Not many things bring the street art tour to a halt but every year one event we love putting a tour on pause for is the passage of the Boishakha Mela parade down Brick Lane.
Happy New Year! No, were aren’t late to celebrate the roman calendar 1st day in January, this time Brick Lane explodes with even more life, colour, music, song and dance than usual as the Bengali community in Tower Hamlets celebrates the Bengali New Year with the Boishakha Mela festival, the largest of its kind outside Bangladesh. The festivities are delayed slightly in the hope that we will have more sunshine in July that we get in April and this year the weather delivered.
The Mela began with a Grand Parade starting in Alleyn Gardens, headed down Brick Lane to see the Shoreditch Street Art Tour then on to the main festivities located in Weaver’s Field in Whitechapel.
A beautiful burst of energy as far as the eye could see were a sea of floats, dancers, singers, musicians and onlookers.
In celebration of the coming of the rains the head of the parade was led by boats afloat on rivers propelled by oarsmen with red paddles. The bounty, a catch of silver fish is carried aloft by symbolic fishermen.
The two main floats this year comprised a fish and a tiger. In previous years a raucous trumpeting elephant brought the street art tour to a jaw dropping halt.
The parade was put together by local schools, artists, youth and community organisations working with Emergency Exit Arts.
Bangladesh is home to the world’s largest Mangrove forests so it is appropriate in a parade themed around the Rivers Of Bangladesh that we see Mangrove trees bursting with flora and insects.
It was a pleasure to sight Mr Hussein from Preem Restaurant in the front ranks of the parade, Mr Hussein has been a wonderful supporter of street art for many years and has permitted his walls on Hanbury St to host some of the World’s top artists, including the hugely popular and auspicious bird by ROA.
Here is a little of that Boishakhi Mela Grand Parade action, we look forward to next year.
All photos and video: Dave Stuart