The Indian festival of colours, Holi, which is celebrated with great pomp and show all around the country, has finally reached New Zealand Parliament.
If a celebration in Parliament is an acknowledgement of NZ’s growing multiculturalism and rising numbers and the profile of the Kiwi-Indian community, then certainly this latest Holi celebration was able to make a statement.
The statement was subtle and persuasive that multiculturalism in NZ is on the rise and welcomed by all.
It is to the credit of this current government to further deepen collective acceptance of multiculturalism in our day to day lives.
However, a special appreciation and acknowledgement from the community are reserved for the Minister for Ethnic Communities, Jenny Salesa, and Kiwi-Indian MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan for taking the lead and facilitating Holi celebrations in parliament.
It is the role of Members of Parliament to advocate for community’s interests, expectation and aspirations within the government.
Ms Salesa, the long time electorate MP from Manukau East, which is probably Auckland’s one of the most diverse electorates, and where a large segment of Indian community resides, has always been warm and receptive to the aspirations of the Indian community.
The lead taken by her office in taking another popular Indian festival to the corridors of NZ Parliament is much appreciated.
Among all Indian festivals celebrated in the parliament, probably Holi would stand out for being a great equaliser of all perceived and real differences in terms of caste, gender, age and ethnic identities.
“People irrespective of caste, gender and age take to the streets, to throw coloured water and powder at one another. It is a great leveller,” Ms Salesa said
The role of first time Kiwi-Indian MP Ms Radhakrishnan deserves a special mention for facilitating the first ever Holi celebrations in the Parliament.
“I was proud to welcome representatives of our Indian communities to the Parliament, alongside the Prime Minister and the Ethnic Communities Minister,” Ms Radha Krishnan told The Indian Weekender.
“The fact that the Prime Minister attended, spoke and interacted with the guests at the event, is a clear indication that our Indian communities are held in high regard by this government,” Ms Radhakrishnan said.
The gesture of celebrating this festival in parliament was also noted and acknowledged by the Government of India.
Speaking to The Indian Weekender, the High Commissioner of India, Sanjiv Kohli, acknowledged and thanked the gesture of the people of this country.
“The celebration of Holi in parliament was not only recognition of the contribution made by the Indian diaspora in this country.
“It was also a demonstration of this country’s respect for ethnic diversity.
“For me, it was a moment of pride as an Indian, and an opportunity as the High Commissioner to thank this country and its people for their goodwill and gesture,” Mr Kohli said.
The celebrations of Holi in parliament also coincided with the eve of Race Relations Day – another global event that promotes equality, mutual respect, tolerance and peaceful coexistence within our societies.
Indeed, this week had more than one opportunity to appreciate and celebrate growing multiculturalism in New Zealand.