Reflection and celebration at Diwali festivals
Thursday, 1 October 2009
Organisers are promising that there will be no signs of an economic downturn at the vibrant Diwali Festivals in Auckland and Wellington that are expected to be as popular as ever.
Each year thousands of people throng these immensely family friendly events to mark a much loved Indian cultural tradition.
The festivals are organised by the Asia New Zealand Foundation in partnership with the Auckland and Wellington City Councils.
“We're keen to build on the success of the 2008 festivals which were attended by over 150,000 people. It is free to attend and everyone is welcome to share this exciting Indian celebration,” said Asia New Zealand Foundation culture director Jennifer King.
This year the festivals will be held in Auckland on Saturday, October 10-11 at the Eastern Viaduct and Te Wero Island and in Wellington on Sunday October 18 at the TSB Arena on Queens Wharf.
The Diwali Festival of Lights gives the Indian communities the opportunity to share this much-loved cultural tradition with other New Zealanders and their families. The events celebrate not only the traditions of Diwali, but Indian culture as a whole.
Festival-goers can enjoy vegetarian Indian food available from dozens of mouth-watering foodstalls while watching non-stop performances including the popular Bollywood dance competition.
Ms King says the finishing touches are being put to this year’s Diwali programme and two of the highlights will be a Rajasthani puppet group and a Gujarati dance group, both from India.
The involvement of Gujarati performers from northwestern India will resonate with many in New Zealand’s Indian communities because it is from this part of India that many Indian New Zealanders can trace their family history.
Meanwhile the puppet group from the northern desert state of Rajasthan will also evoke Indian’s long and rich history. They are the descendents of the nomadic Bhatt people who for the past 1000 years have travelled from village to village presenting popular stories from the sacred Indian epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
This Rajasthani puppet group is one of the very few remaining groups of their kind in India and it is a special opportunity to have them in New Zealand to entertain crowds at this year’s Diwali Festivals, Ms King says.
The Asia New Zealand Foundation Diwali schools programme will also feature performances by the visiting Indian performers in both centres.