Our Wellington

News | 23 October 2020

Cuisine, colour, and culture at Diwali

As you walk through the doors of Diwali, you’ll enter into a wonderful world of organised chaos.

A woman in colourful cultural Indian dress, on stage with other dancers, performing at Diwali.

This is how event organiser Murali Kumar describes the annual festival, which is being held this weekend on Wellington’s waterfront.

According to Murali, to pull off a great event it must deliver on three vital objectives.

“Educate, engage and entertain is what an event should do. And that is exactly what this event does.”

Murali has been involved in Wellington’s Diwali festival since it was launched in the early 2000s – starting out as a musician and MC, then working to get the capital’s “harder to reach” Indian and South East Asian communities involved in and performing at the event, and in 2009 he took over as the festival producer.

“I enjoy putting it together and just love the energy, the buzz of it,” Murali says.

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“When you come into the festival you get a real taste of organised chaos – stalls and food, clothes and jewellery, arts and craft and retail. Then you’ve got all the wonderful, colourful performances of the communities coming together.

“My favourite part would be the hustle and bustle of the stalls, and of course the diverse performances and the joy the people have in performing as well as those who are watching.”

Wellington’s Diwali festival attracts an average of 20,000 people every year. It is organised by Communities Action Trust (CATNZ), with support from Wellington City Council.

A founding trustee of CATNZ, Murali says the event is a great vehicle for cultural connection and understanding.

“This is about communities coming together. Diwali is a great opportunity that the Council offer that not just brings the wider Indian communities together but actually pulls the wider community together to enable social integration and social cohesion.

“I think it is really important this festival. It is a great opportunity to educate, engage, and entertain ourselves about the diverse cultures of New Zealand.”

Diwali festivals are also held annually in Auckland and Christchurch. Also known as the Festival of Lights, this ancient Hindu festival symbolises the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and the renewal of life.

Murali says Diwali is now widely celebrated around the world and has transcended from the religious domain and into the spiritual and cultural realms.

“Today it is a strong social festival that bonds people together. All the food is vegetarian, there is no alcohol – it’s got the values of doing good and being good to each other.”

He encourages everyone to come along and experience what Diwali has to offer. The celebrations will close with dazzling fireworks, sponsored by Kāpura, at 8.30pm.

  • Wellington’s Diwali festival is being held this Sunday 25 October at the TSB Arena and Shed 6, between 3pm and 8.30pm, with a gold coin entry.