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Introspection helps assess human values

Namaste. With the Festival of Lights now only a matter of weeks away, I want to wish everyone in New Zealand’s vibrant Indian community a warm ‘Shubh Diwali.’

The Festival has many powerful messages, which include celebrating victory over evil and light over darkness. It is also a time to champion forgiveness for past mistakes.

For your community, this is truly a time for joy and togetherness that will have an impact across New Zealand.

Diwali has a wide resonance right across India.

For New Zealand Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, the Festival can be especially poignant, with thoughts of family and loved ones sharing the tradition from afar.

Its tradition of celebrating hope above all is a reminder of the values we all ultimately share – fairness, equality and unity; the same values that Labour represents.

It is a chance for everyone to renew our conviction to make our country a better place, where everyone gets a fair go.

For the New Zealand Indian Community, it is a chance to stand tall and proudly share their culture and traditions with the rest of the country.

For the rest of us, it is a chance to take stock of what the Indian society has given New Zealand over the decades. It is wonderful to see New Zealanders from all walks of life now taking part in the dance, culture and food that are at the heart of Diwali.

It is important to remember that as Diwali approaches, there will be celebrations across New Zealand, in what will be a powerful signal for the wider migrant community.

It is an opportunity to showcase achievers and give New Zealanders a chance to acknowledge that wonderful relationship.

Visiting artistes

For me, the most fascinating act that will be performed in New Zealand for Diwali will be the ‘Chhau Dancers’ from Jharkhand. This masked dance troupe will take part in a traditional dance that is part martial arts, part street theatre.

They will be dancing in Auckland’s Aotea Square and Wellington’s TSB arena. Also appearing at the Diwali festivals across New Zealand will be a famous Indian artist Hanif Kureshi who specialises in hand-painted fonts.

I wish you a Happy Diwali and hope that amidst all the celebrations, you will get a chance for a quiet reflection on what Divali means for your family.

David Cunliffe is the Leader of Labour Party elected from New Lynn Constituency in Auckland and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. He is seen here with residents in Hamilton.

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