The bright colours, sounds and art of India, along with enticing smells and tastes, will be featured in Hamilton on Saturday and everyone is invited to the annual Diwali Festival.

The free festival is at Claudelands Park, at the corner of Heaphy Terrace and Boundary Road in Hamilton East. It runs from 12.30pm to 8.30pm when there will be a fireworks display.

Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, originated as a Hindu festival but is today celebrated by non-Hindus and Indians from around the world.

One of the organisers, Subhashni Sharma of the Hamilton Sanatan Trust, says it will be an exciting and colourful event with stalls selling a range of traditional foods and crafts.


There will be singers and dancers in traditional dress performing to Indian music. Performances will run from 2.30pm.

This will be the fifth year the trust has organised Diwali celebrations in Hamilton.

"It is like our New Year's day — houses are cleaned and decorated and people dress in their best clothes and share food and sweets," Mrs Sharma said.

It is also important as an education for the younger Indian community.

"We still follow our culture and keep it alive whether we are in India, South Africa, Sri Lanka or New Zealand," says Mrs Sharma, who — with her husband Aman Sharma — is originally from Fiji.

The origins of Diwali is as a Hindu religious festival celebrating the god Rama's homecoming to the kingdom of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile.

"Diwali celebrates his return. The glow of the diya (clay oil lamps) guiding and welcoming him back and is at the centre of Diwali, along with the fireworks," Mrs Sharma said.

Today, as a widely celebrated festival, Diwali signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and renewal of life.


On Saturday, there will be diya which visitors can decorate and the tradition art form of rangoli will be on display.

In rangoli, patterns are created on the floor or the ground using materials such as colored rice, powder, coloured sand or flower petals. As well as being decorative, the designs are considered to bring good luck.

Mrs Sharma says that more volunteers are always welcome to help run the event. Email or check out the Hamilton Sanatan Trust's Facebook page.

Although Hamilton's public Diwali Festival is on Saturday, the actual festival's dates are decided by the lunar calendar.

This year it falls on Wednesday, November 7.