Diwali was celebrated in an entertaining, delicious and joyful fashion at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology yesterday.

Indian students and staff, including several international students, put on a colourful showcase of food, dancing, music, singing, henna design and more at the Windermere campus to celebrate the festival of light.

Karitha Magesan, team leader of international administration at the institute, was born in India and has lived in New Zealand for 25 years.

She said while Tauranga did not have the big public Diwali celebrations like those in Auckland, the festival would still be celebrated in smaller ways in homes and communities around the city.

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Karitha Magesan with some ladoo, her favourite Indian sweet treat for Diwali. Photo / George Novak
Karitha Magesan with some ladoo, her favourite Indian sweet treat for Diwali. Photo / George Novak

Magesan said the spring festival was a family occasion. Traditions included prayer and spiritual practices, delivering sweet treats to neighbours and letting off fireworks.

"It is a time of happiness, family, sharing and caring.

"Traditionally you would make sweets, sometimes a month in advance, and share them with people, going round and giving them to your neighbours and friends."

Magesan said her favourite treat was ladoo (balls made from chickpeas and sugar syrup).

She said the theme of Diwali was light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

"To me, Diwali means that no matter what you face, the light will always win."

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It was great that the festival fell close to Guy Fawkes Day in New Zealand, so fireworks were available, she said.

Harneet Sokhal dancing at the Diwali festivities at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Tauranga. Photo / George Novak
Harneet Sokhal dancing at the Diwali festivities at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology in Tauranga. Photo / George Novak

Indian international students Palvinder Anju and Herry Sokhal said they looked forward to Diwali as an opportunity to see friends and family and meet new people.

Anju said she loved the dancing aspect of the celebrations, while Sokhal said the traditions of firecrackers, giving gifts and wearing new clothes were her highlights.

Toi Ohomai executive director of student experience and engagement Patrick Brus said the institute had more than 1000 Indian students, representing about 60 per cent of its international intake.

About 80 per cent of the students were based at its Rotorua campus, which put on a big Diwali display each year, and the were rest in Tauranga.

Kinni Dhaliwal singing a song about a son missing his mother and being thankful for her at the Diwali celebrations. Photo / George Novak
Kinni Dhaliwal singing a song about a son missing his mother and being thankful for her at the Diwali celebrations. Photo / George Novak

Diwali

- Originated as a Hindu festival, but is also celebrated by other religions including Sikhs and Jains
- Diwali, also known as Deepavali, literally means "a row of lamps"
- An official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji
- In different areas of India it honours different gods and legends
- In general, it signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and renewal of life.
- In 2017 150,000 people attended Diwali festivals in Auckland and Wellington.

Source: Asia New Zealand Foundation