The Indian community has a long standing history in New Zealand, with the first Indian migrants arriving in the late 1800s. Since then Indian Kiwis have become vital contributors to New Zealand’s social, cultural and economic fabric.
The ancient Hindu festival of Diwali festival kicks off in New Zealand this Saturday, 11th October with the Auckland Diwali Festival. Diwali (sometimes called Deepavali, translated as “row of lights”) holds different significance in different parts of India and around the world, but in general is a celebration of the triumph of light over darkness, wisdom over ignorance and the renewal of life.
During 2013 Diwali festival of lights, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi MP presented Prime Minister John Key and then Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins with specially designed NZ Post stamps, noting that “Diwali allows all New Zealanders to share in the colour and heritage of India and it’s fantastic to see so many diverse Kiwis embracing this celebration.”
Diwali is traditionally celebrated for five days, and takes place at the new moon on 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartik or Karthika (October/November). In the Northern Hemisphere this would mark the beginning of the winter season and is called the “darkest night of the year” so small candles and lamps are lit to brighten it. This year, the Five days of Diwali begin on Thursday 23 October 2014.
There are a number of Diwali celebrations being held around New Zealand, more information for most locations can be found at the Asia New Zealand Foundation website or on Eventfinda.
Another event worth celebrating is the announcement from Deloitte and APN Media last month of the Diversity Leader Award at the Deloitte Top 200 this year. Creating further momentum in this space, the Diversity Leader Award recognises organisations for their policies, programmes and values to enable greater diversity across their business.
“Diversity can be a powerful strategy for organisations that choose to use it for their competitive advantage. A greater focus on diversity by New Zealand’s most successful companies will spur economic growth and social change for our country,” said Deloitte chief executive Thomas Pippos.
If you’re curious and have the time, the fabulous Festival of lights this weekend is your chance to embrace cultural diversity and be a part of the most popular and awaited festival in India. It would be fantastic to hear from our partner organisations on how they are celebrating Diwali with their Hindu employees.