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NRIs set to celebrate Raksha Bandhan

when is rakhi

From a custom-designed envelope by DuPont to send rakhis from India, to a special rakhi bazaar in India and multi-cultural performances in New Zealand, this year’s Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan promises to be vibrant.

This year, Raksha Bandhan is on 2 August but the preparations are well under way.

DuPont America has designed water-proof envelopes for rakhis that are available from India Post outlets throughout India.

Sisters can select from four designs of envelopes that are made to protect the rakhis – a symbol of love sisters tie on their brothers’ wrists in return for a promise of their protection.

when is rakhi

Sisters can buy ‘rakhis’ and rest assured they will reach their brothers undamaged in the ‘Rakhi Enve’, says India Post. “Brothers vow to protect their sisters and we vow to protect their rakhis.”

India’s cultural diversity is also reflected in the variety of rakhis available in the market, as could be seen at a recent Rakhi Bazaar in Kanpur, India hundreds of rakhis displayed unique styles – from gold and silver plated Rakhi to fragrance Rakhi.

But the colourful action is not limited to India – overseas Indians are equally excited about expressing their love for their siblings.  More than 1000 people are expected to gather at Raksha Bandan celebration in New Zealand’s Auckland city.

While Raksha Bandhan falls on 2 August, the Auckland celebrations will be on Saturday, 11 August at The Mahatma Gandhi Centre. Auckland Mayor Len Brown will inaugurate the event organized by the Hindu Organisations, Temples and Associations (HOTA) Forum.

“The Raksha Bandhan festival has the powerful yet simple message of Hindu philosophy – the world is one family (Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam),” says Srikant Bhave, coordinator of Raksha Bandhan 2012, and general secretary of Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh. Every year, one of the members in HOTA Forum gets an opportunity to host the programme on a rotation basis. This year’s host,  Hindu Swayamsewak Sangh, will carry the “Ekta Shankh”, a carving made by the Maori-Hindu sculptor Tane Singh-Lagah.

The celebrations will feature a three-hour cultural programme, says Srikant.

“Raksha Bandhan celebrations by the HOTA forum have always provided an excellent opportunity for talented practitioners of classical, traditional and folk dances from all around the world to showcase their skills.”

In the previous years, traditional performers from New Zealand, China, Japan, Middle East, and India have performed.

“This year we have Maori and Samoan performing artists on board,” says Sundara Subbiah, cultural programme coordinator for the Raksha Bandhan festival.

The festival will be celebrated in a smoke-free, alcohol-free and meat free (strictly vegetarian) family atmosphere. Entry is free.

For details contact Neesha Mistry on 021 233 5395 or email reservations to: rb@hota.org.nz

Send Rakhi Greeting for raksha bandhan.

ABOUT RAKSHA BANDHAN

The Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan, or Rakhi as it is popularly known in North India,  is veneration of a relationship between a brother and his sister. While this festival falls usually in July every year, it is on 2 August this year, if you are wondering when Rakhi is in 2012.

Sisters symbolize their affection by teing a thread, called Rakhi, around the wrist of their brothers. Brothers, in turn, vow to look after the sisters. Gifts and sweets are exchanged on the rakhi day as is the tradition for most Indian festivals.

With global migration encouraging many Indians to migrate, millions of brothers are away from their sisters, and send rakhi gifts to sisters via international services that send gifts to India.

Many websites send rakhis to India, including sending auspicious rakhi thalis to India.

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New Zealander finalist at Miss Pakistan World title

Miss Pakistan World title Maria Mughal

A Pakistan-born and New Zealand-bred girl is taking part in Miss Pakistan World contest next month. This will be the first time New Zealand will be represented at the controversial beauty pageant which is now in its 10th year. Over the years, the participants and organisers of Miss Pakistan World have attracted death threats.

Maria Mughal, an AUT Business School student, will fly to Toronto in Canada to participate in the pageant, which has never been held in Pakistan since its launch. The winner of the title will represent Pakistan in Miss Earth contest.

Like most girls her age, you will generally hear her talking about “the latest gadgets, and Korean pop and fashion trends,” as she puts it, but probe a little deeper, and you will come across a determined young woman not willing to limit her horizons by her complex upbringing.

