Performances by Vancouver dance group Shiamak Dawar Academy are among the highlights of this year’s India Mela celebration in Victoria’s Centennial Square Aug. 7 to 9.

India Mela a cultural celebration in Victoria

Group hopes to inspire youth with a connection to their heritage

Experience what India has to offer the senses, without traveling abroad or even leaving the comforts of Greater Victoria. The sixth annual India Mela, or festival, is a free event that takes over Centennial Square and Victoria’s city hall building Aug. 7 to 9.

“It’s a celebration of Indian culture and raising awareness in the mainstream culture,” said Sunil Bhatia, a director for the mela organizer India Canada Cultural Association (ICCA).

This event features multicultural performances, authentic cuisine by local chefs, live music, a fashion show and Bollywood-styled dancing.

“There’s going to be lots of food kiosks,” Bhatia said, adding that everything from butter chicken to locally grown vegetables will be available. “It’ll showcase food from all over India.”

Aside from edibles, 25 vendors will display authentic Indian products such as clothing, jewelry, henna tattoos, plus a palm reader will also be on site.

Bhatia is especially excited about the entertainment, with roughly a dozen other communities joining the festivities and a renowned Bollywood dance academy from Vancouver set to perform.

“There’s going to be a lot of kids’ activities,” he said, noting that sometimes little ones can’t sit through all of the performances. “It’s a family affair.”

The ICCA is a social and cultural network based in Victoria. Formed in the 1960s, it continues to host culturally inspired events in the community.

“Our mandate is to promote not only the Indian culture to the communities we are in, but to instill pride in our youth,” Bhatia said, by reminding younger generations of their connection to their heritage.

The group also does fundraising for different charities, he added, including this year raising money for victims of the Nepal earthquake.

For more information on the association go to iccavictoria.com.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com