Big John’s Mela in Birmingham: People react to the huge South Asian festival in Cannon Hill Park

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Big John’s Mela took place in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham as a one-day festival yesterday (Sunday, August 6) - here is what people thought of it

Big John’s Mela - a massive South Asian music and culture festival - took place yesterday (Sunday, August 6) in Birmingham with thousands of people visiting Cannon Hill Park in Moseley. People queued up despite showers in the morning after organisers assured everyone that the event wouldn’t be cancelled.

The mela - which means fair - returned in 2022 after almost a three-year break due to Covid restrictions. Unlike last year’s two day event, it was confined to a one-day affair in 2023 with famous artists like Pakistani and Bollywood singer and actor Ali Zafar in the line-up. Other artists included Hosai, Nikita Kanda, Firstman, Mani Liaqat, Metz and Trix, Haseeb Haze and Muki, Rahim Pardesi, Asif Khan, Chahat Mehmood Ali Qawwal, Ameen Tady and Jaan Ali Khan.

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From Qawwali - Sufi Islamic devotional singing - to pop music and the latest hits - the mela had a great number of talented local and international artists to entertain the audiences. The lively festival also had a bazaar (market) selling ethnic products, street food stalls and entertainment for the little ones.

It was a family-friendly event just like last year and many people have shared their experience of the festival on social media. While the festival was great, there were mixed reactions to Zafar’s performance as he had to cut it short due to ill health.

One person said on Twitter: “Went to Big John mela only for Ali Zafar, dude turned up said he was ill, sung for ten minutes and dipped.” Another added: “Big respect @AliZafarsays ! Thank you for still attending big John mega mela even though you weren’t well. Your fans appreciate it.”

The artist shared a bunch of videos from this performance on his Instagram stories. Another artist Metz N Trix also posted videos from the festival showing a vibrant ambience and thumping beats.

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Another person added: “So many familiar faces at Big John‘s Mela today... this is very awks.” One person on Instagram shared a snap with Zafar whom he referred to as a “living legend.”

However, there were more complaints on the mela’s Instagram account. One person wrote: “Bad organisation with queues taking 3 hours+. Need more entrances and more ticket booths.” Another added: “Everything was messed up…had a very bad experience.” Yet another festival-goer said: “Had so much fun.”

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