A Hindu priest has slammed and Auckland Council controlled organisation's decision not to change the dates for the Auckland Diwali Festival as "arrogant" and "disrespectful".
The Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development yesterday confirmed it will be sticking to October 17 and 18 for the event, three weeks before the actual Diwali day.
Traditionally, Diwali is celebrated 20 days after Navratri, a nine-night observance sacred to Hindu women.
By sticking to the original dates, it would mean that celebrations would be clashing with Navratri.
"Both are religious events that has to happen on specific dates, and one before the other," said Shivanand Prasad, a Deepak Ramayan Mandali priest.
"You cannot have a clash of dates, because that's like having Easter Sunday celebrations on Good Friday."
Mr Prasad warned that Ateed's decision may result with many from the Hindu community boycotting or avoiding the city's Diwali festival.
"The decision is very much disrespectful to Hindu practice, and I think it's also very arrogant," he said.
"They won't move Christmas, and to us, this is also a religious and cultural thing, and we don't want the council to be biased."
Indian international student Inesh Raju, who will be celebrating his first Diwali in Auckland, said he will not be attending the Ateed event.
"From the organiser's lack of understanding, I don't think it will be a Diwali event but a joke event," Mr Raju said.
Ateed external relations general manager Steve Armitage said the organisers had met with community leaders twice, on June 9 and 18, to discuss the timing of the festival.
A number of alternative dates were explored, including changing the date, duration and location, he said.
"However, venue availability and suitability, logistical and budget implications, as well as international performer availability, has meant that changing the dates and times for the 2015 festival has not been possible at this late stage," Mr Armitage said.
"The timing...was agreed in consultation with the Asia New Zealand Foundation to allow performers from India to showcase their talent at both the Auckland and Wellington Diwali festivals."
Mr Armitage said Ateed affirmed a commitment to closer engagement with Auckland's various Indian communities and organisations on scheduling and planning for future festivals.
Two Hindu Council leaders contacted by the Herald confirmed the meetings, but would not comment on the council-controlled organisation's decision.
Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, follows the lunar calendar, and would this year fall on November 11.
The Auckland Diwali Festival will be held at Aotea Square, and highlights include cultural performances, workshops, Indian food and a fireworks display.