The Vedic Cultural Center (VCC) will present the Ananda Mela (Joyful Festival of India) on July 30-31 at Redmond City Hall, 15670 N.E. 85th St. Now in its seventh year, the festival will be held from noon to 9 p.m. each day and is free and for all ages.
Ananda Mela is one of the biggest festivals of Indian art and culture on the west coast, and is the largest cultural festival in Redmond, with more than 20,000 attendees expected for the weekend. It is put on annually by the VCC of Sammamish, whose mission is to preserve and promote traditional Indian arts, culture, cuisine, languages and literature.
“We enjoy collaborating with the City of Redmond in presenting Ananda Mela,” said festival president Harry Terhanian. “This year we will have a special exhibit on Ganges, the holy river of India, and Vedic (traditional) village which is fully self-sustaining and environment-friendly. The theme of the Vedic village is ancient wisdom for modern sustainability.”
This year’s festival attractions include two international musical acts. On Saturday, musicians and dancers from Vancouver, BC, will be performing Punjabi and Sufi songs at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, audiences will be treated to a fusion of Punjabi folk dances (including bhangra) and Celtic dancing by another group of talented visitors from Vancouver, BC, starting at 6 p.m.
There will also be an Aloha Bhangra Dance Contest for audience members dancing during the prime time show on Sunday. The grand prize is a free two-nights vacation for two to Hawaii.
There are three stages on which varieties of music and dance performances will be happening continuously.
“We continue to maintain a healthy level of participatory events for attendees of all ages at Ananda Mela,” said Latha Sambamurti, artistic director of Ananda Mela and Wshington State Arts commissioner. “We are retaining the popular contests introduced successfully in the previous years and also introducing a few brand-new ones this year.”
The festival will feature several interesting contests for various age groups such as a cooking contest, a chess contest, a general knowledge quiz contest, an Indian epic quiz, a Henna contest, a making clay Ganesha contest, a technology contest, a Rangoli contest, a fancy dress contest, a Jilebi (Indian dessert) eating contest and so on.
For youngsters, there will be inflatables, bouncies, magic shows, performances and various contests.
This year’s special is yoga from 8-11 a.m. on Sunday (before the regular festival program starts at noon) on the main stage.
Finally, there will be shopping, vegetarian Indian food, henna and displays on Indian art, culture and philosophy.
In addition to providing the venue, the city also provides staffing for the event for a fee (paid for by VCC), and assists with publicity and overall festival planning through collaborative work ahead of the festival.
This year’s Ananda Mela is also supported by a grant from ExperienceRedmond.com.