Miss Pakistan World title Maria Mughal

Born in Kashmir in Pakistan, the 23-year old came to New Zealand with her parents when she was three years old, and struggled to find a balance between her Pakistan and New Zealand values – something that she felt a strong desire to disprove.

“Overcoming this polarity has made me the humble person that I am today,” says the South Auckland-raised girl, in an interview to The Global Indian magazine.

“The scars of my upbringing (are serving as) a reminder of what I would want to change if I had the power to do so.

“I’d like to show that I have found a balance between my Pakistani background and my western life.”

The pageant means “a new start in my life as a confident person”.

“I found it hard mentally, as a young person, to take upon the stress of my family issues,” says Maria.

“I found support within counselling services at school, to persevere through tough times and finish school.

Maria wants to support causes that help young women like her, that have difficult family backgrounds and would not get an equal chance to push for their dreams.

She has found value in discovering her roots.

“I have chosen to continue to learn about my heritage and still speak my mother tongue at home.”

She can read Arabic, and speak a mix of Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.

“I feel that if you don’t know where you come from, you won’t know who you are; it’s all about finding my identity.”

Maria is very close to her siblings – she is the eldest girl and has seven siblings. She takes her elderly role seriously. “I am constantly pushing them to dream big.”

Initially pursuing a bachelor of science, majoring in sports and exercise science and psychology, she took a break from study and worked in the fitness industry which gave her an opportunity to try her hands at marketing.

“With work experience behind me I changed to a business degree, and I am aiming to be back in the workforce early next year.”

If she won the title, she desires to promote Shakti Asian Women’s Support Group.

“They work with women to teach them what their rights (are), advocate for them and provide support when there is no one.”

Rachel Field, Maria’s friend, wants Maria’s story to show how “New Zealand’s multiculturalism has supported her to be proud of who she is and where she is from. That she would not have been able to do as much as she has in New Zealand as compared to growing up in Pakistan.”

Earlier in 2010, the winner of the pageant, Annie Rupani, known as “Ramadan Queen,” as she was crowned in the month of Ramadan, and the organisers of the event attracted extensive media coverage on the backdrop of massive floods in Pakistan that year.

The winner of Miss Pakistan World title  joined her father at the Rupani Foundation to create jobs, promote equity, and reduce poverty in the Northern Areas of Pakistan, particularly for women.

Annie came under criticism a year later for her vocal support of Veena Malik, a Pakistani actress who participated in an Indian Television show, Bigg Boss (an Indian version of reality show Big Brother).

In the early years of the pageant, fanatic groups and conservative people were against the beauty parade.

The idea of a beauty queen for Pakistan and a female representation of Pakistan was not well digested by the extremists, says Sonia Ahmad, the organiser of Miss Pakistan World title, who has received many threats over these years.

“From hate mail to threats over the phone, and long emails where Islam was explained to us, various forms and methods were used to make us stop. But I went head strong with all of them!” says Sonia in an interview to The Global Indian.

The beauty contest is funded by moderate Pakistanis and the South Asian community. Sonia hopes to use the pageant to showcase the lighter side of Pakistan.

“Pakistan needs to change and to do so, the people have to accept Miss Pakistan World as the only platform where Pakistani women can be patriotic, bold and strong!”

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Maoris used non-violence before Mahatma Gandhi – researchers

hindu council conference maori new zealand

A statue of Mahatma Gandhi greets you as you come out of the Wellington Railway station. Mahatma Gandhi led India’s movement of independence with the principles of ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (truth and justice). However, these principles were used in a fight against the same coloniser in Aotearoa (New Zealand) by the indigenous Maori community almost 50 years before the Mahatma popularised the doctrines, say two researchers.

“Post 1850s, colonisers in Aotearoa were employing various subterfuges to confiscate land from the indigenous Maori, just like they were doing in other parts of the world including India,” Drs. Rajiv Chaturvedi and Ihakara Porutu Puketapu told a conference audience in Auckland.

hindu council conference maori new zealand

Hindu Council volunteers in Wellington

They were speaking at the fourth New Zealand Hindu Conference organised by the Hindu Council of New Zealand (HCNZ), sharing their presentation: “Maori Leader Te Whiti o Rongomai: Dharmic principle of ahimsa (non-violence) in the resistance of 1870’s Aotearoa New Zealand”.

