Papatoetoe Deepavali Festival of Lights
Diwali, also known as Deepavali (literally “a row of lamps”), is perhaps the most important and ancient of the Indian festivals.
It is also known as “The Festival of Lights”, and families light small oil lamps (diyas) and candles around the home and set off firecrackers and fireworks.
Indian diya or clay lamps
Diya (or deepa or divaa) are typically made from clay
Traditionally, Diwali is celebrated for five days, and takes place at the new moon on 15th day of the Hindu month of Kartik or Karthika (October/November). This is at the beginning of the winter season and is called the “darkest night of the year”, so lamps are lit to brighten this moonless night.
Originally a Hindu festival, Diwali is also celebrated by most other ethnic groups with the Hindus. It’s an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji. Residents of other Countries also take holidays for the celebration of the religious festival.
Diwali signifies different things in different areas of India. For example, in Gujarat, the festival honours Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. In north India, it celebrates the god Rama’s homecoming to the kingdom of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile. To light his way and rejoice at his return, the people of Ayodhya illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas and fireworks.
But generally speaking, Diwali signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and renewal of life.
Diwali in New Zealand
The Hindu Heritage Research Foundation(NZ) first held the Diwali festivals in 2010. 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 100 people attended the Diwali celebrations in Papatoetoe. Last year, more than 700 visited the festival organised by HHRF (NZ). Mostly this Festival is celebrated with all other ethnic groups to spread peace and harmony amongst each other, this festival brings many things for the Hindus and it is also the start of their New Year. This Festival would not succeed without every ones contribution. Mainly the ASB Communities Trust funds this festival. In 2013 Her excellency Fiji High Commissioner to New Zealand Ms.Mere Tora was our chief Guest and last year His Excellency the High Commissioner of India Dr. Ravi Thappar was our Chief Guest to mark the Fiji Independence day on the 10th of October.
Every Year each of the under umbrella organisations of Hindu Heritage research Foundation (NZ) has a privilege to Host this Festival of lights. This Festival takes place at Papatoetoe Town Hall at 35 St. George Street in Papatoetoe and the evening is full of entertainment from various ethnic groups and food, snacks and juice are distributed free.