Speaking at the launch of “Diwali at the Mall” at the North City Mall in Porirua, High Commissioner of India to New Zealand, Muktesh Pardeshi said the Diwali at the mall event was probably the first public celebration of Diwali for 2020 to be held anywhere in the world.

Coincidently, the ‘Diwali at the Mall’ event in Porirua coincided with the ‘Diwali Festival of Lights 2020’ event held at Hagley Park in Christchurch on Saturday, October 24.

Ekta NZ, a Wellington-based Indian community organisation, organised the event on October 24 and 25 during the Labour weekend and said the turnout and support that they received during the two days was overwhelming.

Leading the project, Sonam Srivastava said they had feared that due to the long weekend many people would be travelling to get away from the city, but not only the event had a huge turnout, it also had a racially mixed crowd.

Former Governor-General of New Zealand inaugurated the event, Sir Anand Satyanand along with the Indian High Commissioner, Porirua’s Mayor, the new MP for the area, the Director of the Office of Ethnic Communities, members of the Diplomatic corps and local community leaders. 

The guests at the event said that it was heartening to see the numbers of Indians in NZ grow and see them actively engaging in promoting their culture and traditions. Commending Ekta for its efforts, Sir Anand said the organisers had created an atmosphere of a Diwali Mela in the mall.

Making it an annual event

Mayor of Porirua, Anita Baker, congratulated Ekta and suggested ‘Diwali at the Mall’ be made an annual event in the city’s calendar.

“About making the event an annual thing, a similar sentiment was reflected by the new MP for Porirua, Barbara Edmonds who was greeted by a momentous applaud from the crowd. This was Ms Edmonds public engagement since being elected to office.

The largest Rangoli in Wellington 

One of the highlights of the event was the four sqm Rangoli done in front of the stage.

“We wanted the rangoli to be the wow factor, and we achieved it,” Foram Shah, another member of the organising team said.

The 4x4 sqm rangoli is the largest done in Wellington to date. It took seven hours for the organisers to put the rangoli together with 50 kgs of materials of different colours and to avoid any staining on the mall floor, the artist added an underlay.

Work on the rangoli started after the mall had closed at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 23 and completed at 2 a.m. the next morning.

“We hope others will follow us and do even larger ones and hopefully in sometime future, we could have rangoli making competitions,” Ms Shah added.

“We are supporting the Whenua Ukaipo Connectedness exhibition, which is being put together by our partner, co-existence. The open to the public exhibition will be held from October 31 to November 4 at the Public Trust office on Lambton Quay and will feature the works of two Indian artists, Tiffany Singh and Amardeep Shergill of Australia which” Abhishek Sharma, Ekta’s Project Coordinator said.

Mr Sharma added that Ekta also has its ongoing food distribution program.

“Saturday is our Seva day, and we give free food/groceries from four sites in the Wellington region from about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.”

Earlier this year, Ekta was recognised by the Indian High Commission at the Independence Day celebrations on August 15 for its community services during the first wave of Covid lockdown in the country.