The Bradford South Asian Festival (BSAF) has burst onto the scene with an electrifying start, as their opening event “Gigglewalees” triumphantly sold out not once, but twice. As the curtain rises on another vibrant chapter, BSAF is back from August 18 to 20, ready to ignite a blazing weekender that will illuminate the district’s 2023 South Asian Heritage Month celebrations.
Embracing the theme “J.O.Y – Just Own You,” this year’s festival sets out to honor the simplest yet most profound aspects of South Asian identity, heritage, and experience that enrich our lives. From the flavors of our cuisine and the melodies of our music to the threads of our clothing and the rhythms of our dances, BSAF seeks to spotlight the myriad elements that bring a smile to our faces and laughter to our hearts.
The festival’s essence lies in the everyday marvels that often go unnoticed – whether it’s relishing a samosa with cherished friends, belting out tunes in a cozy living room gathering, or donning a sequined Parveen Babi-inspired jumpsuit that exudes confidence. BSAF invites everyone to embrace their unique journey and find joy in the ordinary moments that weave the tapestry of their lives.
Setting the stage on fire was the debut event “Gigglewalees,” hosted by the acclaimed BBC Asian Network DJ Noreen Khan and headlined by the incomparable comedian Shazia Mirza. Joining the laughter brigade were local comedians Khalida, Penny, and Shugufta, making their BSAF debut. The Kala Sangam venue buzzed with energy as the all-female lineup took the audience on a rollercoaster of humour and emotion.
A delighted attendee shared, “What an excellent night it was. I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Shazia Mirza was a little controversial but funny nevertheless. I loved Noreen Khan and I really liked Shugufta. All the ladies were brilliant. Overall it was a great event.”
Aisha Iqbal, one of the organisers and Event Director, expressed her elation at the resounding success of Gigglewalees, attributing the triumph to the laughter-sparking performances and the dedication of the event’s volunteers.
As the festival unfolds, a rich tapestry of experiences awaits.
On Saturday, 19 August, the festivities continue with a traditional Antakshari sing-song, guided by Bradford’s very own South Asian women’s choir, Song-Geet. Teams will vie for supremacy in the ultimate Antakshari showdown, celebrating the rich musical heritage of the region. As the sun sets, “Disco Deewaney,” a ladies-only retro Bollywood disco, will light up the night. It’s a glamorous celebration of desi kitsch, inviting everyone to dance the night away.
Rahila Hussain, co-director of BSAF, captures the essence of the festival’s mission: “With this festival, we want to shine a spotlight on the little things in our ordinary lives… that bring us extraordinary joy, a joy that can be shared with our neighbors of all backgrounds. We want to bring the beautiful heritage of the subcontinent to life in glorious technicolor for all our communities – and spread the fun to everyone!”
Amidst the challenges of the times, BSAF serves as a vibrant tapestry of unity, sharing, and celebration. As the festival continues to evolve, it promises to be a joyful ode to the colors, sounds, and flavors that make the South Asian experience truly extraordinary.
Find out how to book onto one of the exciting events here at Bradford South Asian Festival