Mela makes a joyful start

Organizers plan to make Punjabi Mela an annual event

There’s no doubt in Ikjot Kahlon’s mind that the first Punjabi Mela in Penticton was a big success.

“Everything pretty much went to plan and we’re hoping it will be an even bigger success next year,” said Ikjot Kahlon, who organized the Mela along with friends Rav Matharoo and Amit Brar.

“There were so many people came out to support it,” said Kahlon. “A bunch of people came up to me to say how amazing the event was.”

“The final tally is still to be done, but Kahlon estimates they raised over $6,000 for the B.C. Cancer Foundation. Kahlon was inspired to organize the Mela (festival) to honour her grandmother, Bajinder Thind, who died of cancer last summer.

Related: First Penticton Punjabi Mela festival in Gyro Park

It was so successful that she wants to bring it back next year, and in years to come.

“We will just keep doing this annually and honouring my grandmother,” said the 17-year-old Kahlon, who admits there were a few things that didn’t quite go to plan, like running out of food.

“We are definitely going to have more food,” she said. “We didn’t think we were going to have som many people coming for the first time.”

The food that was distributed, she said, was made by people at their own cost.

“They made the food, cooked it themselves and served it. They did not take any of the money for themselves, it all went to the B.C. Cancer Foundation,” said Kahlon, adding that kind of support was part of what made the Mela such a success.

Another factor in the success was dance performances like that from Bhangra club Sada virsa sada gaurav, whose joy in their performance was infectious.

“That’s a big thing for the culture. Our culture is colourful and joyful. That dance, when you are doing it, it just makes you feel so happy,” said Kahlon. “That’s what we wanted the whole event to be like so it showcased our culture and showed super joyful, friendly and helpful to the whole community.”

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