Diwali or Deepavali is a festival celebrated all over India across faiths. Diwali is also celebrated in neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. The literal meaning of Diwali is a row of lights. It symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. During this festival, people decorate their homes with lights.
The date for the Diwali celebration is based on the lunar calendar and hence changes every year, but usually falls between October and November.
Diwali is a festival of lights, and therefore decorations with lights are a prominent feature of the festivities. People also draw beautiful and intricate patterns called rangoli on the floor by the entrance of their homes as colourful and creative expression of their festive spirits and to bring good luck and prosperity. These patterns are created using ground rice, colourful powders, and flowers. Prayers and other rituals are also usually held on Diwali which is considered as an auspicious occasion. Diwali is also a time to have fun with friends and family! People exchange gifts and sweets, enjoy delicious feasts, watch firework displays and wear new clothes.
Diwali provides an opportunity for young kids to showcase their talent through cultural performances. Being a social event, it provides an occasion for members of the Indian community to connect with other communities in NZ and share the joy of the festival season.
In this segment from So Many Stories Alka Srinivasan and I talk with Kaitakawaenga Maatakiwi Wakefield about Diwali celebrations this November.
4MB, 5 minutes 8 seconds
Events at libraries
Tūranga Saturday 11 November
This year we are presenting special cultural performances from Kerala, a southern state of India. Uma Varma and her students of the Revathi Performing Arts will be presenting several performances on Saturday 11 November 11 from 1pm – 2pm at Tūranga.
We will start with Thiruvaathirakkali, a group dance by women dressed in traditional Kerala attire. This will be followed by semi-classical music performances. Kerala Natanam is another unique brand of dance popular in Kerala that is now recognised as a distinct art form evolved from Kathakali, a form of Indian dance-drama. Chenda , a cylindrical percussion instrument that is unique to Kerala will be played at the beginning of the event.
From 2.30 pm to 3.30 pm, there will be a free drop-in session of Family Makerspace! Come along with your whānau for creating beautiful flower-shaped decorative lamps.
Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre Sunday 12 November
There will also be another Diwali Performance - Bharathnatyam by Anuradha Ambalavanar on Sunday 12 November 2.30pm to 3.30pm at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre. Following this performance, we will be having a Diwali themed family craft as well.
Indian Social and Cultural Club is organising a big Diwali event in North Hagley Park on Saturday 21 October, 2pm to 9.30pm. There will be multi-cultural performances including Indian classical, cultural, folk, and Bollywood dances from different parts of India. There will be food stalls, henna design booths and sale of traditional clothing and handicraft items. It is an alcohol-free event to ensure it a safe place for family with small kids. There will also be fireworks displays.
Canterbury Indian Women’s Group and Bhartiya Samaj Canterbury are hosting Diwali Festival at Riverside Market on Saturday 4 November from 4pm where people can engage in activities in different workshops such as Saree draping, Henna painting, Rangoli art, and Card making. There will also be cultural performances on that day.
A podcast on Diwali was recorded on 6 Oct at 1pm at Tūranga Library.
More about Diwali and Indian culture
Diwali and Indian resources in our collection are given below.