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Saturday, 20 November, 1999, 04:53 GMT
Culture awards at Asian festival
Banging the drum for Asian food, fashion and spending power

Hit movie comedy East is East has been nominated for an award at a ceremony recognising Asian achievement and influence in Britain.

The BBC Asian Success Innovation and Achievement (ASIA) Awards are taking place for the second year at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham as part of the Mega Mela, a three-day festival of Asian culture.

The ceremony is hosted by comedian Nina Wadia and presenter Shanka Guha and will be shown on BBC Two on 26 November.

Bollywood stars and top Asian bands are attracting thousands of people to the Mega Mela, in its second day.

The three day fair mixes old culture and new
Bands like Asian Dub Foundation, Junoon and Apache Indian are all appearing along with stars of the thriving Indian film industry Govinda, Neelam, Saif Ali Khan and Gulshan Grover.

The event, sponsored by the BBC, also features Asian chefs, fashion designers and businesses.

Alongside the music, food and fashion, big corporate sponsors are vying for the attention of visitors.

It has been estimated that Britain's Asian community has a disposable income of around 8bn.

As a result, the Mega Mela has attracted heavyweight corporate sponsors like Tesco, John Lewis and Jaguar.

Mega Mela means big fair and the event in Britain's second city is expected to attract around 40,000 people.

One of the organisers, Anjina Raheja, said: "We have been here for over 35 years. We want to be part of the mainstream community and we want people to understand our culture."

Dispelling myths

The people involved in the Mega Mela are anxious to attract non-Asian visitors in an attempt to dispel some myths.

The festival is an eclectic mixture of old, traditional culture and the latest Asian music and fashion.

Car manufacturers Jaguar are sponsoring the fashion catwalk.

Amanda Chick, of Jaguar, says her company has recognised the wealth in the Asian community.

"It is affluent," she said, "it is style conscious and we've got to get out and promote to them."

The armed forces and the police service have set up large stands in the hope of attracting recruits.

But it is the Bollywood stars who are likely to prove the bigger attraction.

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See also:
21 Oct 99 |  UK
UK's top Asian women rewarded
16 Jul 99 |  South Asia
From Dhaka to London's East End

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