Festivals: Fiji Association's Diwali notes the multicultural nature of new New Zealand

(caption for the above picture: Children from the Westport-based Buller High School performing at the event)

- the Association also calls for the City Council to support the Fiji community's event

 The event started with traditional Diwali prayers

The event was organised by the Christchurch Fiji Association or CFCESSA, and was attended by over 300 people. Informing this was Jagat Singh, President of CFCESSA, who added, "We have been organising Diwali for the past 14 years. Earlier we used to get some funding but not any more. Now the community gets together and organises the event. Hopefully, the City Council will start helping us again. If it happens, maybe we will be able to organise the event on a much bigger scale the next year."

 The capacity crowd from all communities was entertained for close to four hours

Meanwhile, the highlight of the event was participants from the Westport-based Buller High School who drove five hours to perform in the celebation. Vinesh Prakash, Secretary of CFCESSA, added, “It was the second time students - who were majority Kiwis - from Westport became a part of Fiji’s Diwali. There were some Chinese and African participants as well who are a part of Fiji’s Jalsa Hip Hop Group. This is a living proof of the multicultural nature of the new New Zealand.”

Meanwhile, Singh in his message to the gathering traced the Fiji connection to India. “We are from the Fiji Islands; a multiracial and multicultural country. Yet each one of us - thousands of miles away from our mother country India, from where our ancestors came - have maintained our own identity by preserving and fostering our language, culture, traditions and religion.”

He ended by explaining the modern context of Diwali. “In modern times Diwali is also a reminder of the death of Swami Dayanand who was poisoned on this very day as per the Hindu calendar in 1883. This was probably in retaliation to Swami’s life work of fighting against superstitious beliefs and unnecessary customs. So whether you look at Lord Rama’s life or Swami’s work, Diwali’s spiritual message is to drive out the evil within us and light the lamp of knowledge.”

 Fiji Jalsa Hip Hop Group's performance was eagerly awaited