From Mumbai to Morrinsville – top Indian performers will visit New Zealand schools for public Diwali festivals and will also take to the road and visit schools in Tauranga and Waikato.
Folk-dance group Mudra Creation, from Mumbai, and a puppet troupe led by master puppeteer Mahipat Kavi, from Gujarat, are being hosted in New Zealand by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.
The performers will visit Tauranga Intermediate on Tuesday 20 October, and Greenpark School and Papamoa Primary the following day. They will then travel to Waikato on Thursday 22 October to perform at Morrinsville Intermediate that day, and Hillcrest Normal School the following day.
Asia New Zealand Foundation director of culture Jennifer King says the school visits are a long-running component of the Foundation’s Diwali programme, but this is the first time international Diwali performers have travelled outside Auckland and Wellington.
“These school visits give hundreds of New Zealand children the chance to learn about the traditions of Diwali, and to see the performers close up and ask them questions. It’s a fantastic way to learn about India.
“Often it also gives children from Indian families the confidence to talk about their own culture in their classroom. We’re excited to be able to take these visits to Tauranga and Waikato, where, like many parts of New Zealand, a growing number of people identify as Indian.”
Ms King says the Asia New Zealand Foundation is very grateful for the support of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, which has enabled the artists to travel to New Zealand from India.
Puppeteer Mahipat Kavi, from the western state of Gujarat, has been entertaining crowds for the past 50 years and also founded a puppet academy. His Puppet and Plays theatre company has animated some of India’s favourite stories, produced puppet serials for television and films for educational purposes.
Mudra Creation specialises in the folk dances of Maharashtra state, in India’s mid-west. The 10 dancers visiting the schools will perform a range of dances, including the lively lavani dance, often seen in popular Bollywood movies.
The two groups will also perform at Auckland’s Diwali Festival on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 October, at Hamilton Diwali Mela on Saturday 24 October, and then at Wellington’s Diwali Festival of Lights on Monday 26 October.
Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival celebrating the triumph of light over darkness and the renewal of life. Families celebrate with gatherings, clay lamps, fireworks, sharing of sweets, and worship to Lakshmi – the goddess of love, wealth and prosperity. Diwali is now also celebrated by other faiths in India and in overseas Indian communities.