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Sai temple opens in Auckland

SaiBabaTempleAuckland

After many months’ hard-work by the members of Shri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan of New Zealand, the brand new Sai Baba Temple in Auckland was inaugurated on Thursday 6 February 2014.

SaitempleAuckland

The four-day long opening celebrations began with a Ganesh puja at 8.30am on 6 February, and continued till the evening of 9 February.

For devotees outside Auckland as well as for international devotees, the event organisers made the opening ceremony available as a live stream on the Shirdi Sai Baba Sansthan’s website.

The highlight of the opening ceremony was the Kumbha Abhishekam and Prana Pratishta of Shri Shirdi Saibaba and other deities,  performed by Guruji Chandrabanu Satpathji on Sunday 9 February.

new saibaba temple new zealand

The temple consecration rituals began many days earlier, and Yantra Pratishta of all deities including Saibaba was performed on Thursday 6 February. As a part of this ritual Navaratnas offered by devotees were placed beneath the deities along with Yantras which will be there forever.

New zealand sai baba temple

The brand new temple complex also has a community centre, and is open to visitors every day from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm and 6.30 pm to 8.30 pm.

The dream of building a Sai Baba temple in Auckland was born many years ago – in February 2002 – when a group of Sai Baba devotees came together to form a group to the aim of building a temple.

After many years of tireless efforts, the Sansthan acquired freehold land with a total area of 2975 sq m which contained a 1960 sq m warehouse at 12 – 18, Princes Street in Onehunga in central Auckland – the site where the new temple is built.

While the temple dream was taking shape, Santhan began conducting weekly prayer-meetings (satsangs) that included bhajans, Sai japam, pravachans and meditation every Thursday Mt Roskill War Memorial Hall, 13 May Road in Mt Roskill in Auckland.

new Zealand Shirdi Sai Baba temple

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NZ parliament celebrates Diwali

Members of the Indian community from around New Zealand gathered at Parliament last night to celebrate the Diwali. The festival of lights will be celebrated around the world on 13 November this year.

Ethnic Affairs Minister, Judith Collins, welcomed 250 guests, including the prime minister, John Key, community leaders and those from a range of ethnic communities.

The director of the Office of Ethnic Affairs, Mervin Singham, opened the celebration.

“In a multicultural society, it’s important to develop bonds of respect, friendship and understanding across people from diverse backgrounds. Without these, we cease to be communities,” Mervin said.

The Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand, Avanindra Kumar Pandey, told the audience that New Zealand is a very welcoming place and the remarkable warmth of its people helps to cement the friendship between the two countries.

The President of the New Zealand Indian Central Association, Paul Singh Bains noted that Diwali is celebrated around the world and is a time when family takes centre stage and people have time to reflect on their achievements.

The lighting of the traditional diya – or lamp, he said, signifies love, joy, pride and hope.

A traditional floor decoration, or Rangoli, made from coloured powder formed a vibrant feature at the entrance to the Banquet Hall. The Hindu Council of New Zealand organised the Rangoli created by artist Sudha Thomas with help from a youth Interfaith group from Wellington.

Diwali new zealand

New Zealand prime minister, John Key, talks to young participants in Diwali celebrations as the ethnic affairs minister, Judith Collins, looks on.

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Fiji gets ready to celebrate Diwali

Fiji Diwali festival nadi

Fiji is offering a cultural experience as it is set to celebrate the annual Indian Diwali Festival of Lights from 19 October  to 12 November this year at RB Patel Jetpoint Martintar in Nadi.

A highlight of the Festival will be the ornate light and candle decorations, Indian sweets and snacks and homes that are open to family and friends for a time of rejoicing.

Fiji Diwali festival nadi

Nearly 38% of Fiji population is of Indian descent. Since the first Indians arrived in Fiji in 1879, the Indian community has kept alive the spirit of their homeland with festivals and traditions.

The festival will put up agricultural shows, entertainment, shopping and amusement rides on Friday 9 November from 6.30pm and from 7pm on Saturday 10 November.

On Sunday 11 November, visitors can enjoy TISI Sangam Performances/Nadi Nari Sabha from 10am – 2pm, followed by an agriculture show and amusement rides, and then Sanatan Dharam Indian Night.

