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Auckland Diwali Festival lights up the region

The colours of Diwali extend well beyond Aotea Square for the 2019 festival

SUMMARY

• Vector Lights brings the colours of Diwali to the Auckland Harbour Bridge to mark the 17th Auckland Diwali Festival

• Auckland Diwali Festival is in Aotea Square and Queen St, Saturday, 20 and Sunday, 21 October.

• Pre-festival activities and a rangoli art competition take place at Ellen Melville Centre, Freyberg Place, onFriday, 19 October, the day before the festival proper starts in Aotea Square

• Full details available atwww.aucklandnz.com/diwali.

The vivid colours of Diwali take over the heart of Auckland this month, ahead of the 17th Auckland Diwali Festival.

The free, family-friendly festival takes place in Aotea Square and Queen St on Saturday, 20 and Sunday, 21 October, from midday until 9pm each day, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display on Sunday night.

Before and during the festival, Vector Lights brings a light show inspired by traditional art form of rangoli to Auckland Harbour Bridge from Thursday, 18 October to Sunday, 21 October. The lights will operate from 7pm until midnight each evening.

Rangoli is a centuries-old Indian art form, where designs are drawn onto the ground, traditionally using coloured powders and embellished with sand, rice, candles or flower petals. The designs can be simple geometric shapes, depict deities or flowers or they can be more elaborate. They are closely associated with special occasions and celebrations.

“Diwali is also known as the festival of lights and we want to expand this element the Auckland Diwali Festival,” says festival producer Leilana Meredith. “It’s exciting to have Vector Lights bringing a new facet to the festival for 2018, with the light show on Auckland Harbour Bridge taking its cue from the beautiful colours and designs of rangoli.”

Vector spokesperson Elissa Downey says, “Vector Lights is fast becoming a much-loved cultural asset for Aucklanders and we can’t wait to see how Auckland Diwali Festival goers will respond to the rangoli-inspired show we have in store for them. As always, we encourage everyone watching the show to share their pictures and videos far and wide on their social media platforms, so we can show the rest of New Zealand and the world how we celebrate Diwali in style right here in Tāmaki Makaurau!”

On Friday, 19 October, workers, shoppers and visitors to the city centre can get a taste of the festival with the Chalk It Up rangoli-drawing competition in Freyberg Place and free, all ages Diwali-themed activities in Ellen Melville Centre.

Inside Ellen Melville Centre, visitors can have a go at DIY henna or mehndi, learn how to wrap or drape a sari, creating rangoli patterns to take home and play interactive digital Hindi language games. There will also be snacks to sample – sweet mithai treats and savoury namkeen nibbles.

The festival proper kicks off on Saturday, 20 October with mix of performances, from Bollywood to Punjabi, Gujarati to Bharat Natyam, Rajasthani to Hindustani and more, across three areas – the Aotea Square Stage, the Queen St Stage and the Street Zone performances (corner of Queen and Wakefield).

Direct from India, performers from the Kalehri Art & Culture Academy will present entertainment in range of styles including bhangra, gidha, jindua, malwai gidha and jhumar. As well as appearing at the Auckland Diwali Festival, the Kalehri Art & Culture Academy members will perform at the Wellington Diwali Festival and visit local schools.

In addition to the touring international performers, hundreds of local performers and performance groups take part in the Auckland Diwali Festival, collectively presenting a programme with more than 45 hours of live entertainment, across more than 240 different performances.

As well as showcasing and celebrating traditional and contemporary Indian dance and music, the Auckland Diwali Festival is also New Zealand’s largest vegetarian festival, with dozens of food stalls operating.

Come enjoy the colours, flavours, sights and sounds of New Zealand’s premier Indian cultural festival that that offers traditional tastes and flavours and the best modern fusion of India and 21st century Auckland.

• Vector Lights: For suggestions of viewing points, see vector.co.nz/lights. Bring a mobile device and speaker with you – the website also features a dedicated audio stream synced to the light show. The show is also live-streamed online at the website and the Vector Facebook page. Share your experience on Instagram and Twitter with #vectorlights and #diwaliAKL18.

• Auckland Diwali Festival is one of the region’s most popular cultural festivals, with 55,000 people attending the 2017 festival. It is delivered Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), on behalf of Auckland Council, in conjunction with founding partner Asia New Zealand Foundation.

NOTES TO EDITOR

• The Auckland festival is inspired by Diwali or Deepavali (literally “row of lamps”), an important and ancient Indian festival colloquially known as The Festival of Lights. It 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.

• Originally a Hindu festival, Diwali is also celebrated by non-Hindus. 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 Lakshmi, 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.

• The Auckland Diwali Festival was first held in 2002, initiated by the Asia New Zealand Foundation and delivered in partnership with the then-Auckland City Council (now Auckland Council). It was 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.

• The religious festival’s annual dates are decided by the lunar calendar. The Auckland Diwali Festival is timed to coincide with both the observance of Diwali and the Wellington Diwali Festival, with which it shares its founding partner, the Asia New Zealand Foundation, and visiting international performers.

• Vector Lights is part of a smart energy partnership between New Zealand-based energy company Vector and Auckland Council.

• Ellen Melville Centre is located at 2 Freyberg Place, corner High St and Freyberg Place, central Auckland. This community hub has five hire spaces, lots of classes, programmes and events, many free to attend. See www.facebook.com/EllenMelvilleCentre for more information.

ends

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