The New Zealand Punjabi Multimedia Trust has pioneered the first-ever Vaisakhi Gala Dinner in New Zealand hosted on Saturday, April 28 at The Event Centre in Manukau.

The ticketed gala dinner had members of the community, community leaders, performers and guests from different organisations and a world-renowned artist from Canada, Jarnail Singh, attending the event.

The purpose of the event was to host a formal evening observing one of the biggest and most important festivals of the Punjabi community ‘Vaisakhi’ and raise funds through the event to promote and spread the knowledge about Sikhism, and avenues that the community can benefit from.

The event began with the introduction of the guest Jarnail Singh followed by a presentation on the significance of the Vaisakhi festival for the Punjabi and the Sikh community.

Vaisakhi is also significant for the community as it is remembered as the day when the Jallianwala Bagh massacre took place in 1913, killing hundreds of peaceful protestors gathered at the garden on the auspicious day.

Following the same emotions, the gathering at the event rose and observed a minute’s silence for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attack and the terror attack in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday earlier in April.

“We have gathered here not just to celebrate a formal Vaisakhi event, but also get feedbacks and contribution from our community members to know what we can do from our end to spread peace and brotherhood amongst different communities,” Navtej Randhawa from NZ Punjabi Multimedia Trust said at the event.

“The funds we gather here today will be used for creating a knowledge base about Sikh religion, its teachings and value through stories, videos, posters and we post them on social media to create more awareness about our community,” Mr Randhawa added.

Following a number of Bhangra, solo singing and poetry performances- a number of community leaders were acknowledged and felicitated at the event for their contribution towards different community projects. Some of the speakers applauded the idea and the work that is planned by the Multimedia Trust in spreading more awareness about the Sikh community.

The visitors eagerly waited to hear from the chief guest, artist Jarnail Singh, who thanked the organisers and expressed his joy being a part of the first-ever Vaisakhi gala dinner in New Zealand.

In the Q&A session with Jarnail Singh, he mentioned about his work and inspiration that has given him a global recognition not just in Canada or India, but also beyond the Punjabi-Indian diaspora across the globe.

Mr Singh is not just a painter but also a calligrapher, journalist, photographer and an ardent writer of Sikh art and history. His works have been exhibited in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, India, Europe, Africa, Germany, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. He is also the recipient of several recognitions and awards across different nations for his work and contribution to the Sikh community.

Following the success of the gala dinner that had approximately 200 people attending, NZ Punjabi Multimedia Trust plans to organise a bigger formal dinner event in 2020.