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Spice up your life at Auckland Diwali Festival

Spice up your life at Auckland Diwali Festival

The heart of Auckland will be filled with the sights, sounds and tastes of Indian culture on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 October, when the Auckland Diwali Festival returns for its 14th year.

The festival will take over Aotea Square, Aotea Centre and Queen St (between Wellesley St and Mayoral Drive) from noon to 9pm each day for one of Auckland biggest cultural festivals, which showcases traditional and contemporary Indian culture through music, dance, theatre, art and food.

The free, family-friendly festival also features children’s workshops, where they can learn to create colourful rangoli designs and listen to storytelling. For everyone, there are music workshops, a speaker series and the return of the Indian wedding expo in the Aotea Centre, after last year’s enthusiastic response.

This year’s international performers include master puppeteer Mahipat Kavi, who will bring some of India’s favourite stories to life, and Mudra Creation, a Lavani dance group from Maharashtra State. The performers are visiting with the support of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

The Auckland Diwali Festival is organised by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) in partnership with the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

ATEED Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says Auckland is shaped by its diverse mix of people and traditions.

“Indian Aucklanders and international students are a significant part of Auckland’s diverse population and the Auckland Diwali Festival is a welcome opportunity to celebrate and connect with our local Indian communities, in a unique blend of traditional Indian culture and contemporary New Zealand Indian culture.”

“For many Aucklanders of all backgrounds, it has become an unmissable annual event. The popularity of the festival continues to grow – about 35,000 people come along every year, we have increased the number of stalls to meet demand, and our performer applications were up 83 per cent on last year.”

The Auckland Diwali Festival, which was started in 2002 by the Asia New Zealand Foundation in conjunction with the then-Auckland City Council, is inspired by the ancient, traditional festival of Diwali or Deepavali, known as the ‘festival of lights’.

Asia New Zealand Foundation Chairman John Luxton says the Auckland Diwali Festival is an opportunity for all Aucklanders to come together and share a much-loved, family-oriented cultural tradition.

“Diwali was celebrated privately in New Zealand homes for decades – with families lighting small oil lamps and candles around their homes to signify the triumph of light over darkness. Since the foundation initiated the first festival in 2002, it has grown in size and diversity, and been embraced by Aucklanders of all backgrounds as a chance to share a much-loved and joyous cultural tradition.”

Highlights of the Auckland Diwali Festival include stunning onstage and street performances from more than 100 national and international performance groups, 64 food and craft stalls, the Indian Weekender Kiwi Indian Thought Series, the Radio Tarana Bollywood Dance competition and the Barfoot & Thompson Fireworks Finale on Sunday night.

Check out aucklandnz.com/diwali for more details. A detailed festival programme and map will be available closer to the festival date.

The sponsors and supporters of Auckland Diwali Festival are Barfoot & Thompson, ASB, Air New Zealand, Mithai, India Tourism Sydney (Incredible India), Radio Tarana, Indian Weekender, iHeartRadio, Stuff.co.nz, The Better Drinks Company, NTEC Tertiary Group, Mahindra Cars and Vodafone.

The Auckland Diwali Festival was delivered by Auckland City Council/Auckland Council from 2002 until 2011. It is now delivered by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) in partnership with Asia New Zealand Foundation.

In the 2013 census, more than 106,000 people living in Auckland identified themselves as of Indian ethnicity.


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