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.