“Their methods included, as usual, inflicting war and violence on the indigenous holders of land. Parihaka, at that time the largest Maori village, took the lead in a major campaign of non-violent resistance against the European colonisers.

“Te Whiti-o-Rongomai (c. 1830 – 1907), the Maori leader who founded Parihaka in the Taranaki region of Aotearoa, inspired Maori people to resist the Europeans for their rights to land without using violence even in the face of violent provocation.

“In 1881 he led 2000 Maori to oppose trigger-happy colonising soldiers by courting arrest as the means of opposing the violent army of the coloniser.

“Te Whiti’s words in March 1880 in the face of British guns expresses the courage of strong conviction of Maori culture and an exceptionally strong human spirit. “Let not the Pakehas think to succeed by reason of their guns … I want not war, but they do. The flashes of their guns have singed our eyelashes, and yet they say they do not want war … The government come not hither to reason, but go to out-of-the-way places. They work secretly, but I speak in public so that all may hear”. The parallel with similar thinking of Hindu Dharma and other ancient cultures is unmistakable.”

Earlier, the same presentation was made at the fourth International Conference of Elders of Ancient Cultures held in Haridwar, India, when New Zealand’s first Maori delegation travelled to India.

Hindu Council of New Zealand has proposed a lasting tribute to the Mahatma of Parihaka, Te Whiti O Rongomai, through his presence in an equally prominent place in Wellington as is Mahatma Gandhi.

Dr. Ihakara Puketapu, former Secretary of Maori Affairs, says: “It is important to add to the legacy of our ancestors for our future generations.”

Also read: Rotorua to host first Indo-Maori meet

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Indian sporting heroes honoured

Ayush Bhatnagar Indian Community and sports awards

He was born weak. Weak in muscles that is. Ayush Bhatnagar was diagnosed with congenital myopathy – a muscle disorder in babies that causes difficulty in breathing; these children usually lag behind other babies in meeting normal developmental milestones such as turning over or sitting up.

Ayush was not one of them; while his weakness showed in his walk up the stage to receive a junior sportsman of the year award, his grit was written all over his face.

It was this grit that saw him win swimming and athletics titles in the Independence Games in 2007 and 2008.

In the same years, he also won the title in table tennis for Special Olympics, and followed it up with a similar title in National Games in 2009.

Ayush Bhatnagar Indian Community and sports awards

Ayush Bhatnagar receiving the junior sportsman of the year award

He won Mintram Cup for academic excellence the following year, and received a silver medal in table tennis at the Arafura Games in Australia in 2011.

On the night of 26 May 2012, Ayush shared the Junior Sportsman of the Year award with Ish Sodhi at the inaugural Indian Community and Sports Awards held at the Sudima Hotel near Auckland airport.

The 20-year old Ish (Inderbir) Singh Sodhi, who was born in Ludhiana in India, has played for Auckland under-17, Auckland under-19, and New Zealand under-19 cricket teams.

He took 4 wickets for 41 against Australia and 3 wickets for 25 against India in the under-19 tournament last month.

Ayush and Ish were one of the few achievers recognised by the awards launched this year exclusively for the people of Indian origin living in New Zealand.

Opened with Maori and Indian prayers, the mood of the evening was set by an inspiring speech by Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

TarunNethulaAwardcricket

Tarun Nethula's father receiving Supreme Sports Award from Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres (Photo: The Global Indian magazine)

The limelight of the night however was shared by Black Cap Tarun Nethula and Junior Blackstick Shareena Nana, who received sportsman and sportswoman of the year awards respectively.

Tarun, currently training overseas, also claimed the supreme sports award which was received by his doting father Sainath Nethula, as former Black Cap Gary Troup looked on from the audience. Nethulas migrated to New Zealand from Andhra Pradesh in 1997 when Tarun was 12 years old, but returned to India in few months when Tarun lost his mother.

However in 1999, Sainath returned with his son to New Zealand where he believed Tarun will have a good sporting future. The leg-spinner made his first-class debut in 2008-09, helping Auckland win the State Championship by finishing top of the wickets chart. The year 2012 saw him join the New Zealand squad for their limited-over series against Zimbabwe.

ShareenaNana sportswoman of the year

Shareena Nana receives Sportswoman of the Year Award (Photo: The Global Indian magazine)

Shareena Nana was picked in the New Zealand under-21 side last year. The 21-year-old former Pakuranga College student was one of 18 chosen from a Future Black Sticks camp, for the hockey squad that travelled to India for the Four Nations tournament in November last year. The Future Black Sticks camp prepares players for junior world cups and Youth Olympics.

