EASTLEIGH'S Mela takes place today and is expected to draw crowds in their thousands.

The ninth Eastleigh Mela takes place at Leigh Road Recreation Ground where there will be music, dance, martial arts and food, all with an Asian flavour.

Hampshire Fire and Res-cue Service staff will attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records by cooking the biggest naan bread in the world.

For the festival organisers the event means bringing people together from a variety of backgrounds, not just Asian. An Irish dance group, the Eastleigh Fusion Choir, a dragon dance group, a puppet theatre and an English pop cover band will join major artists from the Asian pop scene like Tasha Tah, San 2, JC Sona and Sonu.

Darshan Mann, chairman of organisers Asian Welfare and Cultural Association, said the mela was the event of the summer.

He said: “It is very important because it celebrates cultural fusion bringing all the diverse people together.

“Over the years it has grown and grown. When we started nearly ten years ago 1,000 people turned up.

“Now we hope to see 15,000 people attend.”

Firefighters are confident that they will beat the world record while raising money for charity by cooking a naan bread at least three metres by 1.2 metres.

There will also be a climbing wall, dance workshops and competitions, kite making, face painting, falconry display, puppet theatre and sports activities for children during the day, which runs from 11am to 6pm.

Members of Hampshire’s Polish and Caribbean communities will be there selling home-made cuisine.