Arts and Culture
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Diwali Festival of Lights
Diwali is celebrated by people in India and Indians living abroad. Families light lamps, candles and fireworks to symbolise the triumph of light over darkness, wisdom over ignorance and good over evil.
The Auckland and Wellington Diwali festivals are held each year in mid October.
Watch a video of highlights from the 2016 Auckland Diwali festival
Diwali, also known as Deepavali (literally 'a row of lamps'), is perhaps the most important and ancient of the Indian festivals.
Traditionally, Diwali is celebrated for five days, and takes place at the new moon on 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartik or Karthika (October/November). This is at the beginning of the winter season and is called the “darkest night of the year”, so lamps are lit to brighten this moonless night.
Originally a Hindu festival, Diwali is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains. It's an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.
Diwali signifies different things in different areas of India. For example, in Gujarat, the festival honours Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. In north India, it celebrates the god Rama’s homecoming to the kingdom of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile. To light his way and rejoice at his return, the people of Ayodhya illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas and fireworks.
But generally speaking, Diwali signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and renewal of life.
Diwali in New Zealand
The Asia New Zealand Foundation first held the Diwali festivals in 2002. They were set up to raise public awareness of traditional Indian culture, and acknowledge the contribution made by the country’s Indian communities during their long history in New Zealand.
In their first year, about 70,000 people attended the Diwali celebrations in Auckland and Wellington. Last year, more than 150,000 visited the festivals.