Shining a light on Tauranga’s Diwali

Aryananda Rajesh, 6, and Swara Khot, 8, in traditional costume, getting ready for Tauranga’s Diwali festival of Lights. Photo: Chris Callinan.

Tauranga is invited to celebrate light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair at the city’s Diwali Festival of Lights tonight.

Event manager Payal Raj says this year’s event is a little smaller – but the celebrations will be just as important.

And they will glow brightly for a good cause – it’s a fundraiser for Tauranga’s first Indian Hindu temple being built at 108 Whiore Ave.

“The construction is almost complete, but more funds are needed for fittings like carpets and furniture,” says Payal.

“Before this temple was built I had to go to Auckland for my prayers, whereas any time of the day I can go now and pray. And the temple will have a priest.”

The festival is from 5pm-9.30pm tomorrow night at Greerton Marist Sports Club Hall, 117 Oropi Rd – and Payal invites all people of Tauranga’s multicultural society along.

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in spring in the southern hemisphere. It sees Hindus taking part in prayer, fasting, and spending time placing lights to shine on top of houses, temples and other buildings, and outside doors and windows.

“This is the most important festival of all for Indians – because it is the festival that celebrates good over evil – and it also marks the Indian New Year,” says Payal.

“It’s like Christians celebrate Christmas – we celebrate Diwali.”

Before Diwali night, people clean, renovate and decorate their homes and offices. On Diwali night, people dress up in new clothes or their best outfit, light up diyas – lamps and candles – inside and outside their home, and participate in family puja – prayers – typically to Lakshmi, the goddess of fertility and prosperity.

“Everyone dresses up. We buy a new coat, new ornaments, new jewellery because we believe the Goddess likes money and wealth and she visits our house.”

Payal says the public can dress up with Indian costumes – with prizes for the best-dressed for all age groups – and try some Indian food.

Kids’ activities will include creating Diwali cards, and making traditional rangoli designs, which are used to decorate houses and buildings at Diwali time. Food and snacks will be on sale.

Payal expects a lot of door sales to the event, and is hoping for at least 300 people to attend.

Ticket entry is a $5 donation for the temple. Tickets can be purchased from Indian Food and Spices, Novelty Food and Takeaways, Preet Food and Takeaways and Indo Spice Te Puke Punjab Market.

Donate to the temple at ANZ Bank, account no 060 0433 0509777-00 or visit www.sanatandharammandir.nz




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