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The Independent Culture
After Tower Hamlets's lacklusture Spitalfields Bangladeshi Festival, neighbouring Newham stages its seventh annual outdoor Mela (fair) on Sunday 31 July. Originally a very local event held at Plashet Park, this year the fair takes place at the larger site of Wanstead Flats for the second time. The first Mela attracted 300 people, but this year over 35,000 people are expected to attend: it's fast becoming Europe's largest Asian Festival.

Two pounds will buy you eight-and-a-half hours of celebration of the borough's Punjabi, Pakistani, Gujarati, Tamil and, yes, Bangladeshi communities. Constant performances on all four stages include a musical line-up of classical Qawwali with Ansar and Afzal Hussain from Pakistan and contemporary Bhangra and rap with Sangeeta Azaad, Hustlers HC, Anmol, Azaad and Bina Mistry. There's some much-needed exposure for comedy duo The Secret Asians and comedienne Nina Wadia plus classical Indian dance by Narthana Kalalaya and The Sujata Bannerjee Kathak group.

Liberate the taste buds with the variety of authentic Indian cuisine on offer - more impressive than any bhaji on any beach, all at no- nonsense Indian prices. Fashion shows will reveal that grunge never quite made it into the Asian style vocabulary which, virtually as a rule, favours the flamboyant and ostentatious. There's sure to be a spectacular array of costumes among artists and audience alike - so wear shades, whatever the weather. Pudh Marr

Newham Mela '94 takes place on Sunday 31 July 12-8.30pm at Wanstead Flats, Capel Road, Forest Gate, London E7. For further information call 081-557 8659

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