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Spirit of the Mela keeps fans enthralled despite the weather

THE spirit of Scotland's wbiggest free multicultural festival, the Glasgow Mela, has been evoked at the Live zone at Glasgow Green.

A blustery lunch-time downpour threatened to chase away revellers, but fortunately disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, leaving only a pile of broken brollies in its wake.

Sadly, the threatening weather meant some visitors didn't hang around for the spellbinding sound of Ankna Arockiam, a student at the city's Royal Conservatoire.

She was joined on the main stage by the equally impressive Drishti Bundhoo and the Scokendia Ensemble to perform Songs from India.

The pair, resplendent in floor-length gowns, performed valiantly as the wind whipped their hair and microphones.

Watching in the crowd, husband and wife Jim and Una Pearson, from East Kilbride, fresh from the nearby big wheel, were impressed. "I'm not usually a fan of opera music but the girl's voice is absolutely beautiful," said Mrs Pearson, 70. "We've just come up for the day and Glasgow is looking great. It makes you really proud. This music is wonderful."

The singers rounded off their 30-minute set with a duet; an alternative rendition of Auld Lang Syne which began to draw the crowds from their various places of shelter. They finished to applause and shouts of: "Lovely. Lovely."

The audience was left wanting more but instead got some rather weak banter from the two hosts, whose chiding of the audience for not singing along missed the mark slightly.

In addition to the programmed events, there were various roving musical performances across the Green which made for a carnival atmosphere. The Kawa Brass Band from India went down a storm and attracted a large crowd.

Nearby, gathered under a gazebo in a copse of trees, the UK's only Sikh choir received a pre-performance pep talk from choir master Harvinder Kaur before heading out into the throng to perform an endearing a cappella set.

Formed in February, the National Guru Granth Sahib Youth Choir, which is based out of the Sikh temple on Glasgow's Albert Drive, is made up of 31 children. They will perform again on Friday wearing specially-made tartan turbans.

In the Aurora bar at the far end of the Green, an Indian dance troupe prepared to take to the floor.

The velvet drapes of the spiegeltent proved a fitting backdrop to the dancers who were decked out in brightly coloured be-jewelled waistcoats.

Back at the main stage, a festival vibe had taken hold with many sitting on the grass. Onstage were Musafir, Gypsies of Rajastan. There was still a bit of a wind but no-one in the audience was for moving. "Through music and dance, we can find God" the band leader explained to the crowd.

For their next number, the five-member outfit, who were seated cross-legged behind their instruments, were joined by a female dancer, draped with beads, who incorporated cymbals, flowers and a rather eye-watering sword into her routine.

Between songs, the band leader shared nuggets of wisdom in calm, measured tones and the crowd kept growing with every toe-tapping number.

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