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Auckland celebrates India’s 75th Republic Day

The seventy-fifth anniversary of India becoming a republic (26 January 1950) was celebrated on Sunday, 28 January in Auckland. Hosted by the Auckland Indian diaspora group under the leadership of Auckland Indian Association and Bhartiya Samaj at the Mahatma Gandhi centre, the event was attended by hundreds of the Indian diaspora, leaders of diaspora organisations and Members of Parliament.

Proceedings began with flag hoisting and the singing of the national anthem. Puspa Lekinwala, Auckland Indian Association’s Vice President welcomed the audience. She thanked Indian High Commissioner Neeta Bhushan for her help in facilitating the visit of a group of traditional Rajasthani folk music and Kalbelia dance performers specially for the occasion under the aegis of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). Roopa Suchdev was the emcee of the event. 


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Hon. Consul of India in Auckland, Bhav Dhillon, outlined the history of Republic Day, paying rich tributes to the authors of the Constitution of India, particularly Dr Bhimrao (Babasaheb) Ambedkar. The Indian Constitution is still regarded as one of the most comprehensive and fair constitutions ever drafted and has served as a model for several nations that achieved independence after India. 

The Hon. Consul also elaborated on the recent announcement of a full-fledged consulate office in Auckland, which has now been approved by the Minister of External Affairs and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With the approval having come through, the announcement of a schedule for the opening of the new consular facility should not be long in coming. Mr Dhillon thanked diaspora leaders for coming together and working to put up the show for Republic Day.      

The main attraction of the morning was the Rajasthani performers. While the men in the group regaled the audience with their soulful, full-throated singing of traditional Rajasthani Mand folk songs to the accompaniment of dholaks, a harmonium and kartal (wooden castanets), the two women in the troupe performed a series of traditional Kalbelia dances. 

The women in flowing lehengas and colourful, mirrored angarkhis and odhanis had the audience transfixed with their fast-paced twirls and graceful movements with towering pots on their heads, while dancing with feet placed on the rim of a platter. The genre of Kalbelia dance and folk songs has been included in UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage List since 2010.

A rhythmic interlude with dholak and kartal elicited participation from the audience, clapping in unison with the rhythms in the ever-enjoyable sawaal-jawaab style. The troupe had earlier performed at the Indian High Commission’s auditorium in Wellington on 26 January.

Several other excellent local dance performances formed part of the morning’s repertoire. Dance guru Anuradha Ramkumar was honoured on the occasion following her conferment of the MNZM award in the New Year.

Narendra Bhana, President of the New Zealand Indian Central Association gave the vote of thanks and the Auckland Indian Association’s Catering Committee served a meal to the attendees. 

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