Mela Festival - where cultures meet

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Indian music and dance at the Mela Festival. Photo: TOMOYOSHI/Flickr.

From 18 to 20 August, the City Hall Square in Oslo will be filled with people, music and food from all over the world. The Mela Festival is an annual free-entry festival for the whole family where different cultures come together and celebrate diversity. The word “mela” derives from Sanskrit and means “gathering” or “to meet” and is commonly used in many Indian languages as a word for fair or festival.

The purpose of Mela is to broaden horizons and make art expressions that have been around for centuries elsewhere in the world, known in Norway. One of the main goals is to promote the participation of minorities in Norwegian public, and art in particular. Mela works to develop new methods for cultural exchange, especially with countries in the south where many of the minorities in Norway have their origins.

Mela is rooted in a belief that migration has always affected our ways of behavior and living, and is an essential part of the Norwegian reality and culture today. The festival creates a natural meeting place and interaction between the majority culture and the cultural expressions that have come to Norway with migration and globalization.

Mela was hosted in Oslo for the first time in 2001 and has since then grown to be one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Each year, Mela attracts around 300.000 visitors during the festival’s three days.

This year’s festival has several Indian artists visiting, including Madboy/Mink - electrical popduo from Mumbai, Kaushiki Chakrabarty - classical artist from Calcutta, vocalist and guitarist Dhruv Ghanekar together with Ila Arun – singer, TV and theatre personality, and traditional musician Aastha Dave from Mumbai among others. The festival also offers classes in Bollywood dancing and a lot of delicious Indian food. Check out the full program here.