By: Gurbir Singh                                                                                        Freelance feature Writer & Journalist                                        

The sound of drums, ear-deafening Bollywood music, riot of fashion colours and glittering gold adornments, smells of samosa, and several thousand people, brought  Auckland’s Aotea Square and parts of Queen Street alive on 14th and 15th October to mark the colourful celebration of the Indian festival of light, Diwali or Deepawali.

This annual family festival showcased Bollywood dances, bhangra, gidda performed by young children and professional groups, arts, crafts, food stalls, and street theatre. It was followed by fireworks.

Favourite groups of the festival that enthralled the audience, were Bhangra Auckland Da, Raunak Punjab Dee, the Khottey Sikkey dance group and the Kalika Kala Kendra dancers from Ahmednagar, renowned for their scintillating folk dance, ‘Lavani’.

Jacinda Arden, leader of the Labour Party found time to join the celebrations despite the ongoing negotiations with other parties to form a coalition government.

Two Indian-origin MPs from the National party,Kanwaljit Bakshi and Parmjeet Parmar were, however, were not present in this important Indian festival.

Auckland Diwali festival has been held every year since 2002 and was initially started by local Indian communities to raise awareness of traditional Indian culture.

In New Zealand, more than 155,000 people identify themselves with the Indian ethnic group and 146,500 of these live in Auckland.