Indian culture

A Guide to Diwali in Auckland: Celebrating the City’s Vibrant Indian Culture

Diwali is a special time of celebration for the Indian community in New Zealand and this year, like so many before, will be celebrated in the homes of families around the world as they share food, offer gifts and light up. candles or diyas to commemorate the return of Lord Rama, his wife and brother from their 14 year exile (after the defeat of the 10-headed demon king Ravana).

Diwali signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and the renewal of life; it is a beautiful time to celebrate with your loved ones.


Up to 20,000 people celebrated Diwali 2020 at Hagley Park in Christchurch on Saturday.

Although it is often a private family celebration, Auckland has also embraced it on a larger scale over the past 18 years – and like the Chinese New Year and Pasifika, it is now part of our annual calendar, generally honored by a two-day central city while singing. dance festival with bright lights, energetic performances, delicious Indian specialties and spectacular fireworks.

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Special format for 2020

As Diwali is such an important celebration for the community, it was important that it continued regardless of any potential fluctuations in Covid-19 alert levels.

This year the celebrations are much more localized, spread across 30 community locations from Warkworth to Papatoetoe. While it is sad that we don’t have the big central event, in many ways it is even more exciting to see it happening in more places across Tāmaki Makaurau, through 100 free events and activities. In some ways, this makes it more accessible to everyone.

There will be cooking and dancing lessons, rangoli drawing, an introduction to music, craft lessons, DIY henna, saree wearing and much more. Many activities are practical, so perfect for families.

The Auckland Diwali Festival takes place over three weeks.


The Auckland Diwali Festival takes place over three weeks.

Highlight events

Six flagship events are organized on Fridays and Saturdays during the first two weekends (October 30 to 31 and November 6 to 7).

These are full day programs that take place at the Ellen Melville Center in the CBD, Warkworth Town Hall, Te Oro Glen Innes, Avondale Community Center, Town Hall de Papatoetoe and the Wesley Community Center, and will include a full day of hands-on activities, workshops and panel discussions on issues such as women’s empowerment, modern arranged marriages and being Indian in New Zealand. -Zeeland (only in certain locations), as well as evening movies.

Nathan Homestead will also host an evening of classical Indian music with Basant Madhur from the Sagram School of Indian Music.

Lights will be projected on the town hall of Papatoetoe for Diwali.


Lights will be projected on the town hall of Papatoetoe for Diwali.

Enlighten it

As befits the Festival of Lights, there will be numerous light projections (in vibrant Diwali colors, fuchsia and yellow) all around the city.

The Ellen Melville Center will be bathed in light from October 27 to November 14; Te Oro Glen Innes, Avondale Community Center from 8 p.m., October 30 and 31; Nathan Homestead and Wesley Community Center starting at 8 p.m. on November 6-7, and there will be a spectacular dynamic screening telling the story of Diwali screened at Papatoetoe Town Hall on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings for two weekends. ends (6-8 November and 13-15).

Queen Street, The Sky Tower, Te Ara I Whiti – The Lightpath, Vector Lights on the Harbor Bridge and Auckland Viaduct will also light it up at different times of the festival.

Bend it like Bollywood – with the stars of Shortland Street

If you really want to get into the spirit of things, Papatoetoe Town Hall will be the place to be on Friday November 6th. You can dress up and learn some Bollywood moves so you can dance the night away with Shortland Street Stars from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Food is a big part of the festival.


Food is a big part of the festival.


In the past, food stalls were a major component of public Diwali celebrations in Auckland, but with alert levels fluctuating rapidly during planning, the usual plethora of street food was too risky.

Instead, the cooking classes will offer a rich insight into Indian cuisine, from snacks and sweets to popular traditional dishes. A spice market at Te Oro Glen Innes on Saturday October 31 will be a feast for the eyes and stomach with the smell and color of cardamom, cassia, turmeric, fenugreek, saffron and more.

In November, Auckland’s Little India – Sandringham Village – will hold its annual Sandringham Spring Festival from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. where roads will be closed and there will be specialties from local restaurants as well as stand-alone food stalls from favorites like Mumbai Chaat. , Satya, Bawarchi and Shubh.

Round tables

A key component of the Auckland Diwali festival will be group discussions on topics of importance to the Auckland Indian communities.

These are the three that will take place during the festival. Empowerment of women, Center Ellen Melville, Friday, October 30 at 6:30 p.m. A discussion with an inspiring panel of women from Auckland Indian communities (including business owners, a police sergeant and an academic) about their culture, careers and more.

It will explore the challenges they faced, the expectations, the opportunities they see and their tips for navigating the business, creative and academic worlds.

Modern day arranged marriages, Te Oro Glen Innes, Saturday October 31 at 6:30 p.m. An open and refreshing conversation about arranged marriages in modern times, approaching this topic from different angles.

Panelists will share their own experiences, including successful arranged marriages, love marriages, recent marriages, and finding “the one”.

Being Indian in Aotearoa, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Sunday 8 November at 6:30 p.m. A discussion of how Aucklanders of Indian descent cope with having one foot in both worlds.

Panelists will explore prejudices and preconceptions, as well as the joys of their cultural identity.

The first two are free and occasional entry, but being an Indian in Aotearoa requires book a free ticket here.


Bring a bean bag and blanket and head to some popular family movie screenings – there will be free masala chai and popcorn for all guests.

Friday October 30

The lunch box (2013), Ellen Melville Center

Lion (2016), Warkworth Town Hall

saturday 31 october

Bride and prejudice (2004), Te Oro, Glen Innes

Million dollar arm (2014), Avondale Community Center

Friday 6 November

Yesterday (2019), Papatoetoe Town Hall

saturday 7 november

Pi’s life (2012), Wesley Community Center

For the full program of over 100 free events and activities, visit

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