The staff and volunteers of Bupa Erin Park Care Home in Indian attire
And two events in Auckland reinforce its universality
India’s cultural heritage with all its colour, costumes and customs has become a part of New Zealand, and comes alive during the festive seasons of Navaratri and Diwali between September and November, although Holi, the Festival of Colours, also witnesses thousands of people to participate and spread goodwill and understanding.
Diwali may have been a Hindu festival but it has crossed the bounds of religion and connotes differently to different areas of India.
Some Hindus mark it as a Festival that honours Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, while many other celebrate it as the homecoming of Lord Rama to the Kingdom of Ayodhya after 14 years in exile. In this popular version of Ramayana, the great Indian epic, the people of Ayodhya illuminated their Kingdom with earthen ‘Diyas’ (lamps) and fireworks.
The staff and residents of Bupa Erin Park Care Home at their Diwali Festival
The origin of Diwali may differ and some of the associated legends may be commonplace for many Indians but they are alien to the growing generation of young Indians in New Zealand and more so, for those who have begun to evince interest in Indian way of life and celebrating festivals.
Diwali customs and the methods of celebration differ between the various States of India, and in some cases, between provinces and areas within a State.
Diwali is a festival that also highlights the cultural diversity of the country, constantly reminding people of the world of its unique characteristics.
While the theme of Diwali connotes a universal concept, namely triumph of truth over evil of darkness obliterated by light, and ignorance pervaded by knowledge, the approach to the Festival is different between the various segments of the community.
From a meteorological point of view, Diwali also signals an ensuing winter and from a societal view, it denotes the dawn of a New Year for some and the midpoint in the year for many others.
With warmer days turning into a mild winter in the Northern Hemisphere and from the wintry days to bright Sunshine in the Southern Hemisphere, Diwali is filled with fun and celebrations range from one to five days.
Sergeant Gurpreet Arora with guests at the Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke Diwali
The residents, staff and volunteers of Bupa Erin Park Care Home in the South Auckland suburb of Manurewa wore colourful sarees and kurtas last weekend (Friday, November 13) as they celebrated the Festival of Lights.
“Of particular interest was when one of the staff performed a traditional prayer for the residents, which was very well received. It was the perfect time for the Care Home residents to learn about various cultures and practices. As a part of the excitement, we offered a prize for the ‘Best Dressed Person’ at the gathering,” he said.
“We really encourage diversity in our care homes and I know our residents love the opportunity to learn more about different cultures,” Mr Pedlar said.
Diwali for Family Harm Service Providers
Organised by Family Harm Partnership Liaison Officer Sergeant Gurpreet Arora, the event witnessed a traditional prayer, speeches and a Diwali lunch.
Sergeant Arora acknowledged the leadership of Whangaia Nga Pa Harakeke for their support.