New Zealand’s claim as a multicultural society comes alive at least once a year when the Chinese celebrate their Lantern Festival and Indians mark their Diwali. While the observances of other ethnic and community groups are equally important, Diwali is by far the most pervasive festivals of all, attracting hundreds of thousands of people of all extractions.
Diwali celebrations in Rotorua (our friend and Scientist Dr Guna Magesan likes to spell it as ‘Deepawali’ in the typical Tamil style) heralded the festive season this year, reversing its position as the ‘finale organiser’ in 2009. With the involvement of the Maori and other communities, the 2010 Festival was one of colours, costumes and cuisine, bringing forth unity and love.
Rotorua Energy Centre was again the venue for the event held on October 2 and Dr Magesan’s efforts to integrate Maori – not just the people but also their culture – were remarkable and inimitable.
Dance, drama, music, food, fun and laughter were all part of the daylong progamme that saw people from various parts of the country converging at this peaceful city.
Shaloh Mitchell, Gina Wright and Georgianne Crawford were the women involved in coordinating various activities.
Mr Mitchell said he was happy to share unique aspects of Maori hospitality with other members of the society.
“Festivals such as Holi and Deepawali bring our communities closer, allowing us to understand each another better. They also build stronger relationships among communities,” he said.
Ms Wright organised Mehndi Moko and Rangoli Art workshops, which attracted people of Indian, Maori, New Zealand and South African descent.
Ms Crawford was actively involved in almost all cultural items.
“The Festival also aimed to raise funds for the Christchurch earthquake victims through auction of Maori arts and carvings.
1. Dr Guna Magesan
2. Shaloh Mitchell and Aleisha Mitchell discuss festival plans
3. Maori-Hindu fusion dance
4. Students of Nardhana Vidyalaya presenting a number