Traditional and modern dance wowed audiences at Whanganui's 20th Diwali Cultural Night on Saturday.

Women were graceful and fluid in their colourful costumes, while men showed power and precision.

Young Whanganui High School dancer Sunny Kumar, also known as Whanganui's Michael Jackson, had the audience clapping in rhythm. The Sons of Samoa were another hit, organiser Vijeshwar Prasad said.

The cultural acts started late, with an estimated audience of about 400 waiting and eating the ethnic food on sale. People came from as far away as Wellington, Hastings, Levin, Palmerston North, Hawera and Marton and included Pakistan's High Commissioner.

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The announcers were Vikram Batra, who took the opportunity to try some stand-up comedy, and Evelyn Sem. Lunch vouchers to Whanganui restaurant the Tasty Indian were given out, and the performances finished at 9.30.

Mr Prasad, the president of the Multicultural Council of Rangitikei/Whanganui, was pleased with the event. It was funded by $2000 from the Whanganui Community Foundation.