International performers, the Kalika Kala Kendra dance group, will bring centuries-old traditions to life on the main stage at the 2017 Auckland Diwali Festival, being held in Auckland’s central city next month. This is the 16th year of the Auckland Diwali Festival, which will take place at Aotea Square and Queen Street from midday to 9pmon Saturday, 14 and Sunday, 15 October.
The free, family friendly festival showcases and celebrates traditional and contemporary Indian culture, including dance and music, food, fashion, arts and crafts, and street-theatre, ending with the famous Barfoot & Thompson fireworks finale.
The renowned Kalika Kala Kendra dancers, who will travel to Auckland from Ahmednagar in Maharashtra State, India to perform at Auckland Diwali Festival, were founded by Marathi film star and social activist Rajashree Nagarkar to provide girls in her nomadic community with a livelihood.
They are experts at the romantic folk dance style known as ‘lavani’ – a combination of traditional song and dance performed to the quick tempo beats of dholki, a percussion instrument.
While the origins of lavani date back to the 1560s, it wasn’t until the 1700s that the musical style came into prominence as a form of entertainment and morale booster for weary soldiers.
The dancers wear 9 metre long saris and heavy jewellery including a wide belt at the waist. Their ghungroos, or ankle bells, can weigh as much as 10-15kg.
Charmaine Ngarimu, Head of Major Events for Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), says Auckland is shaped by a rich ethnic mix of people and traditions.
“The Auckland Diwali Festival is an opportunity to celebrate and connect with local Indian communities. It’s a must do event in Auckland’s major event calendar, and the popularity of the festival continues to grow every year, attracting tens of thousands of people during the weekend.”
Asia New Zealand Foundation Executive Director Simon Draper says the Auckland Diwali Festival brings together many different Indian communities.
“This festival is an opportunity that gives these communities the chance to share their own special cultural traditions and foods with the wider Auckland community. We’re delighted to still be supporting this iconic event 15 years after it was first held.”
The Kalika Kala Kendra dance group will join more than 800 local performers, including regular festival favourites BAD (Bhangra Auckland Da), Raunak Punjab Dee, and the Khottey Sikkey Dance Group, and the hotly contested Radio Tarana Bollywood Dance Competition and the Indian Weekender Mr and Ms. Diwali contest.
The Kalika Kala Kendra dance group is visiting New Zealand courtesy of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the High Commission of India and Air New Zealand.