Celebrating our diverse culture

Rini Matthews. INNT 32-602con
Rini Matthews. INNT 32-602con

Two Newtownabbey people are taking centre stage in the upcoming Belfast Mela festival - the city’s largest and best known cultural event.

Rini Matthews from Glengormley is a member of ArtsEkta’s South Asian Dance Academy which will be performing traditional dances in the Belfast Mela this year.

While Jordanstown man Mukesh Sharm, is chairman of ArtsEkta which organises the annual event on August 24 and 25 in Botanic Gardens.

Mela (the word comes from the Sanskrit for ‘meeting’ or ‘uniting’) was launched in 2007 by the critically acclaimed and pioneering ArtsEkta organisation in a bid to showcase and celebrate Northern Ireland’s increasing cultural diversity.

Today the project has grown beyond all original expectations and Belfast Mela not only celebrates the sights, sounds and smells of the Indian sub continent but has become one of the province’s growing tourist attractions.

Mukesh said: “Belfast Mela is very much a home grown event, proud of its community roots and heritage.

“Some 65 per cent of our varied programme still originates at community level and it is one of our core strengths that Belfast Mela creates opportunities for minority ethnic groups living here to express their identities and showcase and share their cultures with pride.

“I’m particularly delighted that my home borough of Newtownabbey, through its vibrant and dynamic arts sectors and its lively and diverse communities, is strongly represented on our performance stages and in our audiences.”

For the Mela programme and to book tickets go to www.belfastmela.org.uk.