Auckland’s iconic War Museum lit up in tricolour on Thursday, August 15, to mark India’s 73rd Independence Day celebrations – a gesture overwhelmingly appreciated by the entire Kiwi-Indian community.

The Indian Weekender had partnered with radio partner Humm FM and the support of the Consulate of India in putting up a small event in the porch just outside the War Museum for the members of the public to come and join everyone in celebrating the momentous occasion.

The dignitaries present on occasion were Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff, Hon Consul of India Bhav Dhillon, Labour MPs Michael Wood, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Deborah Russell, and National List MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, and Dan Bidois.

The event began with the Indian national anthem with volunteers from the crowd who came forward to hold and wave Indian national flags, in the background.

Welcoming everyone the Hon Consul of India Bhav Dhillon said, “we are glad to have a such an amazing crowd who are braving the chilly breeze of this evening to celebrate India’s Independence Day.”

Mayor of Auckland Phil Goff quoted Mahatma Gandhi and acknowledged Indian civilisation’s great antiquity of more than 5000 years..

The crowd erupted in chants of ‘High Sir’ when Auckland Mayor was asked the emcee impromptu to make the much popular bollywood movie dialogue “Hows the Josh”.

When mayor said he needs to see more Bollywood films, the crowd cheered and appluaded.

Similar sentiments echoed when Labour MP for Mt Roskill and Chief Government Whip Michael Wood asked the same with the crowd and mentioned his happiness for being a part of one of the most popular patriotic and cultural event of the Kiwi-Indian community.

Labour List MP Priyanca Radhakrishnan addressed the audience expressing her pride celebrating her Indian heritage and congratulated the community present for the event.

List MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi mentioned the struggle of the freedom fighters who dedicated their lives for the independence India enjoys today and said events like these were an ode to the martyrs of Indian national  movement.

The cultural performances lined up added an extra flavour to the celebrations with the tricolour-bathed museum building providing an alluring backdrop.

The cultural performance started with the Auckland based dance ground Bhangra Fit who with their Punjabi bhangra that elevated the spirit of the evening.

This performance was followed by a surprise element of a Bollywood singer who is in Auckland for a concert last week brought by Pal Productions.

Singer Master Saleem ‘Maa Da Ladla’ and ‘Dil Da Mamla’ fame from Bollywood blockbusters Dostana and Heyy Babyy and many more sneaked from the backdrop into the stage, leaving the audience awestruck.

Master Saleem on public demand sang five songs and left the audience raving about his impromptu performance. Master Saleem was also felicitated with a plaque from Mayor Phil Goff at the event.

The cultural element of the event continued with a live table fusion performance by Raag Time comprising of Jazz Pianist Ben Fernandez and Tabla Maestro, Manjit Singh and singer Amrita Bhende.

Children from Gujarati Samaj then took on to the stage for a final performance that enthralled the audience.

After the cultural performance ended, the DJ from Humm FM played Bollywood party hits which opened the dance floor for the visitors. Besides dancing and cheering at the performances, people also enjoyed the snacks and beverages at the event.

The grand success of the event besides tricolour lit venue, dignitaries and surprise star presence was the enthusiasm of the attendees to engage actively in patriotic chants and applauding the amazing performances of the stars who took snaps and selfies with a 20-foot Indian flag waving at in front of the museum.