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The 2018 Boishakhi Mela at Bethnal Green is planned by Tower Hamlets council to be kept ‘local’

PUBLISHED: 17:14 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:14 13 February 2018

Mela parade packs Brick Lane in a previous Mela festival. Picture source: Picture: Rehan Jamil

Mela parade packs Brick Lane in a previous Mela festival. Picture source: Picture: Rehan Jamil

Rehan Jamil

The date has been set for the summer’s annual Boishakhi Mela festival in Bethnal Green for Bengali music and culture and keeping it firmly in its East End roots.

Bengali 'tiger' floats along the 2017 Mela parade. Picture source: JanomotBengali 'tiger' floats along the 2017 Mela parade. Picture source: Janomot

The seven-hour 2018 Mela is being staged at Weavers Fields on July 1, from 12pm to 7pm, Tower Hamlets Council’s arts and events office has announced.

The free family day begins with a street parade from Brick Lane at 11am leading to the festival at Weavers Fields for a seven-hour celebration starting at 12 noon.

It was switched to Weavers Fields in 2016 when the council severed the commercial ties of previous years when it was staged in a ticketed enclosure in Victoria Park to try and rival the Notting Hill Carnival.

Families had complained that the commercialised event was too expensive.

It's all smiles for these youngsters at the 2011 Mela parade in Brick Lane passing Old Truman's Brewery. Picture: Rehan JamilIt's all smiles for these youngsters at the 2011 Mela parade in Brick Lane passing Old Truman's Brewery. Picture: Rehan Jamil

So it was brought under direct town hall management and turned back into a free community festival, as it had started out in the 1970s, rather than try to attract spectators from all over the country.

But it meant crowds lining the streets for the parade were a little thinner on the ground.

Even so, as Tower Hamlets cabinet member for culture Abdul Mukit pointed out: “Last year 40,000 people packed into Weavers Field for the day of entertainment and to experience Bengali culture at its best.”

The 2018 festival is promoting Bengali music, art and culture with age-old stories brought to life through music, song and dance.

Crowds at the 2016 Mela in Weavers Field. Picture: Mike BrookeCrowds at the 2016 Mela in Weavers Field. Picture: Mike Brooke

An arts’ zone has creative activities from 1pm includes Bengali arts and crafts, workshops, storytelling and Bengali poetry and literature brought to life with talks and readings, while a ‘sports and wellbeing’ zone has workouts for the body and mind. Food and craft stalls are also planned.

Last year’s on-stage entertainment included Miles headline act with a fusion of musical styles, Bangladesh folk-singer Rinku, singers Himangshu Goswami, Laboni Barua and Gouri Choudhury and ‘Bollywood bonanza’ dance performances by Bolly Flex.

Detail’s of this year’s line-up is being revealed nearer the time.

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