Cultural plurality and multi-ethnicity marked Indian Independence Day in various parts of New Zealand, with a number of organisations and groups participating in the celebrations with enthusiasm and goodwill.
The annual event is fast becoming a major celebration, as Maori, Pacific Islanders, people of European descent, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans (to mention a few), marking their presence with a spirit of solidarity.
High Commission Wellington
The festivities were led by Indian High Commissioner Avanindra Kumar Pandey with a flag-hoisting ceremony and the speech of India’s President Pranab Mukherjee at India House in Wellington on August 15, followed by rendition of patriotic songs.
Several Indian associations and related bodies reported enthusiastic attendance of people at their functions. Following is a summary of the reports received by us.
Waikato Chapter of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) marked the day with National Poetry at the Hamilton Garden Place Library on August 15, with a Unity Lunch at Sky City.
President Pradeep Kapoor said that the celebration was a success with the participation of a large number of Hamiltonians including adults, youth and children.
Speaking on the occasion, Founder and Life Member of the Organisation and GOPIO International Women’s Council Chairperson Suman Kapoor outlined the importance of fostering cross-cultural relationship and the participation of people of Indian origin, including India, Fiji and New Zealand and the involvement of people from Pakistan and other countries.
She spoke about the freedom struggle launched by the members of the Ghadar Party (established by Punjabi Indians in Canada and US).
“Indians also formed the ‘Hindustani Association of the Pacific Coast in Astoria, Oregon, popularly known as the ‘Ghadar Party. Thousands of members of the Party returned to India and inspired their compatriots to fight for freedom from the British rule. We mark with respect the centenary of the Party,” she said.
Mrs Kapoor later presented GOPIO pins with Ghadar Party emblem to a number of members and to other guests.
Among the highlights of the programme were recitation of poetry by Somnath Gupta and Jayantkumar Thanki, a quiz by Savitri Naidu, and narration of historic milestones by Madan Singh Bange.
Among those who rendered songs were Sharma (from India) Savitri Naidu, Taqui &. Idrat Mehndi, Sadaf Naveed, Neena Sharma and Beljit Kaur
David Searle of Dunedin recited a self-composed poem on the iconic landmark of Hamilton, the Barge that stood on the Waipa Delta for decades.
Youngster Smuriti Sharma was dressed up as Bharat Mata.
India Festival Auckland
The Festival of India organised by Radio Tarana with the support of a number of sponsors at Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau on August 17 was an event to remember. More than 3000 men, women and children reportedly attended the Festival, arriving at varied times to get a taste of Indian culture and cuisine.
Among the dignitaries present were Members of Parliament Dr Rajen Prasad (Labour), Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (National), Asenati Lole-Taylor (NZ First), Councillors Arthur Anae, Alf Filipaina (Manukau) and Families Commissioner Dr Parmjeet Parmar
Organisations and individuals who presented performances included Auckland Marathi Association, Bombay Magic, Danisha’s Dance Group, Khotey Sikkey, Punjabi Virsa, Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust, Tamil Society of Dance, Bhatt, Deborah and Pallavi, Mehak & Anjali, Nasha and Pooja Nory.
Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust
Aotea Square in Auckland’s Central Business District virtually became a parade ground and dancing stage with a number of leaders dancing to the tune of ‘Desi Dhol’ (National Drums).
Among them were Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins, Indian High Commissioner Avanindra Kumar Pandey, Auckland Mayor Len Brown, the then Labour Party Leader David Shearer, Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy, Members of Parliament Phil Goff, Winston Peters, Dr Rajen Prasad, Melissa Lee, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Dr Cam Calder, Ward Councillors and Local Board Members.
The event, organised by Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust in association with Humm FM 106.2 FM and other sponsors, attracted more than 3000 people, representing a cross-section of the society.
A series of speeches and a cultural programme comprising music and dance were held at the adjoining Civic Stadium.
Trust Chairman Jeet Suchdev said that the annual event was gaining popularity year after year and that the contributions of the Indian community to the progress of the New Zealand economy were increasingly being recognised.
Roshila Prasad, Executive Director of Humm 106.2 FM and Roopa Suchdev, Vice-Chairman of Bhartiya Samaj presented a cheque for $10,360 to Mr Pandey, being the amount collected by both organisations in aid of the Uttarakhand flood victims.