WATCH: Indian Mela brings thousands together for food and dance in Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 16:29 14 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:33 14 July 2019
Ipswich was bursting with colour, dance and spices today as thousands came together to celebrate Indian culture in Christchurch Park.
The event, which has become a popular addition to the town's summer calendar, saw record-breaking numbers mixing together and learning about the Indian culture.
The 'Mela' which means fair in Indian, is hosted each year by the Ipswich and Suffolk Indian Association (ISIA) in partnership with Ipswich Borough Council.
The event runs from 12pm to 6pm and has been jazzing up the summer season since it kicked off in 2007 - bringing different cultures together to enjoy and learn about the colourful Indian culture.
Shilpa Surana, who is the new chair of the ISIA, says it brings joy to see so many different people integrating and learning about each other.
She said: "The Mela started on a very small scale and since that time slowly we have made it bigger and better.
"This year is even more exciting as we have got loads of workshops, including zumba, rangoli, turban-making, Bollywood dancing and sari demonstrations. It's all about expressing the Indian culture."
Alongside the different workshops there are also a huge range of food stalls, henna stations, clothes and jewellery stands and funfair rides.
Speaking of the day, Shilpa added: "Indian Mela is not about Indian's at all, it is all about collaborating and mixing up with the local community.
"Obviously there is Indian food, but this year we have tried to bring in other cuisines such as noodles, Mexican, chicken, and jerk chicken - as it's all about togetherness and enjoying what is out there.
"People think of Indian culture and they think of curry - but it's not only about the curry, it's about all the different things that we do alongside the food."
Last year's event saw more than 6,000 people pass through the gates of Christchurch Park - and each year the demand for the Mela increases.
Shilpa continued: "It makes me very happy to see people integrating and mixing together and talking more about Mela.
"When I started out as a volunteer for the ISIA I could really see the fun and joy people have when they are here - or at our other event, the Holi."
The Hindu festival of Holi was celebrated earlier in April this year - where families from across the town embraced the Hindu festival of Holi, throwing brightly coloured paint powder at one another.