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DharmaFest - A Grand Celebration Of New Zealand's Dharmic Communities

Auckland witnessed the grand celebration of New Zealand’s diverse Dharmic communities with DharmaFest 2023 on Saturday, 9th September. Organised by Hindu Youth New Zealand (HYNZ), DharmaFest was an event to bring together New Zealand’s Dharma based groups, temples, and spiritual organisations to showcase the beautiful dimensions of New Zealand’s diverse Dharmic communities and celebrate Vibhinnatāyām Ekatvam - Unity in Diversity.

Following the tremendous community support and success of last year’s event, DharmaFest 2023 was organised at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre, Eden Terrace, Auckland. The event had an overwhelming turnout and was received positively by the community. The event commenced with the traditional welcoming of representatives from various Dharma groups followed by the lighting of the diya (lamp) to mark the auspicious beginning of DharmaFest.

Swami Atmananda Puri from the Hindu community, Shri Hemant Vora from the Jain community, Venerable Rewatha Thero from the Buddhist Community and Shri Gurpreet Singh from Sikh community each recited traditional prayers from their tradition and blessed the proceedings for the day. It was a momentous occasion for New Zealand, witnessing the assembly of leaders from a range of Dharma-based communities who were united in their commitment to enhance the well-being of New Zealand society.

New Zealand Buddhist Council, New Zealand Central Sikh Association, Hindu Council of New Zealand, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha NZ, ISKCON NZ, Art of Living Foundation, Chinmaya Mission New Zealand, Sri Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre NZ, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh New Zealand, Auckland Tamil Association, Amma New Zealand, Yoga in Daily Life, New Zealand Hindu Students Forum, KAILASA NZ, Brahma Kumaris NZ, Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur, Sri Lankaramaya Auckland, Ananda Marga, Health for Humanity – Yogathon and many more organisations participated in this grand event.

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Dharma-centered traditions, cultures, knowledge systems, and ways of life have found open arms around the globe. Notable instances include the practices of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Dharmic communities, whether they are focused on spirituality, culture, or service, have made significant contributions, benefiting not only their own ethnic groups but also enriching the broader society of New Zealand. These Dharmic communities have played a pivotal role in advancing the values of pluralism and fostering mutual respect for harmonious coexistence.

“This is the second year our youth team has run this event and we have been moved by the amazing support and encouragement by the organisations who participated, as well as the event goers,” said Murali Krishna Magesan, President, Hindu Youth New Zealand, and Coordinator of DharmaFest.

“There is a real excitement amongst the Dharmic communities, to engage with all New Zealanders, learn from each other and work towards building stronger communities together,” he added.

DharmaFest created a platform for everyone in New Zealand to interact with the Dharmic communities as well as each of the different organisations to unite, interact, and highlight their distinctive contributions to Aotearoa New Zealand. Every participating organisation had the chance to exhibit the rich facets of Dharmic culture and illustrate the diverse community's contributions to the broader New Zealand society.

The support from communities and seeing immense participation has reaffirmed the appreciation of organising such events. Community leaders extended their blessings and congratulations to the volunteers who not only transformed the vision of DharmaFest into reality but expanded on it. This year DharmaFest had parallel workshops offering various sessions ranging from Meditation and Yoga to Tai Chi and Ayurveda as well as a beautiful cultural program showcasing the art forms of different communities.

Seeing youth lead, drive and deliver such events served as another source of inspiration to all attendees.

“The leadership, organisation and execution displayed by the all-youth team gives confidence to us that the future of Dharmic communities in Aotearoa is in safe hands and has a bright, cohesive future,” commented one event participant.

This free event, open to the wider New Zealand public, provided an opportunity for all to explore a multitude of exhibitors and delve into the rich tapestry of ancient and diverse cultures, arts, crafts, yoga, meditation, and ayurveda. Event-goers had the opportunity to purchase clothing, jewellery and enjoy the amazing food at DharmaFest.

“Both the public and exhibitors have shared that they have thoroughly enjoyed the event and have indicated they look forward to coming back again next year” said Murali Krishna Magesan. “We will be reaching out to the interested organisations soon.”

Hindu Youth New Zealand is a youth-led organisation that helps in developing young leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand. Through capability and capacity building initiatives, such as national conferences, workshops, webinars, cultural events, and mentorship programmes, young people are supported to reach their potential and have an opportunity to contribute to the wider New Zealand society.

DharmaFest Organising Committee.

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