There is a growing feeling among the members of the Indian community that Diwali is losing its traditional value and that Bollywood and unwarranted glamour are hijacking a traditional observance.
“Most events held in New Zealand lack authenticity. Organisers of such programmes are perhaps under the false notion that only gyrations would sell. They are wrong. New Zealanders would respect and encourage tradition and heritage more than Bollywood,” they said.
The Indian High Commission should be commended for being an effective conduit to bring home some of the most colourful and quality performers whenever required; and more so during the Diwali seasons.
Some years ago, the Mission was the first point of contact for Asia NZ Foundation (then called Asia 2000 Foundation) which organises mega festivals in Auckland and Wellington with the support of the respective City Councils.
The Festival has grown to include Christchurch and Dunedin, with a series of other programmes and activities to evince the interest of wider communities.
The Diwali Festival this year will feature cultural and stage performances by a Folk Dance Group from Rajasthan and a Magic Show by Uday Jadugar.
A native of the South Indian state of Karnatka, Jadugar is one of the foremost magicians of India, with worldwide performances to his credit. As well as exhibiting usual tricks, he is known for a number of thrilling acts, which attract the young and the old. His first performance was scheduled to be held in Dunedin on October 15.
Indianz Dunedin Event Organiser Nayan Padiyar said Diwali afforded an opportunity to share Indian culture with the rest of the city and transfer cultural traditions to the next generation.
“The Festival of Lights has become one of the Dunedin Indian community’s main annual cultural celebrations. Magician Jadugar and the folk dancers from Rajasthan will make a difference this year,” she said.
“We are proud of our culture and would like to foster and project it to the rest of the community in South Island.”
Jadugar’s schedule included performances at the Balmacewen Intermediate School and George St Normal School, Meridian Mall and Dunedin Public Library. His main appearance was at the Diwali Concert at the Dunedin College of Education auditorium on October 16.
Ms Padiyar said Rajasthani dancers brought colour and energy to the Diwali Festival.
“The rich musical heritage of Rajasthan has been passed down over generations by tribal castes of hereditary singers, poets and musicians such as the ‘Langas’ and the ‘Manganiyar.’ Among the favourites are the Fire Dance, Snake Dance and the Ghoomar Dance in which the dancers pirouette to show off their long embroidered skirts,” Ms Padiyar said.
Other attractions in Dunedin include a Food and Handicrafts Bazaar,
Despite the hardships perpetrated by the earthquake on September 4, Christchurch residents are expected to turn out in large numbers at the Victoria Square on October 17 to enjoy another Festival of Lights comes to the Canterbury town.
The programme, beginning at 5 pm, will include a magic show by Uday Jadugar, folk dances by the Rajasthan Group and other items.
Apart from the main Diwali Mela which will be held at the TSB Bank Arena Queen’s Wharf) on October 24 from 1 pm, the Capital City will experience a number of other programmes for more than ten days.
These include Diwali Gharba on October 23 at 8 pm (entry $5 per person, free for children below 12 years of age) and Bollywood Dance Competition on October 2; Food Festival from October 28 to November 16 at James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor; Magic Show by Uday Jadugar and Rajasthan folk dance group (hosted by the Wellington Indian Association); Bharata Natyam Dance by Gayatri Balagurunathan in association with Vivek Kinra of the Wellington based Music Dance Company.
Among the other events are a Bindi Exhibition at the Pataka Museum, Porirua, ‘Indian Illuminated,’ an exhibition by Meena Kadri from October 21 to 14 at a CBD shop window near Wakefield Hotel (Cuba Street) and free classical dance workshops with Indian performers.
The Asia NZ Foundation Diwali Mela 2010 will conclude with a two-day fanfare at the Aotea Square and Aotea Centre and the Edge on October 30 and 31.
Editor’s Note: The above details, received from organisers and collected from various sources, may not be complete. For latest information, visit www.asianz.org.nz