Members of the Indian community from around New Zealand gathered at Parliament last night, Wednesday 7 November, to celebrate the Indian festival of Diwali. The event was hosted by the Ethnic Affairs Minister, Judith Collins. She warmly welcomed the gathering of around 250 which included the Prime Minister, John Key, the Parliamentary Private Secretary, Melissa Lee, other parliamentarians, dignitaries, community leaders and those………… from a range of ethnic communities. The Director of the Office of Ethnic Affairs Mervin Singham opened the celebration. “In a multicultural society, it’s important to develop bonds of respect, friendship and understanding across people from diverse backgrounds. Without these, we cease to be communities,” he says.
The Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand, His Excellency Avanindra Kumar Pandey told the audience that New Zealand is a very welcoming place and the remarkable warmth of its people helps to cement the friendship between the two countries. The President of the New Zealand Indian Central Association, Paul Singh Bains noted that Diwali is celebrated around the world and is a time when family takes centre stage and people have time to reflect on their achievements. The lighting of the traditional diya – or lamp, he said, signifies love, joy, pride and hope. A traditional floor decoration, or Rangoli, made from coloured powder formed a vibrant feature at the entrance to the Banquet Hall. It was created by a Wellington interfaith youth group and supported by the Hindu Council of New Zealand.