Banging the drum for Nottingham Mela

In Sanskrit, the word Mela means meeting or assembly. For us, the word means a fair or Hindu festival.

There’s been a Mela in Nottingham for the last 29 years, so this year was the 30th anniversary. I’ve never been to one before and I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks.

There have been events going on throughout the city since last Wednesday – music, films, children’s events etc. Today was the finale, a family fun day at The Arboretum (and, as I have already said in a previous post, I love The Arboretum).

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This is Harjinder Matharu, a tabla artist, who opened the event with a couple of his students. What a great guy. He had everyone up on their feet and dancing and his beard fascinated me… just look how perfect the colouring of it is. Can you see the bent drumstick? It’s to produce different sounds. Hitting the drum with the curved bit makes a deeper sound than hitting it with the tip. It’s not that I’m really knowledgeable about this type of percussion instrument you understand – I asked him because I was curious.

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You should have seen the youngsters make a run for these drums when the drumming  workshops began, everyone wanted to join in. I actually thought these were stools because the tops were padded – turns out the padding is the cover, to protect the drum skin.

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Today’s events included dancing, poetry, yoga, music and a load of stalls.  I tried a Wada Pau, which I was told was an Indian burger (it was quite obviously vegetarian). It appeared to be spiced potatoes in an almost pastry-like case that looked like a dumpling. It was squished and then stuck in a bun – sorry, cob – with a pretty fierce chilli sauce. Glad I bought a bottle of water as well.

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Kids were spoilt for choice with activities. There were crafts and dancing and, of course, the drumming – have a look at the video to see the dancing lessons (and my lunch).

But the best bit – well at least as far as I was concerned – was getting my first henna.

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Isn’t it pretty.

It took about ten minutes to do and cost £5. I had to go back 20 minutes after I had it done to have lemon sprayed on to it (I have no idea why). Then I was told to leave it on for four to 12 hours and keep away from water for 24 hours. So no washing up for me!

It started coming off about an hour ago, which was about 7 hours after I had it put on. It’s currently quite pale but I’m hoping it gets darker. If you want to see how it was done, have a look at this. I’ve speeded it up, so it won’t take long.

I’d love to go to more of the events next year, I fancy seeing some classical Indian musicians or a great Bollywood film. But as for this year, I had loads of fun.

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Traveler, writer, photographer, seeker of knowledge

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