Belfast Telegraph

In Pictures: Belfast Mela festival 2011

By Catherine Lynagh

Shimmering saris, henna body art, fabulous food and inspiring music greeted visitors to Belfast's Botanic Park yesterday.

With sunshine and showers, thousands of people packed the gardens to enjoy the delights of Belfast's fifth Mela.

Billed as Northern Ireland's largest multi-cultural festival, the event featured over 20 top class international and home grown acts from the world of music, dance, visual arts and cookery.

Husband and wife Ravi Ningegowba and Briyanka Lingegowba, originally from India who now live and work in Belfast, said the festival is growing every year.

Briyanka said: "We are here to have a day out. We get to see lots of people and lots of stalls, some good music and dance.

"We have been coming here for three years. It is good to see it growing and great for the economy. It also brings tourists."

Sisters Moya O'Gorman and Marian Lavery travelled from Portadown to enjoy some Indian cuisine. Moya said: "It is absolutely brilliant. We saw it advertised on TV and I love Indian food so decided to come."

Junior Minister Jonathan Bell used the cultural event to highlight the issue of hate crimes.

He said: "I welcome the contribution made to our economic, cultural and social life in Northern Ireland by Indian and other minority ethnic groups.

"I want to pay tribute to the work of Arts Ekta for their work in making Northern Ireland a fantastic place to live."

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