Wellington Diwali 2019, the biggest community event outside Auckland and the second biggest in New Zealand attracted more than 15,000 people to the event on Sunday, November 24.
Hosted at TSB Bank Arena and Shed 6, the event stadium flocked as soon as opened for public at 1:30 p.m. with men, women and children of different ethnicities, many of whom clad in ethnic Indian wear to enjoy the event.
The festivity of the day commenced with Bollywood dance numbers performed by school-going children which boosted the enthusiasm and energy inside the Arena.
A band of drummers and percussionists played the folk music leading the VIPs, guests and members of parliament to the stage for the official ceremony.
A priest from Wellington temple started the official event with the ceremonial lighting of the lamps by inviting the guests and chanted prayers officiating the event.
Present at the VIP ceremony were Minister of Finance Grant Robertson, Executive Director of Asia New Zealand Foundation Simon Draper, Labour MP Paul Eagle, High Commissioner of India Muktesh Pardeshi, National MPs Christopher Bishop, Nicola Willis, Wellington City Council Councillors Nicola Young, Jill Day, Iona Pannett, Fleur Fitzsimons and Doss Jeyakumar from Indian High Commission.
“In the last eight weeks, I have had the privilege of attending more than eight Diwali celebratory across New Zealand,” High Commissioner of India, Mr Muktesh Pardeshi said.
“It feels special that so many Diwali events are held here in New Zealand, at community organisations, temples, events like this and ATEED Diwali festival in Auckland,” Mr Pardeshi added.
The official ceremony was followed by an array of classical and folk Indian dance performances that showed the diversity of Indian classical music and dance and its rich history.
It was fascinating to witness a more significant presence of wider Wellingtonians, from different ethnic backgrounds who dressed to the occasion and came with their families in ethnic Indian wears.
“I could see so many Kiwi families at the event – more than I have ever seen in this event in the previous year who looked fascinated with the performances, some of whom even danced to the music from the stage,” a visitor at the event said.
“It was delightful to see that the event has been so successful in reaching out to the wider Kiwi community and not just Indians,” he added.
As the evening progressed, the Arena got busier with visitors who settled themselves on either side of the balcony on the first floor after filling the ground floor seating space.
A variety of Bollywood, hip-hop, folk and classical performances involving hundreds of talented dancers kept the audiences glued to the seats till the event ended around 9 p.m.
Several dancers from different parts of North Island, namely Auckland, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Hamilton travelled to Wellington to perform at the annual event.
One thing that stood out from other events was seeing the children dancing in front of the stage while performers dazzled different dance moves on the stage.
“It was so beautiful to see children as young as four years old imitating dance moves of the performers near the stage freely jumping and dancing while their parents sat witnessing them enjoy in the spectator seats behind them,” a visitor said.
The Wellington Hindi School organised a children’s activity at the venue engaging them in cultural activities and educating about Diwali and the Indian culture.
The Indian Weekender, the only ethnic media partner of the event, presented a cultural, folk and hip-hop mix dance performance. The performance was in collaboration with ‘Grandiose – The Creative Company’ from Auckland, the dancers who travelled to Wellington to enthral the audience.
“We presented the theme dance ‘Padharo Mare Des’ which was a fusion of folk, classical, and
As a tradition for all Indian events, Shed 6 housed a score of Indian delicacy stalls that served diverse and popular vegetarian Indian snacks and beverages for the visitors.
The biggest highlight of the day, besides the exhilarating dance performances, was the fireworks that went off lit the sky in colourful patterns at 9:05 p.m.
“We concluded the Diwali event with the much-awaited fireworks sponsored by Cottrell Law that was set from a boat on the sea as thousands of spectators witnessed the spectacle from the waterfront,” Murali Kumar, Event Producer for Wellington Diwali from CATNZ said.