Ed Sheeran duet with Punjabi star Diljit Dosanjh delights Mumbai – and lights up India’s social media

CNNBritish singer Ed Sheeran wowed the stage in Mumbai with Diljit Dosanjh over the weekend as the pair sang a rendition of the Indian artist’s hit track “Lover” in Punjabi, a duet that promptly lit up India’s social media.

Both artists posted videos of their performances on Instagram, with huge cheers from the crowd as Sheeran invited his singing partner onto the stage.

“Got to bring out @diljitdosanjh tonight in Mumbai and sing in Punjabi for the first time. I’ve had such an incredible time in India, more to come!” Sheeran wrote in a post.

Singer and actor Dosanjh, 40, is one of the biggest South Asian artists worldwide and has played a major role in putting Punjabi music on the map internationally. He made history in 2023 as the first Punjabi artist to perform at Coachella.

Over the past 15 years, Sheeran has gone from self-releasing his EPs and playing small bars in London to one of modern pop’s best-selling song writers. He is in the middle of his mammoth two-and-a half-year long global “Mathematics” tour.

More than 50,000 concertgoers were packed into the Mahalaxmi Racecourse to see Dosanjh’s surprise appearance, as the Indian star hyped up the audience and Sheeran rocked on an acoustic guitar, singing parts of the chorus.

“We had no idea Diljit was going to be here, it felt like moon had descended,” a fan said in a video recap posted by the Indian star.

“I am still processing what just happened here, I am never going to forget this night,” another concertgoer said.

Spotify India commented on a video posted by Sheeran saying, “we see fire on that stage,” in reference to one of the British star’s hits.

Fans and Indian celebrities on social media praised Dosanjh for getting Sheeran to sing in an Indian language.

Bollywood actor Varun Dhawan called it “global domination,” in a comment on Dosanjh’s Instagram video.

“I was standing in the audience shrieking like a fan girl. This was the multiverse event nobody expected,” commented comedian Sahil Bulla.

“Hats off to Diljit,” wrote another user. “This man has literally blown-up Punjabi music scene making other artists [sing] in Punjabi waiting for their collab.”

Dosanjh has collaborated with other English-speaking singers and last year released bilingual track “Hass Hass” with Sia, the Australia-born artist behind “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart.”

And fans are hoping for more international crossovers with the Indian artist, with one person commenting “first Sia, now Ed, Diljit gonna make everyone sing in Punjabi.”

India has 23 official languages, including English, and is home to hundreds of other mother tongues.

Punjabi is native to the Punjab region of India, as well as neighboring Pakistan. Around the world, there are over 100 million speakers of Punjabi across the South Asian subcontinent and diaspora communities.

During the concert, Sheeran also thanked fans for braving hours of traffic to reach the event.

Roads leading to the sprawling 225-acre venue – equivalent to roughly 170 American football fields – were jammed with cars some five hours before the gig began at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, according to CNN staff who attended.

The traffic was so bad that some fans left their cars and walked the final 2-kilometer (1.2 mile) stretch to the entrances.

“I know India is a big place but everyone here at the concert is not necessarily from Mumbai. People have traveled a long way to be here today. People got on trains, planes, they drove, and got kids. I know a lot goes into you spending your Saturday night with me,” Sheeran said.

“This is just the beginning,” he added, and made a promise that he would return to India.