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Gallery: Indian Summer Mela celebrated at Christchurch Park in Ipswich as part of Ip-art 2014

PUBLISHED: 12:19 14 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:19 14 July 2014

The Ipswich Malayalam Association Dancers perform at the Indian Mela event in Christchurch Park on Sunday, 13 July.

The Ipswich Malayalam Association Dancers perform at the Indian Mela event in Christchurch Park on Sunday, 13 July.

Thousands of people revelled in a party atmosphere in Ipswich yesterday when the 12th annual Indian Summer Mela celebrated the country’s rich culture and history.

Indian music, dance, food, art, religion and clothing were showcased during the all-day event at Christchurch Park.

Since its inception in 2002 as an Indian Bazaar in a small hall in Kesgrave, the Mela has become an established fixture in the Suffolk calendar after being adapted by Ip-art to form a key part of its arts and culture festival.

Originated by the Ipswich and Suffolk Indian Association (ISIA), Mela, a Sanskrit word meaning “to meet”, dates back to religious gatherings in south Asia such as Diwali and Eid.

Poli Mohah, the chairman of ISIA, said the event provides a great way of bringing together people from a range of cultural backgrounds. She said: “It has grown every year and we are now on par with Melas held up and down the country.

“We are becoming a very diverse community and I think it is very important we hold these events to improve community cohesion.”

The free Mela, which was attended by around 8,000 people, was filled with vibrant performances by local artists of Indian dance, songs and music as well as yoga, tai chi, Bokwa and Bollywood workshops and demonstrations and the chance to get tattooed with henna.

Visitors could try their hand at Bollywood dancing under the watchful eye of choreographer and performer Jay Kumar, while dancers from Akula Tribal and Affinity Tribal showcased American tribal-style belly dancing with influences from flamenco, Oriental, Rajasthani and Indian Kathak dance.

Meanwhile, Melissa Bell, former lead singer of Soul II Soul and mother of former X Factor winner Alexandra Burke, performed a samba-based World Cup final inspired song World Cup Vibe.

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