Wanted - Auckland's best Indian performers and stallholders to make the Auckland Diwali Festival 2021 a success.
The festival is one of the country's biggest cultural events, celebrating Indian culture and the diverse Indian communities, but the event could not go ahead as a mass event last year due to Covid-19 concerns.
Before 2018, performers from India and South Asia were brought in for the event that draws crowds of more than 60,000 each year but the focus now is to nurture local talent.
Organisers Auckland Unlimited are hoping to bring the event back to Aotea Square and Queen St for its 20th anniversary as a two-day event on October 30 and 31. Last year, it was observed as a community celebration over multiple locations over three weeks.
Urban Desi, a dance crew comprising five women and a man, is one of the first to have registered to perform at this year's festival.
"We share two things in common, we all love dancing and we all love Bollywood music," said group leader Sneha Rajiv.
"I think this is an opportunity for us to bring out and share our culture, and to show that we don't need international performers because we have so much local talent.
"It's a great way to put ourselves forward and say, look, we are here and each time you have an event, you don't have to look thousands of miles away, you've got us here."
Rajiv, 28, has been dancing at the Auckland Diwali Festival since it started 20 years ago.
"I just love performing and each time I go on stage, I just become another person," she said.
"All of us in Urban Desi are so excited because we haven't done it for so long, and it's a great time for us to come together, especially after Covid. I'm just hoping many others from our communities would do the same."
Auckland Unlimited head of major business events Richard Clarke said the hunt is on for Auckland's best producers of Indian food, crafts and performance as registration opens for festival performers and stallholders.
"Over the past two decades, the festival has seen huge growth in the capability of local talent and the professionalism, choreography, music and costumes of performers now is of an incredibly high standard, and we are continuing to nurture this," Clarke said.
"More than 1000 performers usually take part in the festival, with a mix of established and up-and-coming performers of all ages on show."
Applications for performers close on Friday August 6, while stallholders have until Sunday August 8 to apply.
"We are looking for a wide range of contemporary, traditional, classical or folk Indian performers to feature on various stages, or as part of the street performances, and of course there is also the highly competitive Radio Tarana Bollywood Dance competition for groups to take part in," Clarke said.
"We are also looking for retail and food stallholders to showcase a myriad of fresh flavours, exotic spices and aromas, handmade crafts and jewellery, from all corners of India."
Clarke said the festival was an opportunity for Indian-based Auckland businesses, organisations and individuals to showcase their food, arts, crafts and products. Details can be found on www.aucklandnz.com/cultivate/diwali