After a Tory-imposed austerity hiatus of four years, the Mela was back in Croydon on Saturday.
Wandle Park was transformed into a forum of colour, sound and celebration.
Here, with contributions from numerous loyal readers, is a small selection of images from the day.
Croydon’s Mela had previously been staged in Lloyd Park, but for its return in 2017 the event was moved to Wandle Park for this celebration of the culture of Croydon’s Asian communities and showcasing a combination of international musical artists, local talent, extraordinary dance and spectacular street theatre.
The day’s events were completely free of charge, running from lunchtime through to dusk on a thankfully dry, if slightly chill, autumn evening.
“Love” was the theme of this spectacular first edition, a celebration of the positive force that makes the world go round and brings all communities together.
With support from the Labour-run council and the Mayor of London, Colors Croydon International Mela offered a timely symbol of our diverse city, that stands strong and united in the current divisive times.
Colors Croydon International Mela was one big melting pot of a party celebrating through music, dance, food and culture, the traditions of the huge number of diverse communities who live as one in London’s dynamic city.
The Mela featured the best in British Asian urban artists, Asian artists, dance, Bollywood, classical music, comedy and cabaret, Asian-influenced street theatre and dance across three stages.
The main stage, in association with Sunrise Radio, featured performances from rappers Raxstar and Tazzz, Tasha Tah and Bhangra sensation H Dhami.
Headlining the stage was veteran crooner Arjun.
The Wandle Park Mela also featured an extraordinary dance programme featuring Croydon’s vibrant dance scene featuring the best in South Asian classical, Bollywood and street dance, programmed on the Main Stage and two other performance areas.
The Croydon Conservatives – the very people who withdrew funding from the Croydon Mela in the first place – had the bare-faced audacity to take a stand in an attempt to politicise what was supposed to be an apolitical event.
Positioned close to a community policing stand – presumably to ensure that Croydon’s Tories did not start any trouble – the Conservative tent seemed to draw few members of the public to hear their jaded message.
And as the daylight began to fade, a hush descended briefly on the park as performers readied themselves for a spectacular finale.
Around a dozen drummers emerged, their faces painted like gold and green harlequins, in suitably spectacular costumes.
Their rhythmical drumming vibrated around the park and the thousands of rapt spectators who had gathered through the day.
Once in position, the need for the tall tower crane which had overshadowed the park became clear.
Like life-sized marionettes, the drummers were hoisted into the night sky, floodlit and twirling above the Croydon crowd, who were suitably impressed.
That will take some beating when the Mela returns, as it should, in 2018.
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