Beautiful weather set a good omen for Rotorua's first public Diwali festival, held at Te Manawa on Saturday evening.
The Bay of Plenty (Rotorua) Indian Association president Shashi Patel said it was "absolutely awesome" to have an estimated crowd of "thousands" come to celebrate with them.
"We thoroughly enjoyed it ... the comments we received during the whole event was that it was just fantastic," Patel said.
Diwali, which translates from the Sanskrit as "row of lights", is a Hindu festival that celebrates the symbolism of the victory of light over darkness.
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Celebrants light candles, decorate their homes and gift sweets to family members.
The festival's entertainment included food stalls and dancers, including some from as far away as Dunedin.
"The entertainment was there right through from four o'clock right through till nine," Patel said.
"Some of our students from Rotorua who are now studying in Dunedin, they brought a crew down ... they travelled from Auckland, Wellington, all over."
He said despite the short amount of time to prepare, he felt it had gone very well.
"All in all, it was a very successful event."
Patel said he wasn't sure of exact crowd numbers, but he thought the number of people who attended was in the "thousands".
There were so many people that a couple of the food stalls sold out, he said, "so a lot more people than I guess they would have expected as well".
The one thing they wanted to do with the festival was to keep the entertainers and food stalls local, which they managed to achieve, he said.
Patel said there were so many requests by attendees to be part of the entertainment that he was already in talks to hold another one next year.
He said this festival had been staged with the backing of the Rotorua Lakes Council, and if the local Indian Association could get the council's support again, they would "most definitely" hold another one next year.
"We'd like to do it as an annual event. It brought so many families together."