Festivals: Timaru, Ashburton and corporate celebrations

caption for the above picture: Members of the Indian community at Christchurch-based multinational company AuCom, also celebrated Diwali; in a testimony to the growing diversity of the City's workplaces

Timaru's Diwali grows in popularity

- the celebrations in South Island winded up with South Canterbury's small town

With over 450 people from across the Timaru's multicultural communities attending, the South Island saw it's last Diwali celebration in South Canterbury's small town on November 12. Organised by the South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society, it was the fifth such celebration in the town, which has seen huge influx on Indian migrants recently, mainly in the agri sector.

Geeta Muralidharan, who hails from Kerala, shifted to Timaru 17 years back, and is the President of the Society informed, "Our chief guest was Member of Parliament for Rangitata Jo Goodhew, and National's List MP based in Manukau Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi especially flew in for the occasion. There were 16 song and dance performances to entertain the guests. Apart the local Timaru groups, we also had performers from Christchurch and Oamaru, and people came in from other parts of the South Island such as Geraldine to take part in our community celebration of Diwali. It's a testimony to the organising committee in our Society, which made the event such a professional success."

 Value Mart-Majha Bhangra Group (above and below) performing at the Diwali festival in Timaru organised by the South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society
 Participants at Ashburton's Diwali fest

The small-but-rapidly-growing town of Ashburton, just South of Christchurch, celebrated its own Diwali festival in the last week of October. Organised by the Ashburton Indian Multicultural Charitable Trust (AIMCT), the event was held at the Balmoral Hall and was attended by over 150 people. Rohini Sukul, Secretary of AIMCT informed, “We provided vegetarian meal, sweets and refreshments for the audience. In addition to that there was a diya lighting ceremony where the audience were invited to help us light the candles and diyas. We also had Indian songs and dance performances to entertain the people present. The Ashburton Ramayan and Timaru's kirtan group also supported us this time.”

 Paramchintan Swami and Adarshmuni Swami at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Christchurch, Diwali and Annakut celebrations

“Apart from hundreds of people from the community attending the event, we were also blessed by Paramchintan Swami and Adarshmuni Swami this year. Annakut is a grand offering of hundreds of different vegetarian food items to thank Swaminarayan for his providence over the past year and to seek his blessings for the year ahead. Similar to what Lord Krishna did when he lifted Govardhan Parvat and urged the people of Gokul to offer thanksgiving to nature for all its gracious bounty,” informed Sanjay Patel, secretary of BAPS in Christchurch. National's List MP from Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi based in Manukau East, Inspector Hirone Waretini, from Canterbury Police, and Minister Nicky Wagner, also attended the event.