The final night of the festival will include a brilliant closing ceremony, fireworks display and live band from 7pm to 11.30pm.

Diwali is the festival of the attainment of nirvana by Mahariva, one of the great heroes of the Indian culture, back in 537BC. Celebrated by Sikhs, Hindus and Jains, the festival is celebrated over a five-day period according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar.

Each day features a celebration of one of the principal stories associated with the festival which tell a story of the triumph of various Indian deities over demons and the revelation of a new leader for the kingdom.

(Image courtesy: Pacific Destinationz)
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Volunteers sweat out for Auckland Diwali festival

Nearly 120 volunteers applied to help Auckland celebrate Diwali this year; just 39 were selected. The oldest is 60 years old, the youngest only 16. Some of these volunteers will lend their experience gained from their volunteering work last year at the one of the world’s largest sporting events – the Rugby World Cup.

Auckland set to turn into little India – Auckland’s Diwali festival is just over a week away.  The programme starts at 12 noon on Saturday 13 October and concludes with a fireworks display on Sunday night at 9.15pm.

Illuminated strawberries, tamarillos, grapes, blood oranges and pomegranate, traditional halva and pistachios – that’s just one innovative dish on the menu as restaurants rise to the challenge of creating a unique vegetarian dish to celebrate Auckland Diwali Festival.

Clooney, Vinnies and Wine Chambers are among 15 restaurants taking part in Diwali Taste on a Plate food challenge and all participating restaurants will feature the Diwali Taste on a Plate dishes until 13 November.

Another highlight is the Diwali Delights programme at AUT’s Manukau Campus which is free and includes a Photographic Exhibition entitled Rivers of Colour, by leading Dunedin photographer John Cosgrove.

Also, a 15-member Gujarati dance group Rangashree joins the international line up to perform on the Aotea Stage at the Diwali Festival.

Established in 1998, the Rangashree School of Fine Arts is a Public Charitable Trust based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat to promote Indian art and culture while maintaining the spirit of India’s dance traditions.

At the same time, real estate agents Barfoot & Thompson are challenging Auckland residents to decorate their house Diwali style in celebration of this year’s two day event. Barfoot & Thompson CEO Peter Thompson will be part of the festival judging panel.

“This competition is a way for people to embrace the Diwali Festival celebrations, have some fun decorating their homes with the chance to win a prize for it. We’re proud to continue to be supporting this great event” says Peter.

Teams from many organisations have come together to make this festival bigger and diverse than earlier years.  Eric Ngan is one of the event producers who has been living and breathing the 2012 Festival since he and his team began planning in April this year.

Festivals are really complex projects, says Eric. “Your aim is to align and energise multiple work streams, artforms, logistics, stakeholders, departments, organisations, stallholders, sponsors and performers, all together on the same day to create an exciting event for the public.”

Auckland Diwali Festival Programme

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Aftab to lead Chicago India Day Parade

Move over politicians! Bollywood seems to take over almost every public platform where Indians throng, and the latest addition is India’s forthcoming independence day parade. The platform is Chicago.

Bollywood actor Aftab Shivdasani will lead the India Day Parade on 18 Aug, in celebration of 66 years of India’s independence.

In a bid to attract NRIs living in Chicago, the event organisers,  the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) of Chicago, invite a celebrity each year, mostly from Bollywood.

The parade, which displays Indian culture, will be led by  Aftab down Devon Avenue, the epicenter of “Little India,” in the North-west suburb of Chicago, says a statement from the organisers.

The parade moves through more than 10 blocks and is usually attended by thousands of curious onlookers.

“I am proudly looking forward to leading the parade in Chicago,” says Aftab.  “Nothing is more satisfying than celebrating India’s Independence Day in America with Indian Americans.”

Ajai Aghinotri, FIA Chicago president and trustee Iftekhar Sharif worked to arrange Aftab’s participation.

“Aftab is a great performer and a very humble celebrity,” says Ajai.

Aftab has played a role in 40 Bollywood films and is currently working on the sequel of the hit movie “Masti.” The sequel, titled “Grand Masti,” brings back the blockbuster original cast: Aftab Shivdasani, Vivek Oberoi and Ritesh Deshmukh.