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New Zealand gets ready to celebrate Diwali

Sand sculptor Ranjan Kumar Ganguly

Following its tradition of celebrating major cultural events, New Zealand Parliament will host 300 people on the occasion of the Hindu festival of Diwali at Parliament on Monday 26 September. These celebrations are almost one month in advance, as Indians worldwide will celebrate Diwali on 26 October.

Diwali, or Depawali, marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year according to the Lunar calendar. It celebrates the victory of the good over the evil, by lighting lights. The word dipavali literally means a row of lights. It is the victory of light over darkness.

It is celebrated by NRIs and global Indians with great zeal and has become a well-established part of New Zealand’s cultural calendar.

While lights and firecrackers symbolise Diwali, the celebrations in the New Zealand parliament will be quieter.  The fire crackers will be missing at Parliament but not the Diwali spirit of togetherness, light, warmth and happiness.

The audience, which is expected to consist of people from many ethnicities, will hear speeches, watch a traditional dance performance, a slide show, and eat delicious food.

The Parliamentary event also offers an opportunity for the Indian community to be thanked for their contribution to New Zealand.

There is a growing relationship between India and New Zealand, particularly in the areas of tourism, education and trade, says Mervin Singham, the Director of the Office of Ethnic Affairs, which is helping to organise the event.

“This relationship is set to grow with the India-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, which is currently being negotiated.

“Sharing celebrations such as Diwali plays an important role in making New Zealand a more tolerant and vibrant nation.”

Diwali celebrations in Auckland in 2010. (Image courtesy: Asia:NZ Foundation)

Following a similar tradition of celebration is Asia:New Zealand Foundation’s Diwali celebrations in Auckland and Wellington which are likely to be even bigger as they coincide with the Rugby World Cup 2011. The foundation’s Diwali celebrations will take place in Auckland on 8 and 9 October and in Wellington the following weekend – on 15 and 16 October.

Some of the amazing performers coming over to New Zealand from India:

Sand artist Ranjan Kumar Ganguly from Orissa

Manipuri dancers from the JN Manipur Dance Academy

The Chennai-based Indian Puppeteers

Sand sculptor Ranjan Kumar Ganguly

Sand sculptor Ranjan Kumar Ganguly

The Wellington celebrations will be at TSB Bank Arena. Entry is by gold coin. Besides the guest artists from India, the festival will feature an exhibition of portraits of Wellington’s Indian community painted by artist-in-residence Swaroop Mukerji.

Diwali celebrations in Auckland will take place at Aotea Square and Aotea Centre – The Edge. Highlights of the family-friendly festival include delicious food stalls, traditional and contemporary dance and music, the hotly contested Bollywood dance competition and a grand finale fireworks display on Sunday evening.

For more details, visit the festival website.

When is Diwali in 2011?

24 October, 2011 – Dhanteras
25 October, 2011 – Choti Diwali / Kali Chaudas / Naraka Chaturdashi
26 October, 2011 – Main Deepavali / Baddi Diwali (Lakshmi Puja)
27 October, 2011 – Padwa & Govardhan Puja / Pratipat
28 October, 2011 – Bhai Duj / Bhhaya Dooj / Bhai Beej

 

Diwali celebrations in New Zealand in 2010. (Image: Asia:NZ Foundation)

What is Diwali?

Diwali is a five-day festival that comprises Dhanteras, Choti Diwali, Badi (Main) Diwali, Padwa and Bhaiduj. Diwali is widely celebrated in all parts of India and overseas, by people of many ethnicities including Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists. During Deepavali people pray to Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, light, prosperity and wisdom. Prayers are also offered to Lord Ganesha, the ‘Remover of Obstacles’ or the ‘Lord of Beginnings’.

Deepavali celebrations take place in many countries in the world. On the day of Deepavali people exchange gifts, using firecrackers, making fireworks & bonfires, having festive meals. The Indian Festival of Lights takes place after the monsoon season when the weather is pleasant.

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