The vivid sights, sounds and tastes of India are once again transforming city streets as New Zealand celebrates Diwali Festival of Lights with events in the four main cities.
Auckland’s iconic harbour bridge will light up with a Diwali light show inspired by the traditional Indian art form of rangoli. For four nights, the lights will operate from 7pm until midnight providing a spectacle of colour and form visible from many vantage points around the city.
The two biggest Diwali festivals take place in Auckland and Wellington, both supported by the Asia NZ Foundation and local city councils. Annual festivals have been held since 2002, and last year attracted more than 150,000 festival goers.
The festivals raise public awareness of traditional Indian culture, and acknowledge the contribution made by the country’s Indian communities during their long history in New Zealand.
Diwali Festival Auckland
20 - 21 October 2018
Auckland's annual two-day Diwali Festival, held in downtown Aotea Square, brings thousands of Aucklanders and visitors of all ages and ethnic backgrounds together to celebrate traditional and contemporary Indian culture.
Highlights include local and international dance, music and theatre performers, food and craft stalls, a wedding expo, seminars and workshops. The festival culminates in a spectacular fireworks display on Sunday night.
Direct from India, performers from the Kalehri Art & Culture Academy will present entertainment in range of styles including bhangra, gidha, jindua, malwai gidha and jhumar. As well as appearing at the Auckland Diwali Festival, the Kalehri Art & Culture Academy members will perform at the Wellington Diwali Festival and visit local schools.
In addition to the touring international performers, hundreds of local performers and performance groups take part in the Auckland Diwali Festival, collectively presenting a programme with more than 45 hours of live entertainment, across more than 240 different performances.
As well as showcasing and celebrating traditional and contemporary Indian dance and music, the Auckland Diwali Festival is also New Zealand’s largest vegetarian festival, with dozens of food stalls operating.
Diwali Festival Wellington
28 October 2018
Wellington’s one-day Diwali Festival takes place in the downtown waterfront precinct bringing together delicious Indian vegetarian food stalls, traditional and contemporary dance, music and fashion, arts, craft and henna stalls, and an exhibition on the Celebration of Lights, highlighting the significance of lamps and lanterns.
The programme includes eight hours of non-stop cultural entertainment from local, regional and international artists showcasing traditional, contemporary, folk, fusion and the much-loved Bollywood and Bhangra performances. The day finishes with a fireworks display in the evening.
Christchurch Diwali Indian Festival of Lights
3 & 4 November 2018
Christchurch’s Indian Social and Cultural Club has been celebrating Diwali - Indian festival of lights for 12 years, and the event now attracts thousands for people from the wider community.
The main programme is an entertaining evening with four hours of action-packed traditional, folk and Bollywood performances by local performers from different states of India. There are also food stalls selling authentic regional Indian food, and trade stalls selling Indian products.
About Diwali in New Zealand
The Asia New Zealand Foundation first held the Diwali festivals in 2002. They were set up to raise public awareness of traditional Indian culture, and acknowledge the contribution made by the country’s Indian communities during their long history in New Zealand.
In their first year, about 70,000 people attended the Diwali celebrations in Auckland and Wellington. In 2017, more than 150,000 visited the festivals.
The Auckland Diwali Festival was first held in 2002, initiated by the Asia New Zealand Foundation and delivered in partnership with the then-Auckland City Council (now Auckland Council).
The religious festival’s annual dates are decided by the lunar calendar. The Auckland Diwali Festival is timed to coincide with both the observance of Diwali and the Wellington Diwali Festival, with which it shares its founding partner, the Asia New Zealand Foundation, and visiting international performers.
The festival is inspired by Diwali or Deepavali (literally “row of lamps”), an important and ancient Indian festival colloquially known as The Festival of Lights. It is celebrated by people in India and Indians living abroad. Families light lamps, candles and fireworks to symbolise the triumph of light over darkness, wisdom over ignorance and good over evil.
Originally a Hindu festival, Diwali is also celebrated by non-Hindus. It's an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.
New Zealand is classed as one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, and New Zealand's Indian population at 155,000 (or 3.9% of the population) is among the five largest ethnic groups to call New Zealand home. There are around 90,000 people who identify as Hindu in New Zealand.