BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, November 14, 2023: Screaming kids inside a giant inflatable bounce house, balloons and decorations everywhere, the enticing aroma of Indian food, Bollywood beats in the air, a barrage of shopping vendors, men, women and kids in vibrant attire – culture came alive at the Global Mall as a crowd of over 20,000 flocked to the Global Mela 2023 on October 28 – 29 2023.
The event featured captivating performances, culinary delights, and artisan markets representing a multitude of cultures. Attendees reveled in traditional dances, mesmerizing music, and artistry that spanned the globe. The event encouraged community involvement, with local non-profit organizations and businesses coming together to support the celebration of global diversity.
“When we took over this building, it was almost empty. And today it is one of the best places for our South Asian community shop, dine, entertain and enjoy with families. This is not just a shopping mall. It is a complete community cultural center with learning, art, dance, music and entertainment and the only indoor Indian Mall in North America,” Shiv Aggarwal, owner, Global Mall, said, reminiscing about the earlier years when his teenage daughters cleaned the glass walls of the stores to keep it clean.
And a cultural extravaganza it was!
Global Mela, now in its 22nd year, surpassed all expectations as it transformed Global Mall into a vibrant hub of cultural immersion. Visitors from around the southeast converged to celebrate the event’s mission to foster unity and understanding across cultures was realized with great enthusiasm.
The Mela kicked off its festivities on Saturday October 28th with a grand Lamp lighting Ceremony attended by the media, event-goers and a few chief guests, including Mayor of Norcross, Mr. Craig Newton; Honorable Consul General of India, Mr. L. Ramesh Babu; Chairwoman of Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, Ms. Nicole Hendrickson; President of the Andrew Young Foundation, Mr. Gaurav Kumar; State Senator, Shawn Still; and Georgia State Representative, Matt Reeves and Johns Creek City Council member, Dilip Tunki.
Aggarwal thanked the Media, Global Mall tenants, and vendors for their continued support, along with the Global Mela organizers – Lynn Rich and Aarti Aggarwal for their hard work in putting together another amazing year. Speeches from the chief guests were followed up with scintillating dances performed by Nritya Natya Kala Bharti Academy’s well-trained senior and junior students. The dances were choreographed by NNKB’s founder Kumad Savla.
Barely three days into his arrival, Global Mela was the first event graced by Atlanta’s new Indian Consul General Hon. Ramesh Babu. “All my jet lag is gone, thanks to the vibrancy at this mela,” he said, recognizing Indian community as ambassadors of India in the United States and Atlanta.
Along with music and dance performances by acclaimed dance academies in Atlanta, the Mela also featured authentic Indian food on both days, and free family friendly activities including face painting, balloon creations, magic shows, and more.
“Global Mela brings us all together to talk about and celebrate culture. This celebration is a multi-cultural event. It brings people together across cultural boundaries and inhibitions. It’s okay to celebrate our unique cultures.” Mayor Newton said. “If two people were selected at random in Gwinnett County, there’s an 80% chance that the two would be from a different ethnicity and that represents our diversity,” Hendrickson noted, highlighting the diversity of the county and also spoke about her fond personal experience of shopping at the Global mall.
“Our Indian community adds so much to Gwinnett county, where it is healthcare, education, small business,.. I’m proud of our Indian community,” Reeves said.
“I’ve been coming to the Global Mall for 12 years, and it feels like coming home. Thank you to Shiv Aggarwal for giving us a home away from home. On Diwali, light gives us hope, and we need light in the time of darkness,” Kumar expressed.
Global Mela is touted as the “Black Friday for South Asian shoppers” with good reason! Global Bazaar, a temporary shopping market, featured 32 artisans, clothing and jewelry retailers offering unique, handcrafted products, textiles, and art pieces that delighted shoppers seeking authentic souvenirs. The Global Mall tenants, along with the Bazaar vendors, offered incredible sales to shoppers for the Diwali season. A vendor from India expressed her delight in being part of the Mela.
Throughout the two days, cultural performances enthralled the attendees with Bollywood beats and DJ Bobby from XtraHotDJs kept the crowds dancing and pumped all weekend. There were a variety of performances by dance schools and individual performers.
Global Mall Family has always been at the forefront of providing young performers a platform to showcase their talent, This year, dance participants of the cultural program included a new dance school Steps and Styles,Sai Aikya, Ashna Joshi, and Global Mall’s two resident dance schools Nitya Natya Kala Bharti and Prem Dance Academy.
Kids spent the weekend jumping in the inflatable bounce houses and enjoying the inflatable rides set up outside the mall and were treated to food and fun inside with free popcorn, cotton candy, and face painting provided by Global Mall. Additionally, the 3pm magic show captured the attention of over 100 kids over both days with free party favor bags and kid’s-only raffle prizes after the show!
An annual tradition – free raffle prizes were handed out every hour and this year over 150 people won free raffle prizes sponsored by Global Mall and its tenants and vendors, including a gold coin sponsored by Legacy Jewels and two lucky winners who won a 58” TCL Smart TVs sponsored by the Global Mall family.
Nothing transcends boundaries like food and shopping. The Mela provided the perfect opportunity to celebrate cultures from every corner of the world while serving as a platform for meaningful connections and friendships across borders. The festive atmosphere, joyful interactions, and enthusiastic participation of the attendees truly made it an event to remember.
“We are thrilled to have hosted Global Mela 2023 and to see the overwhelming response from the community,” said Shiv Aggarwal, the organizer of the event. “This year’s event was a testament to the power of cultural diversity in fostering unity and bringing people together.”
As the sun set on October 29th, Global Mela 2023 came to a close, leaving behind a lasting legacy of cultural exchange and mutual appreciation. Plans are already underway for an even grander Global Mela in 2024, promising an even more remarkable experience.
For more information and to stay updated on future Global Mela events, please visit amsglobalmall.com or follow on Instagram, Facebook, and Tiktok.