A Mela is a gathering or fair that incorporates art, culture, music, food, sport and other celebratory elements. It is way of life in India.
Here in Victoria, the event is an opportunity to share the richness of Indian culture, create community partnership, and show our respectful way of life to the community, especially to the youth who are the future leaders.
On August 10th, the Punjabi Cultural Community of Victoria held the Mela Teeyan Da, an event representing happiness, prosperity and well-being. It is a famous festival for women in India. It is where newly married and young unmarried women gather to celebrate the beginning of the rainy season. Teeyan is a festival in Punjab for women, focusing on daughters and sisters.
One of our youth members, Sonia Virk, started our Punjabi Mela with her beautiful smile and wonderful skill being the emcee by welcoming everyone and acknowledging that we are on the territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt people in whose unceded territories we carry out our work.
The day was filled with Punjabi and Hindi music, dancing and singing. There were other groups that performed—members of the community from Punjabi, the Caribbean, the First Nations in Victoria, Filipinos, Mexicans, Chinese, and more. The festival sought to build connections and promote friendships to take away stress and isolation.
Together with the Mela, we celebrated the India’s 73rd Independence Day. This is most important day in India’s history: On August 15, 1947, India achieved independence from Britain. Today, India is known as largest democratic country in the world with a population of 1.3 billion people and is poised to become the fifth largest economy in the world.
Our goal is to promote education and tolerance in Canada, and celebrate the social, cultural and language traditions of India. Here we celebrate four festivals a year, providing our youth with the opportunity to develop self-esteem, pride, and confidence. We as a community also raise and donate money to various charities for cancer care, children’s hospitals; a hot lunch program for refugee families; free food for the Victoria Rainbow Kitchen Society and Our Place Society, among many other causes.
One of the great things learning about multiculturalism and diversity is giving everyone an opportunity to experience and enjoy the pride inherent in other cultures.
We invite members of the community to join us at our monthly gathering every last Sunday of the month at the Pearkes Recreation Centre on Tillicum Rd. We will cook together, share our stories, learn from our elders, teach our youth about our culture, and welcome newcomers. As well, every second Sunday of the month, we hold poetry readings from 4pm to 6pm, and everyone is welcome.
PHOTOS BY JOHN-EVAN SNOW
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