Closely following on the footsteps was Rishija Dolli who received the Junior Sportswoman of the Year award. The Auckland-born girl has excelled in sports, dramatics and community work.

Rishija Dolli Joris de Bres

Rishija Dolli receives Junior Sportswoman of the Year award from Joris de Bres (Photo: The Global Indian magazine)

The St Cuthberts College student captained 1st XI cricket team as well as Badminton B team, while also playing in Senior Netball team. She is one of the very few girl guides on the central Auckland zone to achieve the Aotearoa award, and leading the Ronald McDonald House fund-raising programme for Auckland Hospital.

In the community segment, Waitakere Indian Association received the Supreme community award for providing a platform for new migrants and working with the council and other agencies in promoting events that allow the Indian community to share their culture.

Founded in 2000, the association has organised Diwali festival on the theme of community health and wellbeing along with Holi festival, sport events and networking meets for senior citizens. It organised Fiji Flood Relief Appeal last year. The association also won the Auckland City Infratil Community Award in the Arts and Culture category last year.

The community volunteer of the year award went to Constable Wells Albert who is Ethnic Peoples Community Relations Officer for New Zealand Police.

Many volunteers and community organisations were also acknowledged.

The awards were conceived by SPROUT – a group that promotes opportunities in sports and recreation for people of South Asian origin in New Zealand.  The Global Indian magazine was a media partner for the event managed by volunteers .

The true winners of the night were these volunteers and the organisation behind them – SPROUT. The awards team was led by Munish Bhatt and Ram Lingam.

It was quite over-whelming to see the quality of young minds at work, says event co-ordinator Aditee Naik. “I was extremely impressed with the dedication and devotion of people within the community. It is really fascinating to see the contributions of Indians in community development and sports.”

SPROUT trustee Munish Bhatt shared the feeling. “What everyone witnessed was a humble parade of the unsung heroes and sports achievers who made the Indian community very proud.”

Indian Community and Sports Awards winners 2012

Supreme Sports Award 2012: Tarun Nethula

Supreme Community Award 2012: Waitakere Indian Association.

Community Volunteer of the year 2012

Winner: Wells Albert

Runner ups: Ashika Jyoti Prasad and Minoo Ghadiali

International Student of the year 2012

Winner: Jasbinder Singh

Runner Up: Yaseer Shafiq

Community Organisation of the year 2012

Winner: Waitakere Indian Association

Runner up: Bharitya Samaj Charitable Trust

Senior Citizen of the year 2012

Winner: Jagjeet Singh Kathuria

Runner up: Thilliar Varnakulasingham

Sportsman of the year 2012

Winner: Tarun Nethula

Runner up: Jeet Raval and Bhupinder Singh

Sportswoman of the year 2012

Winner: Shareena Nana

Runner up: Pearl Hans

Junior Sportsman of the year 2012

Winner: Ayush Bhatnagar and Ish Sodhi

Runner up: Vedant Zaveri

Junior Sportswoman of the year 2012

Winner: Rishija Dolli

Runner up: Denise Mendonce

Long Service Award 2012

Jeet Sachdev

Pratima Devi Nand

Ranjna Patel

Kantilal Patel

Kandavanam Thuraisundaram

Dr. Nagalingam Rasalingam

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The Queen: fund-raising event for women victims

A youth theatre group has put together a play which will also be a charity fund-raiser to support migrant and minority communities of New Zealand.

The Queen is a dance drama organised by a South East Asian youth group to raise funds for Shakti Ethnic Family Services for promoting the well-being of ethnic families.

“For over a decade Shakti has been striving to strengthen and enable safer, happier families,” says a spokesperson for the organisation.

“Many migrant families in New Zealand are unable to fully integrate and lead safe, healthy lives.

“Barriers associated with migration and other cultural, linguistic and societal barriers keep families disengaged and unsafe within their own homes.

“Such environments give rise to family violence, cross-cultural conflict and mental illness.

“Shakti has been tackling such issues.”

