The event was organised on Saturday by the Christchurch Fiji Association or CFCESSA, and was attended by more than 500 people. It was the fifteenth year running that the Association has organised Diwali celebrations in Christchurch, which after a humble beginning has grown over time.

The highlights of the event were Haka performances by the Lalita Group and best-dressed awards given at the end of the four-hour-long celebrations. In all, there were over 35 performances with 65 participants, with members of Chinese, Russian, Ukrainian and Filipino communities also participating, indicating the growing multicultural nature of the Garden City. 

Jagat Singh, President of CFCESSA, in his message to the gathering traced the Fiji connection to India. “We are from the Fiji Islands; a multiracial and multicultural country. Yet each one of us – thousands of miles away from our mother country India, from where our ancestors came – have maintained our own identity by preserving and fostering our language, culture, traditions and religion.”

The gathering also remembered Swami Dayanand Saraswati – the great Indian reformer – who was poisoned on this very day as per the Hindu calendar in 1883. “This was probably in retaliation to Swami’s life work of fighting against superstitious beliefs and unnecessary customs. So whether you look at Lord Rama’s life or Swamiji’s work, Diwali’s spiritual message is to drive out the evil within us and light the lamp of knowledge,” Mr Singh had earlier told The Indian Weekender.

Vinesh Prakash, Secretary of CFCESSA, who was grateful for the support from the community added, “This year we had more than usual response, which motivates us to do even better next year.” Mr Prakash’s son Vivek also performed multiple items at the celebrations under his dance group, Inner Jalsa, and the grand finale of the event was a special dance melody performed by the dance group Bollywood Dynamite. 

Upcoming Diwali celebrations in Christchurch

Oct 14 – Canterbury TISI Sangam’s 2017 Diwali Show at Shirley Intermediate School from 6.30pm

Oct 21 – Indian Social and Cultural Club’s Diwali – the festival of lights, at Horncastle Arena from 2pm

Oct 28 – Canterbury Social and Cultural Group’s Diwali Cultural Show at Shirley Intermediate School from 6.30pm