A new festival is due to take place dedicated to the art and creative projects celebrating Oldham’s South Asian communities.

Oldham Coliseum Theatre in partnership with Manchester Museum and the Women’s Chai Project will host Khushi, which features performances, exhibitions, workshops and community conversations.

The festival will run at the Coliseum, Oldham Library and Lifelong Learning Centre and Oldham’s Parliament Square on Wednesday 24, Thursday 25 and Saturday 27 August 2022.

Six exhibitions will run throughout Khushi. At Oldham Library on Wednesday and Thursday from 10am – 5pm A Pop Up Manchester Museum gives a special preview of their new South Asia Gallery before the museum reopens in February 2023, and on the Wednesday only Manchester International Festival present Factory Roadshow giving an insight into their forthcoming city centre venue The Factory.

Throughout the whole festival from 10am – 6pm at the Coliseum you’ll find: The Boishakhi Fish by Werneth Primary School Chai Ladies, a giant fish reflecting the Boishakhi Mela – a Bengali celebration of heritage; Pottered Together by Roundthorn Primary Academy Chai Ladies, a collection of pottery that reflects happiness and celebrates Pakistani and British heritage and culture; Soul, Spirituality and Ceramics by Coppice Primary Academy Chai Ladies, a collection of ceramic plates reflecting spirituality; and Eid, Past & Present curated by Coliseum Associate Alumni, poet, playwright and producer Hafsah Aneela Bashir, exploring the ways in which we celebrate Eid.

Khushi also features Let’s Eat Together at 1pm and 6pm each day for everyone to come together and share food and stories.

Khushi kicks of on Wednesday 24 August with Dhol Drillaz playing in Parliament Square. That afternoon at the Coliseum join a Bollywood Masala Workshop led by Perveen Hussain taking you from warmup to performance.

Women from Jigsaw Homes will present From Bangladesh to Oldham, a new performance celebrating Bengali culture, tradition and women’s fashion created working with artist Nipa Nessa, and Nipa will also host a Circus Skills Workshop with ribbon twirling, hula hooping, plate spinning and more.

That evening The Indian Association presents SAFAR JINDAGI KA/Journey of Life, a tale that spans one couples’ lifetime of happiness told in an Anthakshree style with all your favourite Bollywood songs from the ‘50s right up to the present day.

The action-packed first day of the festival closes with A Conversation with Shobna Gulati on the Coliseum’s main stage. One of Oldham’s finest exports, Shobna discusses her life, career and her recently published book Remember Me? Discovering My Mother As She Lost Her Memory.

On Thursday 25 August West Oldham Chai Ladies present Log Kya Kehengey?/What Will People Say?, a new piece written, produced and performed by the group working with artist Perveen Hussain, telling the story of one woman’s journey from her village in Pakistan to a new life in the UK. The Natraj Dance Academy perform traditional folk, contemporary and Bollywood Dance and The Chai Ladies perform poetry reflecting on their journeys, struggles and happiness in Poetry of Life.

That evening Coliseum Associate Artist afshan d’souza-lodhi presents How To Eat Mangoes, a performative, interactive lecture from our resident Rishta Aunty who sells mangoes by day and matchmakes by night.

Thursday closes with a double bill from Anjum Malik with Nahid and Zoe Iqbal with Halal Hens. Nahid tells the story of a 12 year old girl about to be reunited with her father in England after living apart from him in Pakistan, while Halal Hens is the story of a ‘Halal’ Hen do – no strippers, no booze, but plenty of drama. On Saturday 27 August Greenhill Primary Chai Ladies present The Alchemy of Memories Poetry Collection, performing poems about their memories of Pakistan and England created in workshops with writer Zoe Iqbal, and there’s an opportunity to try your hand at writing with Kali Theatre’s Discovery Writing Workshop. Maya Dhokia presents a sharing of spoken word pieces focusing on culture, heritage and joy.

Fatima Girl Group present Reality, a mini play that shines a light on cross-generational and cultural issues and The Chai Ladies discuss happiness, mental health and wellbeing over a cup of chai in the CHAI Circle Podcast Live.

The festival comes to a close with Khushi Music Night from SM Music – a gig packed with singers, rappers and musicians performing Bollywood, Bhangra, Urban Desi and more. The event features performances from both established and emerging musicians including: Hussnain Lahori, Joash Gill, Kami Kane, Luqy and Ri Ri Dance Academy, all hosted by actor and award-winning comedian Mani Liaqat.

All events, workshops and exhibitions are free to attend and Let’s Eat Together food is complimentary.

The festival has been created by Oldham Coliseum Theatre, Manchester Museum and Chai Ladies Project and is funded by Garfield Weston Foundation, Jigsaw Foundation, Manchester University and The Wellcome Trust.