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Chak de Phatte

Bhangra singer Malkit Singh says he wants to greet the British queen with a boisterous chak de phatte when he meets her for his investiture as a Member of the British Empire (MBE).

"I have no idea what I will say to her... maybe chak de phatte or balley balley", he said, jocularly using two popular Punjabi phrases typifying the exuberance of the language.

Malkit Singh is the first Punjabi singer to figure in the prestigious Queen's Honours List, which is published twice every year to honour people with a record of distinguished and long-standing service to the nation or the community.

Malkit, born in Husseinpur village of Jalandhar district in Punjab, came to Britain in 1984 and cut his first album two years later - it became a trailblazer as bhangra grew in popularity in dance halls and nightclubs all over Britain.

"I worked very hard on my music. And although I had won medals in India when I was in college, my musical journey actually began in Britain", Malkit Singh, 45, said during an interview from his home in the city of Birmingham, England.

Malkit Singh was among a group of five Sikhs figuring in this year's New Year's Honours List.

Those who were made Officers of the Order of the British Empire included Rajvinder Singh Kandola for services to disadvantaged people and to diversity.

Among the MBE recipients were: Gurbachan Singh Dhinsa for services to the community in Sandwell, Sukhbinder Singh Johal for services to the arts, Malkit Singh for services to Punjabi music, and Amarjit Singh Talwar for services to the music industry and to the community in the West Midlands.

Malkit Singh was also the main attraction at the three-day Edinburgh Mela, which began last Saturday and has been billed as Scotland's biggest multicultural festival.

It was set up in 1995 by Edinburgh's Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi communities, and has evolved into a celebration of cultures and traditions from across the globe including China, Africa and South America.

Other attractions this year include Sukhshinda Shinda, upcoming Yorkshire-based band Jinx, and the Pakistani boy band NRG.

Shaheen Unis, the Edinburgh Mela co-founder and board director, told the local media: "We expect a large number of visitors at the arts pavilion and I'm pleased that we can also confirm such a varied line-up of acts.

"The Edinburgh Mela aims to support up-and-coming acts as well as those who are already established. This year, with Malkit Singh and these young, fresh, talented groups performing, I'm sure no one will be disappointed".

TV presenter Tasmin Lucia Khan, who began her broadcasting career with Zee TV in 1999, will compere the main programme this year.

Organisers have also confirmed that there will be performers and artists from Uganda, South India, Brazil and Nepal, as well as a vocal group of young refugees from around the world.

Organisers hope that this year's Mela will be even more successful than last year's event, which attracted more than 60,000 visitors.

December 31, 2007

[Courtesy: IANS]

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