Search

Boishakhi Mela ‘comes home’ to its East End roots and family ‘localism’

PUBLISHED: 18:03 01 August 2016 | UPDATED: 18:03 01 August 2016

Mela Procession through Spitalfields

Mela Procession through Spitalfields

Archant

This year’s Bengali Mela finally shook off its commercial shackles of the past few years after families in London’s East End had complained it was too expensive to take part in.

Under the arches... Mela procession along Vallance RoadUnder the arches... Mela procession along Vallance Road

The procession through Spitalfields and Bethnal Green winding its way along Brick Lane, Old Montague Street and Vallance Road ended with yesterday’s free family festival in Weavers Fields rather than a ticketed enclosure in Victoria Park run by a private company for profit.

It was no national event drawing crowds from all over Britain, but was “back home” as the local festival it had started out as 18 years ago.

It looked like the elephant in the parade wouldn't make it... don't worry, the sahib riding it lowered his head and just got through in Vallance RoadIt looked like the elephant in the parade wouldn't make it... don't worry, the sahib riding it lowered his head and just got through in Vallance Road

The controversial move back by Tower Hamlets council had ended the commercialisation era at Vicky Park trying to rival the Notting Hill Carnival.

Yesterday’s spectators lining Brick Lane for the parade and the crowds in Weavers Fields were a little thinner on the ground—but at least it was back in the community.

Crowds build up in Weavers Fields for the live shows on stageCrowds build up in Weavers Fields for the live shows on stage

“There was some anxiety of crowds in the area,” Mayor John Biggs told the East London Advertiser at the Mela.

“But I wanted this to be a local event for families in the East End.

Bethnal Green's MP Rushanara Ali welcomes the Mela crowds at Weavers FieldsBethnal Green's MP Rushanara Ali welcomes the Mela crowds at Weavers Fields

“I’m not driven by getting the highest possible numbers of spectators as we can.

“We wanted an event strongly rooted in the community and to bring it back to Bethnal Green and not to become a national event with people from all over the UK—this is an East End event where it started.”

Mayor John Biggs, in his cloth cap, meets 10-year-old Shakira Raji form Bethnal BreenMayor John Biggs, in his cloth cap, meets 10-year-old Shakira Raji form Bethnal Breen

Last year was run by a business, as a commercial enterprise, “but many families complained that it cost them a lot of money to go round,” he pointed out.

Performances on stage were briefly interrupted by Mr Biggs, local MP Rushanara Ali and the Bangladesh High Commissioner welcoming the crowds with rather short speeches before the live entertainment resumed.

Council's recycle robot is a hit with children at the MelaCouncil's recycle robot is a hit with children at the Mela

The mayor added later: “People in the East End have to have some enjoyment as well as the grit and grind of daily life.”

He then went on a “regal walkabout” in his working class cloth cap to greet and meet families in the sunshine enjoying the food stalls, funfair attractions, picnics on the grass and even the council cleansing contractors’ remote-controlled C3 recycling robot chasing the children.

But it wasn’t long before the park began filling up in the late afternoon for a ‘catwalk’ show by the British Bangladesh Fashion Council and stage performances by top Bangla acts like Bolly Flex, Habib Wahid, Ayub Bachchu and LRB.

The Mela had finally come back to the community.

Latest East London News Stories

07:00

House prices in Tower Hamlets have risen by 0.1 per cent in the last year - despite a 3.3pc drop in August.

Yesterday, 08:00

Letters, contributions and comments sent in to the Advertiser this week.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Wondering what the weather has in store for us this weekend? Watch our Met Office video forecast.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

This week is National Hate Crime Awareness Week, which encourages people, organisations and charities to come together to stand against hate crime.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A drug dealer from Bow who stabbed a man in the arm causing a cut which needed 11 stitches has been jailed for eight years.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Tower Hamlets Council are urging people to share their memories of the former Royal London Hospital.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Jamie Brown of Archant Local Impact explains how you can build brand awareness.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A man in his 60s has been stabbed in Poplar.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Are you a landlord looking for a fixed rental income, paid whether the property is empty or not? Steve Westley, general manager at estate agents Elliot Leigh, explains their Guaranteed Rent Scheme and how it takes the stress out of letting your property.

Newsletter Sign Up

East London Advertiser twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now