The fund-raising event features a montage of pieces with the central theme of the empowerment of women.
“The first half is highlighted by a short play that uses stylised physical theatre to showcase the female victim’s journey from oppression
to empowerment,” says the spokesperson.
‘The Queen’ is a dance ballet that combines western and classical Indian music and is choreographed in the ancient Indian classical dance form of Bharatha Natyam. Bharatha Natyam derives its name from Bhava (meaning expression ) Raga (meaning melody) and Thala (meaning rhythm).

“It is through these modes of expression that the dancers present a contemporary production with its roots in Indian mythology to tell the story of a strong, independent queen of yesteryear.”

The Queen

27 May, doors open at 5pm

Auckland Girls Grammar, Auckland

For tickets contact: 021 11 73 731, email: thequeen27may@gmail.com

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Experience the world in a day in Auckland

Amidst news report of job losses and employment discrimination against Asians in New Zealand, the country’s largest city is hosting a cultural festival in an ethnically diverse suburb.

This Sunday 1 April, War Memorial Park in Mt Roskill, will host an extravaganza of ethnic food, live performances and a wide range of one-off experiences for the 2012 Auckland International Cultural Festival.

“It’s a celebration of Auckland’s diversity and I’d like to invite all Aucklanders come along and join in the fun,” says Auckland’s mayor, Len Brown.

“The event is a great opportunity to experience some of the many cultures living here.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown enjoying last year’s Auckland International Cultural Festival (Image: Auckland Council)

Auckland welcomes migrants from across the world and our different ethnicities bring a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere to Auckland.”


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Highlights of the festival this year include the wide range of ethnic foods available at Tastes of the World, the entertainment and food of The French Quarter, Sounds of Indonesia and the Fonda Latina, where you can learn and take part in salsa and flamenco dancing.

Also featured is the Ethnic Soccer Cup, an annual competition to decide Auckland’s ultimate soccer nation.

The free event will run from 10am to 5pm.

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Review of funding policies to assist communities

New Zealand’s largest council is preparing to review more than 400 of 1200 leases in council-owned land and buildings so as to streamline rental charges across the region and make it easier for community groups to budget for the rents of these venues.
Auckland Council is reviewing policies covering support of community groups through funding, subsidised rentals, and the leasing of council-owned buildings.
The council is exploring the introduction of standardised rentals and fees including free maintenance of buildings to ensure community groups are better able to budget for their operation.
“We’re conscious of trying to do the best for community groups with policies which are transparent and equitable,” says the chair of the Regional Development and Operations Committee, Councillor Ann Hartley.
“The aim is to provide common arrangements across the region that are fair and transparent.
“Currently there’s a myriad of different arrangements inherited from the seven former councils and we need to introduce some clarity and consistency,” says Hartley.
The review will also assist the council to better identify its assets across the region and their requirements for maintenance.
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Indian classical music comes to New Zealand

New Zealanders are in for a treat of an extravagenza of Indian classical music this summer.

Tulu (left) and Prasanta Bhanja

Returning to New Zealand by popular demand is Prasanta Bhanja, a classical musician performing on sitar in Rotorua. He will be joined by his wife, Tulu Bhanja,  on tamboura in what is going to be a memorable night at Linton Park Community Centre, 16 Kamahi Place, Pukehangi, Rotorua at 4.30pm on 29 January.

The performance will succeed a brief presentation about Indian classical music.

And if your thrust for India’s oldest form of music is not satiated, then there’s a unique performance of sitar, violin and tabla in Auckland.

Pandit Chaudhuri is a recipient of Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest coveted civilian award,  and has composed many popular  symphonies, created eight new ragas, wrote three books and won many national and international honours. He has performed in concerts and lectured on Indian music in 130 countries around the world. This is his first tour in New Zealand.

Come March and Auckland will host Pandit Debu Chaudhuri, who is regarded as India’s foremost Sitar maestro, in a programme aptly titled Sur Anjali on Saturday 24 March, at 7.00pm at Great Hall, Auckland Town Hall.

He is joined by Dr Chintamani Rath, is a scholar violinist of rare ability. He is an expert practitioner of both Indian and Western classical music and has performed in many countries.The maestros will be supported by Pandit Anup Ghosh, one of India’s popular tabla performers. This is a Charity Fundraiser for Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT). For tickets, call THE EDGE call centre on 09 357 3355 or 0800 BUY TICKETS (0800 289 842).