The unique and exceptional Waitakere Diwali will be held at The Trusts Stadium (The House of Diwali), located at Central Park Drive, Henderson on Sunday October 1, 2017 from 11 am to 1030 pm, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display.
Entry and parking are free. All are welcome to attend, where Auckland Mayor Phil Goff will be the Chief Guest.
Across Political Spectrum
Depending on which side the election dice falls a week earlier (September 23, 2017), we may have members of a new Labour government, or the old National team, or those from a hung Parliament as they trade horses.
This is because, Waitakere Diwali happens to be one of the first big community events after the election. So, we do expect fireworks!
Pure Community event
If Auckland Council wishes to use a community organisation as “owning” an event, and working in partnership with it to bring festivities in specific regions in a cost-effective fashion – then Waitakere Diwali is what it needs to emulate.
With funding from Auckland Council or its related arms and sponsors, Waitakere Indian Association (WIA) has been lighting West Auckland for over a decade, where Auckland Council or its predecessor, Waitakere City Council, did not have to directly get involved in Diwali of West Auckland. This is because WIA has been doing this so efficiently and effectively.
As Diwali is basically a Hindu festival, they are the ones who actually run it, away from commercialisation and financial interests.
In fact, some Indian community leaders have stated that festivals and events which belongs to a particular community should be empowered by Auckland Council and funding agencies to run it.
One concern is that democratic institutions formed by community in each city (like respective Indian Associations) are being pushed aside by individuals, sometime family-owned, trusts and corporates.
Since Diwali has become a cash cow, more and more groups are being formed every year to milk money from the occasion.
The community needs to resist these events being commercialised by those corporate, tin-pot trusts and business organisations whose interests are in promotion, marketing, publicity, public relations and generating revenue. That is exactly the difference in Waitakere Diwali, where the theme is to unite the community, inculcate an atmosphere of diversity and raise awareness of the actual essence of Diwali.
The other uniqueness of Waitakere Diwali is that The Trusts Stadium is weather-proof.
WIA’s community-based organisation is fully-run by volunteers, unlike other corporate or council organised Diwali events.
As a community organisation, WIA is appreciative of religious, cultural, traditional decorum, demeanour and sensitivity of the event. Hence WIA ensures that tradition of Diwali theme is not eroded. It has strict dress codes and other codes to ensure Diwali retains its meaning and theme.
Ram Lila on stage
Every year, WIA Diwali has a main themed-event after the evening prayers. This year, it would be ‘Ram Lila’ by Pooja Cultural Centre Trust, initiated and managed by Pundit Ram Kumar Sewak, based at Skipton Hall, Mangere, Auckland. The scenes from Ram Lila would depict episodes of Ramayan including Ram in exile, abduction of Sita, meeting Hanuman and death of Ravan, heralding victory of light over darkness, and good over evil.
Sumptuous Indian Food
Among those with their food stalls this year would be Saffron Indian Restaurant, Bangalore Bites, Mithai, Kulfi, Krishna Feast, Desi Wok and usual features of Masala Dosa, Hare Krishna, and Candy Floss for the kids. You would have a choice to taste these delights at one location.
In addition to food and craft stalls and Ram Lila, there would be an assortment of cultural and Bollywood items to keep you and your family entertained.
The spectacular fireworks would occur at 930 pm.
We look forward to your company with family and friends.
Thakur Ranjit Singh is a journalist who also writes about community events. He has been a member of Waitakere Indian Association for more than ten years and was on its Executive Committee. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scenes from Ram Lila