancers and also the leaders from the community. During the 2008 Mela, a great emperor was leading the parade symbolising the traditional landlord of the Indian subcontinent, along with a tiger, an elephant on wheels, rickshaws, and many others.[1] Brick Lane, which is home to many Bangladeshi-owned Indian restaurants, serves curry along the streets for the visitors, with traditional Bengali cuisine meals, and cooked by prominent chefs from Bangladesh.[2]

The Tower Hamlets council poster of the Baishakhi Mela

After the parade, it will finally progress into the Music Programme, where there will be famous music artists from Bangladesh and the UK, dancers and actors performing on stages. The four stages will host Bengali music, theatre including Sylheti drama, and there will also be dance displays throughout the day. The music performed features a wide range of Bengali music, these include traditional Bengali or folk songs,[3] as well as modern, contemporary music, and rap music in Bangla or Sylheti. Bhangra and Bollywood are also sometimes performed by singers.[1]

2009: Tower Hamlets council

Since 2009, the management and planning of the mela was under the Tower Hamlets Council for the long-term, and called the event "a Baishakhi Mela in Banglatown Brick Lane".[4] It was held on 10 May 2009, attracting up to 95,000 people which is a record high of the event. There were more than 250 school children, dancers, musicians and community groups which participated in the event alongside a mechanical Bengali Tiger and the Bangla Queen, which is a four metre tall peacock structure. The mela also included with nearly 200 stalls serving Bengali spices, food and drinks. It featured many popular artists from Bangladesh and the UK, such as Momtaz, Kajol Dewan, one of the highlights included Nukul Kumar with his song "Dunya te Sylhet Zila Shobche Boro". [5] One of the popular among the younger generation was Mumzy, who is a leading British Bengali MC and DJ in the East End of London. Other guest singers included Lucy Rahman, Kala Miah and others. The stages were hosted by Adil Ray, Shawkat Hashmi, Kan-D-Man also many more. The main sponsors of the event was BBC Asian Network and Channel S.[6]

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See also

References

External links








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