HUNDREDS of people descended on the Burbage Village Hall at the weekend to take part in the very first Burbage Mela.

Organiser Sonny Hamid jubilantly described the event as “absolutely stunning”, saying its success was “beyond all expectations”.

The event, staged on Saturday, July 8, and thought to be the first Mela held in a Wiltshire village, was attended by around 500 people, including Devizes MP Claire Perry.

The day saw revellers enjoying the very best in South Asian art, culture and food as people from all backgrounds came together for a spot of summertime fun.

Sonny said: “We are very grateful to our MP, Claire Perry, who so kindly formally opened the Mela, and to all who came to support us.

“It was a brilliant day, everybody had a fantastic time and the question we kept being asked was: can we have another one next year?”

Traditional Bollywood dancers entertained the crowds and the South Indian dances were performed by young students from the Swindon Tamil Association.

Even the children got in on the act, performing the classical Bharatha Natyam, a dance which involves facial expressions as well as hand, and foot movements.

Other attractions included a Sari tying competition and a group performance by the audience led by Dorothy dancing to “Jai Ho” from the movie Slum Dog Millionaire.

“It was a real pleasure to be able to host something like this and it was so nice to see so many people get involved,” said Sonny, who is hoping to make next year’s event even better.

There were several stalls offering henna painting, sari tying, and Indi beauty treatments while traditional Indian street food was freshly prepared.

MP Claire Perry said: “It was a pleasure to join everyone at the Burbage Mela on Saturday afternoon and enjoy a brilliant celebration of South Asian arts, culture and food.

“The Mela was part of Burbage Gala Week which ran from July 1 to 8 with many fantastic events taking place in the village. My thanks and best wishes go to everyone involved in organising this great community event.”

The word Mela is derived from the ancient Sanskrit language and means a ‘gathering’ or a ‘fair’. Its purpose it is to achieve greater community cohesion.