The Auckland Diwali Festival 2019 hosted in the heart of Auckland CBD, Aotea Square-Queen Street was another landmark event for this ethnically diverse city.
Be it food, colours, decorations, entertainment, lighting, fun activity or music- everything was a top-notch display of the Indian festival of Diwali, that signifies the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance.
Tens of thousands of people clad in ethnic Indian dresses, as well as smart casuals, thronged the venue comprising three sections of the CBD: the Aotea Square Stage, the Queen Street Stage and the Street Zone Performance area adjacent to the massive 40+ food stalls on Queen Street, parallel to Q Theatre.
The event started with the official ceremony at noon with the drummers from Kerala called Rhythm 345, leading the dignitaries to the stage.
Attending the official ceremony were Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges, the High Commissioner of India in Wellington Muktesh Pardeshi, attending his first Diwali celebrations in New Zealand, re-elected Mayor of Auckland, Phil Goff, Hon Consul of India in New Zealand Bhav Dhillon, Managing Director of Harcourts Bryan Thompson and Simon Draper, the CEO of Asia New Zealand Foundation.
As is the tradition, the event commenced with the prayer ceremony by Pandit Devrambhai Raval who blessed the event followed by speeches by the dignitaries present on stage.
The festivities then continued with over 200 performances lined up across two days of the event. The entertainment quotient of the event, on Aotea Square Stage alone, had classical Indian dances, Indian folk dances, live music and band performances, Bollywood hip-hop and traditional dances etc.
The Queen Street stage had its own classical Indian music show with over 25 dance, instrumental and live performances that mesmerised its own set of audience.
The Street Zone, a circled area on Queen Street, had another set of performers who entertained the attendees passing by and some glued to the street for the dance show.
Canopy of Colours: Up toward the grass terrace next to the live screen opposite the Aotea Square Stage was the Canopy of Colours, a section where Diwali colour themed ribbons lay hung from the ceiling with lights installed to bring the beauty of Diwali colours in the area. This section was a high-traffic zone for the enthusiastic festivalgoers who are always ready for a selfie or a group photo.
Mokaa Exhibition: Inside the Aotea Centre was an exhibition on the 125 years of Indians living in New Zealand that was too a popular spot for history lovers.
Retail, Henna and Indian Crafts stall:Just adjacent to the Queen Street stage was the range of stalls that housed Henna, Indian crafts and clothing, jewellery,
Food Stalls: One of the most dynamic spaces that were packed from noon to the moon was the 40+ food stalls queued on Queen Street just falling short near Mayor Drive intersection. The delicacies at those stalls included food and snacks from almost every corner of India such as Idly, Vada, Chhole Bhature, Samosa, Mango Lassi, Indian Masala Tea, Pineapple shake, Jalebi, Makkeki Roti, Saag, Paneer, Dhokla etc.
Fireworks: Day 2 of the event, Sunday evening, was a high-octane time with loud music and a sea of attendees standing for the show from one corner of Aotea Centre to the staircases touching Queen Street, and till the south end of the venue ending on the grass terrace. While the audience raised their mobile flashes, a sea of white lights waved near Aotea Square: the countdown started for the much-awaited fireworks that were complemented with trance music- which went on for 15 minutes lighting the sky to an array of vibrant colours flashed by the fireworks from the Q Theatre terrace.
Firework lights the sky at Auckland Diwali Festival 2019
(All Photos supplied by ATEED)