Deepawali (Festival of Lights) is a well known Hindu festival celebrated all over the world. This year, the Rotorua Deepawali Festival (RDF 2011) will be celebrated on Saturday, 1 October 2011 at the Rotorua Convention Centre. Entry to the festival is free.
Rotorua Deepawali Festival has been celebrated successfully for the past 3 years. Each year, it has grown bigger, better and brighter. Last year, more than 4000 people from both Rotorua and out of town celebrated this unique smoke-free, alcohol-free and meat-free festival. People came from Auckland, Hamilton, Taupo, Tauranga, Whakatane, Taumarunui and Wellington.
“It is really heart-warming to see people from various cultures, nationalities, ethnic groups, faiths, and belonging to various organisations already booking tickets for this year’s festival,” said Dr Guna Magesan, festival coordinator.
“Deepawali in Rotorua has been unique in presenting the best of Hindu and Kiwi, particularly Maori, cultures, and we also aim to make it that way,” Dr Magesan added.
A measure of the popularity of the manner in which Deepawali is celebrated in Rotorua is that festival organisers from other cities have shown their keenness to participate and observe the uniqueness of this festival; and to see how this could be implemented in their respective cities.
Each year, RDF committee has added a novel feature in organising the Deepawali celebrations. In the first year, RDF was organised as a smoke-free, alcohol-free and meat-free festival, sending a strong message of healthy lifestyle to the community. In the second year, RDF gave importance to Hindu Maori whakawhanangatanga (kinship). Last year the focus was on youth development, guided by the vision to let the youth from Hindu and other communities to take the leadership in organising events that promote social harmony.
This year’s focus is Women Empowerment and the festival will be planned, and organised by women. Already, young women diaspora from India, Nepal and Fiji, and from New Zealand are part of the RDF11 organising committee. Participants from other countries are expected to join.
“A focus for the organising committee this year will be to send a nation wide message to all New Zealand communities on how women can exert a positive influence on society in leadership roles. We invite women from both Hindu and non-Hindu communities to take part in organising and promoting this festival,” Dr. Meeta Patel, Joint coordinator of the festival, said.
Last year, the festival was sponsored by a number of charitable organisations, supported by several government agencies, businesses and community organisations, and promoted by print and electronic media.
“With the focus on Women Empowerment this year, we expect more Government agencies to participate,” Dr Patel added.
Hindu Council of New Zealand (HCNZ) is a registered incorporated society based in Rotorua, and has obtained a charitable status from Charities Commission. HCNZ works towards promoting inter-community exchanges in arts, culture and heritage.
HCNZ has also been organising Marae stays for the Hindu community to allow them to experience and learn about Maori culture and tradition.
For the last three years, Hindu Council of New Zealand has raised funds for the success of the Rotorua Deepawali Festival, thanks to its track record in terms of community projects and its relationship with government agencies and non-government organizations and charitable funding bodies. This year also HCNZ will raise the required funds for the festival.
Appreciation for HCNZ and the work by its volunteers has come from individuals, community organisations and government agencies, for example, the Department of Internal Affairs published a front page article on Rotorua Deepawali in their newsletter ‘Community Matters’.
In his latest support letter, His Worship Mr Kevin Winters, the Mayor of Rotorua wrote “The Hindu Council continues to put a lot of time and effort into organising this event and plan an even more varied Festival this year with the help of their women”.
The Mayor adds “Over the past couple of years the Rotorua community has embraced the Deepawali Festival and thoroughly enjoyed the colour, food and entertainment that we have come to associate with the Festival”.
When HCNZ aims at a project for public good, it will carry it out with commitment, passion and sincerity.
“Our aim is to make Rotorua Deepawali Festival a role model community festival not only for Rotorua, but also to rest of New Zealand and the world, by 2015,” Dr Guna Magesan, said.
Involving local community, especially Maori community, in the festival has been noticed by community leaders and festival organisers in other countries in Europe and America.
We believe festival organisers in those countries have started planning to celebrate Deepawali with their indigenous communities; sometimes even in the face of obstacles created by organisations and individuals with motives to create conflict.
Rotorua Deepawali Festival Committee welcomes everyone to join who is genuinely interested in promoting Deepawali in the spirit of community well being and elimination of negativities through this Hindu festival of lights. The festival’s positive aspects benefit Rotorua communities, contribution to its growth helps all while sending a message of “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam” (World is one family).
The seating capacity of Rotorua Convention Centre for the evening cultural show is 685. More than 300 tickets have been already reserved – following the success of last year’s festival. The remaining seats will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.
For seat reservation, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org