In a radiant burst of colours, traditions, and unity, Indian community organisation Bhabna NZ painted the town with cultural vibrancy during its 21st annual Kali puja and Deepavali celebration.

The Mount Roskill War Memorial Hall event was a dazzling display of Bengali flair and drew nearly 450 enthusiasts, including presidents and secretaries from other community organisations across Auckland.

“The spirit of Kali puja is all about creating a home away from home, bringing our community together in a symphony of shared experiences,” said Samrat Banik,

President of Bhabna NZ, embodying the essence of the cultural fiesta.

The celebration on November 11 witnessed Auckland’s Bengali diaspora converging to pay homage to the fierce yet benevolent Goddess Kali. Amidst the awe-inspiring fireworks that set the night sky ablaze, attendees were seen savouring traditional Bengali dishes.

“We meticulously adhere to the age-old traditions and rituals straight from the vibrant streets of Kolkata, ensuring our community members get a nostalgic taste of home. It’s a celebration of our identity, and witnessing the community grow each year is nothing short of heartening,” added Banik, emphasising Bhabna NZ’s commitment to preserving cultural authenticity.

Social media echoed positivity as first time attendees shared their overwhelming joy at experiencing a traditional Kali puja on foreign shores. “Attending the Kali puja feels like a journey back home. The traditions, the rituals–it’s all so authentic, bringing a wave of nostalgia,” one participant, Soumya Mukerji, shared.

These cultural extravaganzas are pivotal in bridging the gap for Indian community members grappling with homesickness abroad. Another attendee, Debosmita Das, said, “These gatherings become a source of joy for those separated from their families, knitting together the diverse Indian diaspora in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The event serves as a cultural bridge for our younger generations, instilling a sense of awareness and connection to their roots.”

Banik also revealed that many participants reportedly go to great lengths, even postponing overseas trips, to participate in this event.

“The joy and happiness this event brings to our community is unparalleled. It’s a rare opportunity for Auckland residents to come together, forging connections that last beyond the event itself.”

Bhabna NZ, which was launched in 2002, successfully performed its annual cultural show ‘Sob Akasher Robi’ on September 9 this year. It was based on the inevitable influence of the legendary Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, especially in Bollywood and across the globe. The show also captured the work of lyricist Gulzar on Tagore’s songs and poetry.