India’s 72nd Independence Day celebrations in Auckland will bring a new dawn in the history of the Indian diaspora in New Zealand with major community organisations coming together to host one joint, mega celebratory event – a long held aspiration of many in the community.

In a historic first, all major community organisations, with a longstanding and proud history of celebrating India’s Independence Day individually, have agreed to join hands with other fellow community organisations and gather together for one mega celebration on Sunday, August 12, at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre.

The event will start at 10.30 a.m. with flag hoisting followed by an array of cultural performances by younger and senior members of the Indian community showcasing the rich Indian heritage.

This was announced by representatives of all major community organisations, including the Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust, New Zealand Indian Central Association, Auckland Indian Association, Auckland Malayali Samajam, Auckland Tamil Association, New Zealand Telugu Association, Telangana Association New Zealand, Telangana Jagruthi New Zealand, Gujarati Samaj New Zealand and Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust, who gathered together at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre on Sunday, July 29, to make the announcement and start preparations of the joint event.

The Hon. Consul of India, Bhav Dhillon, also joined the community representatives to extend support and acknowledge this emergent trend of consolidation around key festivals of the Indian diaspora.

Emerging trend from individualism to collective celebrations

While it is likely that there would still be a few other individual Independence Day events in the city, there is no denying the fact that the collective will of almost all major community organisations has manifested in this emergence of a new trend of Indian diaspora coming together for one significant celebration instead of having multitude of events all around the Auckland Super City.

The collective longing for one joint Independence Day celebration in Auckland’s diverse Indian community goes back at least couple of decades, if not more, especially when the size of Indian diaspora started growing with the change of Immigration system in New Zealand allowing people from all around the world regardless of their ethnicities or countries of origin. 

This longing has subtly grown in recent years with the proliferation of a number of events for the Independence Day celebrations, compelling many to secretly crave for one combined celebration, so that they do not have to divide their patriotic sentiments and instead focus and ‘unload’ them all at one joint celebration.

Preparatory work by the office of Indian High Commission

This issue was earlier raised and discussed in March 2018 when the High Commissioner of India, Sanjiv Kohli, met with the representatives of community organisations and ethnic media at the office of the Consulate of India.

The Indian Weekender had then reported that the High Commissioner discussed and received feedback from the community leaders about merits of organising some major community events in this year.

A few ideas were proposed and delved into, and the High Commissioner had assured that their office would soon be taking decisions on these matters and announcing publically. (Read the full story here).

It is clear that High Commissioner Mr Kohli has delivered on the early indications he gave in March meeting with Indian media and community organisations.

Speaking to The Indian Weekender about this recent announcement on coming together of all community organisations for one joint Independence Day celebrations, Mr Kohli said, “I am delighted to note that the diaspora is getting together to jointly celebrate this historic and special day. I am looking forward to be a part of this celebration.”

A sense of joy prevails

Expressing the joy over this new development, Jeet Suchdev of Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust said, “This is a historic moment for our Indian diaspora in New Zealand and we have been waiting for many years to have one collective Independence Day celebrations.”

This sentiment was reflected by representatives of all community organisations: Harshad Patel, Prakash Biradar, Narendra Bhana, Vai Ravindran, Aruna Bhoomapelly, Kalyan Kasuganti, Sitharam Bhoompelly, Blessan Jose, Nilima Venkat, Murali Kumar, Narendra Bhana, Suneel Kuncha, Roopa Sachdev, Ella Kumar, Aruna Jyothi Mallikarjun Reddy and many more who spoke with The Indian Weekender on the occasion.

“We have been celebrating this occasion for many years as individual associations.

“This time we are going to celebrate it collectively together.

It is a dream coming true.

We are confident that we all be able to carry this on for many years to come,” Harshad Patel, a prominent community leader said.

“I have been observing Independence Day celebrations in NZ for over sixty years and seen it in various forms.

“But this year is going to be special for the great development that the entire Indian diaspora in the Auckland region is coming together to celebrate at one place,” Bhiku Bhana, President, NZICA said.

However, the sentiments around this new emergent trend from individual celebrations to one collective celebration were best encapsulated by Hon. Consul Bhav Dhillon who said, “The size of our diaspora has grown here in the past few years.

“We have a lot of community organisations, which is a very healthy thing as we come from a country which has a number of states, languages, cultures and diversity.

“We need to celebrate each and every state, region, language, and culture, individually.

“But we also need to showcase our unity in diversity, and we can do that by coming together on at least one festival of national importance.

“This year I would like to congratulate all community organisations who have come together to celebrate Independence Day together.”