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Small businesses showcased at DharmaFest 2023

Stall at DharmaFest. Image: Supplied.

This year’s DharmaFest organised by Hindu Youth New Zealand featured more mum-and-dad businesses. The spiritual event is a platform for various dharmic communities to interact and showcase their distinct contributions to New Zealand. 

Along with various workshops on cultural practices, the event also featured small businesses. 

“We wanted to target smaller businesses. Of course, we could’ve got our bigger clothing stores and jewellery stores, but we wanted to give more of our mum-and-dad and smaller businesses an opportunity to find their feet and establish themselves,” says Murali Magesan, President of Hindu Youth New Zealand and coordinator for DharmaFest. 

“Our food stalls, our clothing stalls…that participated this year, it was the home and family businesses that were welcomed to participate. That’s another thing we want to look at, as well, supporting our business community to grow.” 

Accessibility for small businesses has also been one of the agendas of the event. “For all our dharmic organisations, we’ve given stalls for free. For some of our commercial businesses this year, we asked for $100…for setting up a stall,” says Magesan.

The event also included non-Indian cultural organisations from different ethnicities and nationalities. 

“Even in the first DharmaFest, we had people coming from the Asian community, Sri Lankan community, Malaysian [community]...this year, we had representatives from the New Zealand Buddhist Council, we had people who were selling ayurveda, they were of Chinese heritage…every year we’ve had it so far, the diversity has been increasing,” he says. 

Magesan hopes the contribution of these communities to New Zealand society is recognised by the people as well. 

“A lot of these organisations during Covid, for example, were giving away tons of food, medical equipment, any kind of services to the elderly…this platform gives these dharmic communities an opportunity to come together, and for New Zealand to recognise their contributions to New Zealand,” he says.

This year’s iteration of DharmaFest was held on September 9 at Mahatma Gandhi Centre. Communities and organisations that were involved this year included the New Zealand Buddhist Council, New Zealand Central Sikh Association, Hindu Council of New Zealand, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha NZ, ISKCON NZ, Art of Living Foundation and Chinmaya Mission New Zealand among others.

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