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Aberdeen Mela festival returning to brighten up the city this summer

A family event which embraces cultures from across the world is making a return to brighten up Aberdeen this summer.

Thousands of people are expected to attend Aberdeen Mela One World Day when it takes place at Westburn Park.

The event will be held on Sunday, August 21, between 12pm and 7pm, marking the first time it will be held in the north-east in three years.

Described as a “celebration of cultural diversity”, the day will involve a range of music, dance, food, crafts and children’s activities.

Shilpi Vatsa, her daughter Aarna Sharma and children will perform at the festival in August. Picture by Wullie Marr/DC Thomson. 

Organiser Ahashan Habib, manager of the Aberdeen Multicultural Centre, hopes the event will be “better and busier” this year.

He said: “After the Covid break, people have been waiting for the festival to return. The main aim is to bring society together – all the cultures that exist in Aberdeen.

“Summertime in Aberdeen can be very dry and very quiet, so we’re hoping to bring more tourists, as well as entertainment and cuisine.”

‘Music connects everyone’

Traditional food traders and performers from India, Japan, China and elsewhere will attend the upcoming festival to champion their own cultures.

One of the Aberdeen-based dancers, 14-year-old Aarna Sharma, performed to a Bollywood number outside Marischal Square this afternoon at the launch for the event.

The teenager has been taking classes for ballet and traditional Indian dance for several years and now teaches young children. She will perform again with her mum, Shilpi Vatsa, and her students this summer.

Aarna Sharma, 14, performed to a Bollywood number at the launch event. Picture by Wullie Marr/DC Thomson.

“I think it’s important for all cultures to come together, so we can all view the other dancers and value what they do as well,” she said.

“Music is something that connects everyone. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, it’s in every culture.”

‘A multi-cultural city’

Traditional Indian and Portugal cuisine from Blue Elephant and Chilli Flames was on offer today – just a taste of what can be expected at the trader’s stalls on the main day.

Lord Provost of Aberdeen David Cameron and George Street and Harbour councillor Sandra Macdonald were also in attendance to help spread the word about the big day.

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen David Cameron attended the launch event on Wednesday. Picture by Wullie Marr/DC Thomson. 

Mr Cameron said: “Aberdeen is a phenomenally multi-cultural city. We want as many people to come along as possible.”

Mrs Macdonald, who is on the Mela Steering Group Committee, added: “I’m hoping for a noisy, vibrant, colourful, culturally diverse day.”

Any traders who would like to get involved or anyone who is available to volunteer on the day is asked to email mela@abmc.org.uk

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