Wellington Diwali
spices up the capital

Captivating artists and performers from four states of India will entertain audiences at Wellington's 15th Diwali Festival of Lights at Labour Weekend.

Get a taste of Auckland Diwali, which was held over the weekend.

Organised by Wellington City Council in partnership with the Asia New Zealand Foundation, the festival runs from 1.30pm to 10pm on Sunday 23 October at TSB Arena, Queens Wharf.

Highlights of the festival include performances by Kathak dancer and Assamese film star Meghranjani Mehdi, and fun for kids with Rajasthani puppeteers.

The event also features demonstrations by paper cutter Parth Kathekar, from Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, and by artist Venkat Shyam, from Madhya Pradesh in central India, who is internationally renowned for his contemporary style of tribal Gond art.

Wellington-based performers representing a wide range of traditional and contemporary dance and music forms will also take to the stage - giving festival-goers an authentic and exciting taste of the diversity of Indian culture. Other festival highlights include mouth-watering vegetarian food, craft stalls, kids' activities and exhibitions - all leading up to the spectacular Cottrell Law fireworks display at the end of the night.

Festival-goers also have a chance to win two tickets to a destination in India with Singapore Airlines – by entering on the Asia New Zealand Foundation website in advance and attending the draw at Diwali at 8pm.

Asia New Zealand Foundation director culture Jennifer King says for the first time the Foundation is running a Diwali Activity Zone on Level One of TSB Arena, which includes interactive rangoli with local artist Jyoti Gosavi, paper-cut art demonstrations, Gond art colouring-in for kids, Rajasthani puppet shows and a stunning photographic exhibition by John Williams, “Pilgrimage”.

Diwali event producer Murali Kumar, of Communities Action Trust NZ (CATNZ), says there will be 18 diverse vegetarian food stalls and more than 20 retail stalls showcasing Indian arts, culture and fashion.

“This once-a-year big festival excites the performers, who have been working hard over the last few months preparing to showcase their talents to Wellington.”

Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival celebrating the triumph of light over darkness and the renewal of life. Families celebrate with gatherings, clay lamps, fireworks, sharing of sweets, and worship to Lakshmi - the goddess of love, wealth and prosperity. Diwali is now also celebrated by other faiths in India and in overseas Indian communities - including here in New Zealand.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation has been involved in public Diwali festivals in Wellington and Auckland since 2002, as part of its mission to increase New Zealanders' understanding of Asia. The Foundation is also taking the performers to several schools and organising public events for the artists, including Gond colouring-in activities for children with Venkat Shyam at Te Papa in the days leading up to the festival.

Asia New Zealand Foundation and Wellington City Council gratefully acknowledge the support of Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Silk Air, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Indian High Commission, Cottrell Law, Western Union, Wellington Community Trust, The Lion Foundation and 105.3FM.