17 April 2024

Bollywood, bhangra, butter chicken: Punjabi street festival returns to Griffith

| Oliver Jacques
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Indian drums playing

The inaugural Punjabi Mela attracted more than 800 people in 2023. Photo: Visit Griffith.

A worldwide Indian-themed festival that commemorates the start of harvest will return to Griffith on Saturday (20 April) after a successful inaugural event was held in the town last year.

The local Indian community, mental health service Wellways, WIN TV and Griffith Real Estate (GRE) have joined forces to present Punjabi Mela, which raises awareness about suicide.

Organiser Nick Chauhan of Griffith Real Estate said there would be Indian food stalls, Bollywood-style live music and dancing at Kooyoo Street from 6 pm onwards.

“Last year, Wellways approached Tony Santolin at Griffith Real Estate about doing a charity event together to raise awareness of the services Wellways offer, and we thought we’d tie in Punjabi culture,” he said.

“There’s a worldwide festival called Vaisakhi that orginated in the northern Indian state of Punjab. It celebrates harvest and was held in India on 13 and 14 April.

“In Griffith, we’ve come to the end of the grape harvest and wheat is [commencing], as it fits our agricultural town. We commenced it as a one-off last year but we had such a good response that we’ve decided to do it bigger and better this year.”

Indian women

There’ll be plenty of colourful outfits at Punjabi Mela. Photo: Visit Griffith.

“Mela” is an Indian word that means gathering.

More than 2300 Griffith residents are of Indian origin, with the majority coming from the state of Punjab, which is famous for its rich cuisine.

“Local Indian restaurants Swaad Punjab Da and Apra Curry House will have stalls; they’ll be doing samosas, curries such as butter chicken and freshly made naan,” Mr Chauhan said.

“Last year we had a token system, which did mean some people had to wait, but we’ve eliminated that this year so you can go straight to the caterer.”

In a further change from 2023, alcohol will be served by mobile bar The Perfect Pour, which is run by Kylie Barrington and Laura De Mamiel. The duo launched the unique business last year and offer beer, wine, champagne and cocktails for events, as well as bar staff, nibbles and a portable bar and cool room.

Laura De Mamiel and Kylie Barrington popping a champagne bottle

Laura De Mamiel and Kylie Barrington of The Perfect Pour will be serving drinks. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Sydney-based DJ Pami will lead the entertainment and there will also be a projector showcasing the history of Indian migration to the Griffith area. There will also be a traditional Indian folk dance known as bhangra.

Mr Chauhan said around 800 to 1000 people attended the event last year.

“It’s free entry; we’re just asking people to come and have fun,” he said. “There’ll also be Wellways staff on hand if you need someone with whom to chat. We’ll contribute funds raised to Wellways and to another local charity.”

Further information on Punjabi Mela Griffith can be found on its Facebook page.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can contact:
Lifeline’s 24-hour crisis support line – 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800 or kidshelpline.com.au
MensLine Australia – 1300 789 978.

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