Auckland's Diwali may be without the usual two-day event in central Auckland, but Anusha Kumar is excited about a more community-based celebration, which will last for three weeks.
festival will come in the form of about 100 experiences across the region from October 27 to November 14.
Seven venues, from Papatoetoe to Warkworth, will host the main programmes featuring cooking lessons, panel discussions, film nights and dance and music workshops. A further 20 community venues will host workshops and events.
Kumar, a child caregiver, will host a couple of the cooking classes, sharing some of her family recipes passed on to her by her grandmother.
"In the past people go to Diwali celebrations, but I think this year Covid is in a way making it special in Auckland because many people will be bringing a bit of Diwali home with them," she said.
The two sweet dishes that Kumar will share at her cooking classes are carrot halwa, an Indian pudding made with fresh carrots, milk, sugar, ghee and nuts, and rava appam, which are little golden sweet battered balls.
The 27-year-old, who moved to New Zealand last year, is celebrating her first Diwali in Auckland - her first away from her family in Hyderabad.
She said the two popular dessert dishes take her back to when she was a child helping her mother and grandmother in the kitchen during Diwali.
"I offer to help them also because I want to be the first to eat the carrot halwa and rava appam," she said.
Murali Kumar, secretary of the Auckland Tamil Association, said "it feels a little strange" to not have a mass gathering at Diwali - because the festival has always been celebrated in a big way in Auckland.
More than 60,000 people attend the festival every year, making it the third largest cultural event behind only the Auckland Lantern Festival and Pasifika.
His association will be holding its own Diwali celebration - or Deepavali as it is known to the Tamil community - a black-tie dinner event at Sorrento in the Park on November 8.
"We understand that Covid is still out there in the community, but we feel that there still needs to be a grand celebration for our community and also to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our association," he said.
"Deepavali or Diwali is the most celebrated festival among Indian communities, and is perhaps also the most important."
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the Diwali Festival was much loved by Aucklanders and important to the city's communities.
"While Covid-19 precautions mean that this year the festival won't feature the traditional gathering in Aotea Square, the more than 100 events across the region will provide ample opportunity to celebrate the Festival of Lights with friends and family, while ensuring everyone stays safe," Goff said.
The festival is delivered by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) in collaboration with Auckland Council and founding partner Asia NZ Foundation.
Ateed head of major events Richard Clarke said this year's festival will provide more ways for Aucklanders to enjoy and celebrate the festival.
"This year the programme is much more focused on sharing knowledge through cooking, dance and craft workshops and engaging in important discussions, as well as simply enjoying films, dance and music," Clarke said.
Highlights include a spice market, art and light installations, competitions, an evening of classical Indian music and an online Bollywood dance competition.
Auckland's landmarks, like the SkyCity and Harbour Bridge will be lit in celebration of Diwali.
There will also be three free-entry panel discussions exploring female empowerment (Ellen Melville Centre, October 30), modern-day arranged marriages (Te Oro, Glenn Innes, October 31) and being comfortable being Indian (Auckland War Memorial Museum, November 8).