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Diwali: Friends celebrate the Festival of Lights in Whitianga.

By Pauline Stewart.

Niraj and Praveena and their family celebrated Diwali on Sunday, 12 November. Diwali is their most important annual festival as Hindus and they invited their friends of Indian descent from around the Coromandel, many of Fijian- Indian descent. They also invited local residents who have become their friends in the local community.

The beautiful costumes, the children, listening to one another’s stories and a shared feast of many colourful, tasty dishes made it a night of friendship to remember. Niraj and Praveena hope that Diwali might be something that can be celebrated on a bigger scale in Whitianga which is now their home and the home of quite a few Indian residents. Niraj (Ni) is the Head Chef at Mercury Bay Club.

Diwali, or Dipawali, is India's biggest and most important holiday of the year. The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness. This festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians. Diwali is the most significant festival for people of Indo-Fijian descent. Diwali has become a national festival that's also enjoyed by non-Hindu communities. Auckland has a big street festival attended by thousands.

Caption: Central to the festival is light and clay lamps are lit to celebrate the occasion.

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