Food, Entertainment and Fireworks mark Waitakere Diwali

Sunil Kaushal

Auckland, October 9, 2017

The Waitakere Indian Association hosted its 17th Annual Deepavali Festival at the Trusts Arena, Henderson, Sunday, October 1, 2017 from 1 pm till 10 pm, culminating in a spectacular display of fireworks.

The unpredictable weather did not stop a large number of visitors to the Diwali Fair, which has earned the reputation of being one of the most anticipated events of the Indian Kiwi community’s annual list of attractions.

“The turnout was phenomenal,” said Mahendra Sharma, President of WIA.

The organisers said that an estimated that more than 8500 people visited the event and enjoyed the festivities throughout the day despite rain, hail and storm.

The event was attended by a wide array of people from different walks of life, age groups and backgrounds and coming from various parts of Auckland.

Dignitaries Galore

Amongst the attendees were Chief Guest Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, Members of Parliament Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Melissa Lee, Alfred Ngaro (National), Phil Twyford, Carmel Sepuloni, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Deborah Russell (Labour) Auckland Councillor Penny Hulse, Henderson-Massey Local board chair Shane Henderson and Deputy Chair Peter Chan, Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy, Waitemata District Police Commander Superintendent Tusha Penny, Radio Tarana Chief Executive Robert Khan, Indian Newslink Editor Venkat Raman, Trustee of Waitakere Indian Association, Penny Cusack from Best Pacific Institute of Education and many more.

Shane Henderson, Chair of the local Henderson-Massey Board, praised the organisers for an imaginative allocation of booths.

He said that the segregation of food court resulted in a lot of convenience to visitors and led to decongestion of the main mela area.

Similarly, segregating the Corporate and the retail business booths and setting up of two stages for performers made it very convenient for visitors to move around with ease and do the shopping.

Festival essence

Deepavali, meaning ‘A row of lamps’ is also popularly known as Diwali, or ‘Festival of Lights’. It signifies the triumph of ‘Good over Evil.’

Waitakere Indian Association attempts to bridge the gap in the community with events as Deepavali and brings the community together. The festival was a full day celebration with numerous corporate booths, Rangoli, food and clothing vendors, performances and activities for the entire family including a live grand and spectacular display of fireworks.

WIA Secretary Junita Sen said, “This was a special year, as we have been innovative and although the Festival caters to all ages; children, youth, middle aged and the seniors, the emphasis has been shifted more towards a holistic approach, rather than just your normal Bollywood mainstream. Items like Ram Leela and Indian/Western fusions have all engaged the visitors of all ages.”

The Entertainers

“SoulDhun” group was brought in, who rocked the stage with his performance and attracted a lot of young crowd and thrilled them. Also, famous Nach da Punjab which has been an attraction for the past couple of years finished the festivities before the fireworks.

Ella Kumar involved everyone in a participatory dance during the day.

“WIA goal to incorporate more young adults into the mainstream activities of the community was accomplished,” Junita said.

Mahendra Sharma went ecstatic over the authentic Indian cuisine, a holistic Health Fair, unforgettable performances by local performing arts schools, in addition to a splendour showcase of Indian culture, arts, crafts, jewellery, traditional clothes.

Speaking about the cooperation WIA received from corporate and non-corporate sectors, Sharma said, “Corporate Sponsors such as Best Pacific Institute, Radio Tarana, Tulip Financial Services, RVS Home Ventilation and many more were present. Our partnership with these corporates and with the local Henderson-Massey Local board is deepening as we aim to reach the Indian and non-Indian community out west.”

Radio Tarana did the live broadcast of the programme from the venue throughout the day. Print media, too, was extremely helpful in projecting the memorable event.

Indian Newslink was particularly supportive in running stories pre- and post-event.

The evening was indeed a memorable one for all.

Grand Finale

The grand finale of the festival was the display of live Fireworks dazzling the West Auckland skyline over the Trusts Arena, enthralling thousands of onlookers.

Mr Goff was asked about the arrangements at the Diwali Mela.

He said that he was happy that all arrangements were meticulously planned and visitors turned up in large numbers.

WIA is a not-for-profit organisation of Indians from across the world, was founded in 2000. It is the organisation of Indian immigrants in West Auckland.

WIA represents the hopes and aspirations of those immigrants who are united by their common bond of Indian Heritage and Kiwi Community.

You can follow Waitakere Indian Association on Facebook www.facebook.com/waitakereindianassociation

Sunil Kaushal is Vice President of Waitakere Indian Association.

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Photo Caption: Auckland Mayor Phil Goff with other dignitaries and officials at WIA Diwali 2017.

(Picture supplied)

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