Sunil Kaushal –
An enthusiastic crowd of more than 4000 men, women and children of all faiths enjoyed traditional Indian food, music and dancing at the 12th Annual Holi Mela at Trusts Arena, Henderson, on Sunday, March 19, 2017.
Holi is a traditional Hindu festival to celebrate the beginning of spring with its abundant colours and vibrant life.
Using colourful Gulal powder and water, participants painted themselves with the hues of the season and learned more about this Hindu tradition.
The Waitakere Indian Association (WIA) is a community organisation made up of diverse people working side-by-side to strengthen the community in West Auckland. The Holi Festival is one of several events organised by the Cultural Engagement Committee of WIA, a volunteer-led group created to celebrate the customs and traditions of different cultures in our increasingly diverse community.
Everyone therefore feels connected and welcome at the WIA.
“We are proud to host such a festive celebration at WIA. The event was a great success thanks in large part to our committee volunteers, who organise initiatives that celebrate the diverse cultures of our community,” Association President Mahendra Sharma said.
“It has been the motto and effort of Waitakere Indian Association to promote diversity in our area. Now Waitakere Holi Mela has developed into an event not only for Indians but also for the wider New Zealand community. Celebrating the festival of colours in our diversely cultural city is a way to continue building better relations with the community,” he added.
Mr Sharma said that migrants, especially those who integrate and work with the wider community, have added colour to the cultural landscape of the country.
“WIA has built bridges with the local Maori Community and we are proud to say that we work together well,” he said.
“Waitakere Indian Association is committed to increasing cultural engagement within our communities,” Councillor Penny Hulse said, speaking on behalf of the Auckland Council and The Trusts Charitable Foundation.
Peter Chan, Vice Chair of Henderson-Massey Local board was also present.
Pacific Peoples Minister Alfred Ngaro said, “We believe that with a greater understanding and acceptance of our differences, we can grow into a stronger, more supportive community where individuals feel comfortable being themselves and have every opportunity to thrive.”
People’s People speak
Members of Parliament Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Melissa Lee and Dr Parmjeet Parmar were also present.
Leader of the Opposition Hon Andrew Little thanked the Waitakere Indian Association for bringing the Holi event together where not just Indian community but also other communities come together and showcase the true diversity of the changing face of New Zealand.
He was joined by his Parliamentary colleagues Phil Twyford, Michael Wood and Carmel Sepuloni and the Party’s Maungakiekie candidate in the forthcoming general election Priyanca Radhakrishnan.
Representing New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters, Member of Parliament Mahesh Bindra acknowledged WIA as pioneers in celebrating Holi with the wider community.
Radio Tarana Managing Director Robert Khan praised WIA for being community- focused and providing opportunities for other communities to learn more about the Indian culture.
“It is important to me that our families know and love people of all cultures. The more we know and understand each other, the more love there is to share,” he said.
For more information, videos and photographs of the event, please visit the Facebook page of the Waitakere Indian Association.
Sunil Kaushal is Vice-President of Waitakere Indian Association.