The London Mela is a colourful kaleidoscope of music, dance and culture which usually takes place annually in Southall Park, the very heart of Europe’s oldest Asian community.
Artistic Director Ajay Chhabra and Producer Julian Rudd lead the vision, development and delivery of the London Mela. They joined forces in 2002 and delivered the first london Mela in 2003. Drawing on their collective experiences in festivals, outdoor arts, theatre, film and dance, the original vision was to create a multi art form, free to public, pan london Mela, accessible to all audiences. This vision, combined with our core values of access for all, integrity and authenticity with all our partners, sponsors and artists continues to be at the heart of the London Mela team.
Since the 1950s, South Asians have been settling in Southall, which is sometimes known as “Little India”. Its proximity to Heathrow has meant that the South Asian population has thrived in the area, creating a hotbed of culture, commerce and gastronomy. The London Mela will be an exciting opportunity for locals and the wider London community to experience Asian music, dancing and cuisine in the centre of British Asian life.
History of the London Mela
In 2003, the first London Mela took place, it attracted 60,000 people proving how successful and popular a pan-London mela could be. Now 16-years on and an established highlight in the capital’s cultural calendar, the London Mela is an artistically led celebration of Asian culture and creativity, inspired by South Asia and the Diaspora.
The London Mela is reinventing mela outside of South Asia. It is one of the only melas in the country to commission new work, and it provides a platform for emerging British artists as well as bringing traditional and classical art forms to a wider audience.
Critically acclaimed, the London Mela features the best in classical music, British Asian urban artists, dance, comedy and cabaret, Asian-influenced street theatre and circus, and exhibitions. And with a third of the audience from non-Asian communities, it is a truly inter-cultural family event with something for every generation of every community.
What is a Mela?
Melas originate from the Indian sub continent. The word Mela comes from the sanskrit “to meet” and is related to “milana” the verb to tune. It is commonly used to describe a large gathering of people celebrating artistic, religious or political events – a fair or a festival.