Auckland Indian Association Inc. has been instrumental in bringing the biggest Garba-Navaratri celebrations in the country, the ten-day celebration that has the massive hall of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre chock a block with dancers.
The ten-day (evening) event has completed eight days of its celebrations as of Wednesday, October 17 and that has already attracted approximately 25,000 people so far. An average of 2000-2500 people have set their foot every evening, with weekends surpassing 3000 people, forcing the hosts to refuse entry after a particular time to avoid overcrowding in the interests of safety.
The celebrations start at just after 8 p.m. every day when community members dressed in their best ethnic outfits with their dandiya sticks come to the venue and join the entertainment. By 10 p.m. the hall is chock-full with enthusiastic community members, who have formed several circles, dancing alongside one another, continuously for hours straight.
At the centre of the hall lies the mini temple decorated in flowers, idols placed on all sides open and visible for the worshippers to offer their devotion and servings. The audience that includes children, men, women, young professionals, students, senior citizens- all formed their groups in the circles doing the garba.
To entertain the visitors for hours, a team of renowned musicians have been appointed who have travelled all the way from India for the ten-day special garba show and a few other shows during this Diwali season.
Brightly illuminated hall, floral decorations in every corner, the garba, so far is one of the best, most visited event of the year for the hosts who have been organising this evening for nearly two decades.
Adjacent to the main hall lies the kitchen and dining hall – that too remains busy for most of the evening. The kitchen dishing out popular Indian snacks, light refreshments and beverages serve the hunger of the dancers who take breaks from the garba.
“On weekends we ended the function just around 1 a.m. and that has also been the flow of the event on weekdays too,” Narendra Bhana, organiser of the event and president of Auckland Indian Association told The Indian Weekender.
“The volunteers make sure everything is in place so that the visitors have the best time with the families and friends at the event,” Mr Bhana added.
Witnessed dancing at the event on a random day were not just people from the Indian community but people from Fiji Indian community, Kiwis and some Chinese dance enthusiasts were seen dancing alongside. The event over the years has been successful to draw people from other communities and become an excellent multicultural platform.
The last two days of the event, Thursday, October 18 and Friday, October 19, is expected to receive more people to the event as it will end the Navaratri celebrations for this year.