BELFAST Mela organisers said Sunday’s Botanic Gardens event was the “biggest and best to date”. Over 20,000 people attended the day-long festival of Eastern culture and cuisine, making the annual gathering one of Ireland’s largest multi-cultural festivals.

Arts group ArtsEkta put on the mammoth show, which featured a diverse range of music, and – in the spirit of a sporting summer – even a chance for visitors to try their hand at traditional South Asian sports.

Nisha Tandon, ArtsEkta’s Director, spoke at the Mela, and praised all who helped organise the event as well as those who attended.

“Now in our sixth year, this year’s Mela has been the biggest and best to date,” she said. “The weather has been glorious, Botanic Gardens was packed to capacity and the atmosphere has been electric. Northern Ireland is embracing its cultural diversity and it is wonderful to see so many people across all cultures and communities come together to celebrate and enjoy those differences which make us all unique.”

Musical highlights included British Bhangra band DCS, Congolese singer/songwriter Niwel Tsumba, and a performance in the new ‘luxurious’ Maharaja Tent stage from renowned British Asian musician and composer Kuljit Bharma, whose repertoire includes a collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber on the hit musical ‘Bombay Dreams’.