Utah’s Indian community celebrates culture with ‘mela’ carnival


SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — After a break during the pandemic, a community came together far away from home to celebrate where they come from. Indians in Utah gathered on Saturday in South Jordan to celebrate their culture with a mela, which means “carnival.”

It was a way to experience India through food, music, dance, henna, clothes and traditions. Each state in India has a distinct cuisine, so people from those states set up stalls to share their unique kinds of food. The goal was to bring people together in a special way.

“We’re all living far from our country, and we don’t want to miss it,” said Ramiah Natarajan, a volunteer at the event who is on the executive committee at the Indian Cultural Center. “This is the starting of a festival season in India… We’ll have Navaratri coming up, we have Diwali coming up, all those are great festivals, big celebrations, and we also celebrate them here, so we want to mark these beginning of all those great festivals coming up, so we want to give the community that we are all here together, they all can see and meet others.”

There was a stage set up with performances throughout the day, with Bollywood dances, classical music shows, and traditional folk dances to entertain the crowd.

Organizers said more than 2,500 people attended, and a common theme from people who came by was that such events help immigrant families share their culture and make people feel right at home.

“We feel a connection to back home, and we’re having the Indian vibes, and we’re happy,” said Raji, who attended the event.

“And especially for the kids who are born and brought up here — for them, it’s fun,” added Uma, another attendee at India Mela.

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