Bollywood megastar Dharmendra faced a sea of his fan in high spirits as he spoke in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Gujarati at the Tarana Manukau Diwali held at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau on October 17.
“I am happy to be in New Zealand, the most beautiful country in the world. I am touched by the hospitality and friendship that people have extended to me in this lovely Auckland City. I hope to come again,” he said, addressing his fans at a formal ceremony held in the afternoon and again in the evening prior to a spectacular display of fireworks.
More than 60,000 people reportedly visited the venue to enjoy Diwali festivities held from 12 pm to 9 pm.
Among those who spoke on the occasion were Members of Parliament Phil Goff (Labour), Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (National), Arthur Anae (Auckland Council), Superintendent John Tims (District Commander, Counties Manukau Police) and Radio Tarana Managing Director Robert Khan.
Tarana Manukau Diwali saw many acts representing various parts of India, showcasing different cultures and customs. Dance performances, singers and skits added to the festive spirit. With every passing year the scale of this event gets bigger, and the number of those attending swells. There were plenty of food stalls offering gastronomic delights.
This event was an initiative of Radio Tarana supported by local companies, with no financial assistance given to by the Auckland Council.
It raises several unanswered questions.
Why is the Auckland Council cutting funds to voluntary organisations, which are committed to making a difference to local communities and yet spending large sums of money on Diwali? Who benefits by this event? Does it act as an advertisement for New Zealand Tourism? Does it help local Indian acts garner international opportunities?
The answer to each of the above is ‘No.’
The Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch Councils spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to celebrate the so-called ‘Diwali 2014.’ But do these really add value to the Kiwi community? Organisers of such events are paid huge salaries but there is hardly any Indian input in them.
But events like Tarana Manukau Diwali not only bring together communities but also provide them an opportunity to meet their favourite Indian film stars.