50 Maharashtrians celebrate the Festival of Lights with nostalgia
This story was updated at 1045 pm on Monday, November 23, 2020
Three generations of Maharashtrians at the Deepavali 2020
More than 50 Maharashtrians arrived at a farmhouse of Komal and Rahul Save in rural Canterbury, about 45-minute drive from Christchurch, on Sunday, November 15, 2020 to celebrate Deepavali.
While most were Cantabrians, the Bhingarkar family (erstwhile residents of Christchurch) flew from Tauranga and the Nimbalkars drove from Kurow in mid-Canterbury for the occasion.
Maharashtrian women in ethnic attire at the Farmhouse Party
With homemade vegetarian food and with each family bringing Diwali Special sweet or savoury items, there was ample food with a variety of dishes.
There were games for children and adults, singing Marathi and Hindi songs and lots of chatter.
The evening ended with fireworks for children under the watchful eyes of adults.
Deepavali 2020 hosts Komal and Rahul Save
Growth with diverse professions
Padmakar Shevde, whose family now includes two grandchildren, said that he was thrilled to see so many families, including many new arrivals, joining the celebrations.
“It was pleasing to see everyone in traditional costumes enjoying together, with all homemade food. I am also happy to see the younger generation embracing our culture and language,” he said.
Mr Shevde said that there were very few families when he first arrived in Christchurch.
Our group now includes people with diverse professions, including Accountancy, Agriculture & Farming, Banking, Education, Engineering, Food Technology, Healthcare, Hospitality, Information Technology, Real Estate, Retail and Utility.
Amusement for children at Deepavali get-together
Young couple welcomed
The Shevde family spans three generations, with each of them adding value to relationships and community engagement.
Abhimanyu and Sheetal Shrikhande were the youngest couple at the Diwali Party, having got married in December 2019.
Abhimanyu said that they got to a challenging start this year with Sheetal arriving in New Zealand under travel restrictions imposed under Covid-19. Their parents however could not come to New Zealand to mark the first Diwali of their children after their marriage (a Hindu tradition).
However, they were delighted to receive the invitation to join the celebrations of the large Maharashtrian community.
Sweets and Savouries to mark Deepavali 2020
Abhimanyu and Sheetal said that they felt at home almost immediately after arriving at the farmhouse and that they could be a part of the enjoyment and festive spirit. The tone of friendship and camaraderie continued after the event, with others sending invitations to connect through social media (Facebook and WhatsApp).
Mumbai Street food galore
Veena Joshi’s Pani Puri (Gol Gappe) stall was the most popular event of the celebration.
It would not be an overstatement that the atmosphere mirrored that of a Pani Puri stall at Juhu beach in Mumbai or Peshave Park in Pune, with everyone enjoying the dish.
Veena echoed Padmakar’s comment that it was so nice to see that language, culture, food and traditions were not only being preserved but passed on to the younger generation.
She said that there were only eight families when she first arrived at Christchurch, and for many years she did not feel any excitement of Diwali in Christchurch.
She is now excited to prepare for Diwali like in India, with ethnic wear, food, decorations, et al.
Komal and Rahul Save, who manage a dairy farm, said that they were so pleased that everyone accepted their offer to host the celebrations at their ‘farm-house’ in the Eyrewell Forest area.
They said that all the efforts needed to host more than friends were memorable.
Shirish Paranjape is our Correspondent based in Christchurch. He and his family have been active in the Maharashtrian and wider community in Canterbury since their migration from Mumbai in 2002.
The above story has been sponsored by