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Auckland Diwali Festival this weekend

Press Release – ATEED

Bhaaji, tawa paneer, punjabi chole, and aloo tikki are on the menu this weekend in Auckland, as part of the annual celebrations of New Zealands largest vegetarian festival.

Auckland Diwali Festival this weekend

Enjoy incredible cuisine at New Zealand’s largest vegetarian festival

Bhaaji, tawa paneer, punjabi chole, and aloo tikki are on the menu this weekend in Auckland, as part of the annual celebrations of New Zealand’s largest vegetarian festival.

From popular, brightly coloured mithai (sweets) and spice-filled samosas, to traditional, mouth-watering curries, the 18th Auckland Diwali Festival will offer an opportunity for Aucklanders and visitors alike to sample a diverse range of culinary options from more than 40 food stallholders this weekend.

The festival is delivered by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) on behalf of Auckland Council, in conjunction with founding partner Asia New Zealand Foundation and is set to bring to life Aotea Square and Queen Street from midday until 9pm each day on Saturday, 12 and Sunday, 13 October.

In addition to the incredible array of Indian foods and sweets, festival goers will enjoy more than 50 hours’ live entertainment, with more than 200 performances throughout the weekend showcased across three areas – the Aotea Square Stage, the Queen St Stage and the Street Zone performances (corner of Queen and Wakefield). Next to the festival’s main space, audiences can learn about the 125-year history of New Zealand’s Indian communities at a photography exhibition Mokaa: the Land of Opportunity located in the foyer of Aotea Centre.

ATEED Auckland Diwali Festival Event Producer Leilana Meredith says: “Cultural festivals such as Auckland Diwali demonstrate to locals and visitors the breadth and depth of culinary experiences available in Tāmaki Makaurau. This festival is also an excellent celebration and chance to tell Auckland’s Indian stories to the wider community and beyond Auckland.

“I can’t wait to enjoy my favourite dish chole bhature, which has a combination of chana masala and bhatura, a mouth-watering fried bread made from maida. I encourage people to peruse the diverse range of stalls on offer this weekend and taste something new and different this Diwali.”

This is the second year Auckland Diwali Festival has partnered with the Auckland Regional Public Health and the food stallholders on food safety and healthier menus.

Not only will Diwali keep festivalgoers well-fed, for the first time in the festival’s 18-year history, some of the region’s landmarks will be lit up in the ‘Diwali’-themed colours of fuschia, yellow and orange.

The SKYCITY Sky Tower, Auckland Museum, Auckland Harbour Bridge, Viaduct Harbour and Queen Street will shine bright to showcase Indian culture in Auckland.

Full details available at

• The Auckland festival is inspired by Diwali or Deepavali (literally “row of lamps”), an important and ancient Indian festival colloquially known as The Festival of Lights.

• Originally a Hindu festival, Diwali is also celebrated by non-Hindus. It’s an official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji.

• Diwali signifies different things in different areas of India. For example, in Gujarat, the festival honours Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. In north India, it celebrates the god Rama’s homecoming to the kingdom of Ayodhya after a 14-year exile. To light his way and rejoice at his return, the people of Ayodhya illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas and fireworks.

• Indian families today celebrate Diwali with family and friends, dressing in traditional clothing, exchanging Indian sweets or gifts, cooking and eating together and enjoying song and dance. At night, homes are decorated with clay lamps and fireworks are set off. Families light lamps, candles and fireworks to symbolise the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and the renewal of life. Women decorate their hands or feet in henna and decorate the entrance to their homes with rangoli (decorations made from coloured powder, rice or flowers). The more religious families will start the day with prayer.

• The Auckland Diwali Festival was first held in 2002, initiated by the Asia New Zealand Foundation and delivered in partnership with the then-Auckland City Council (now Auckland Council). It was set up to raise public awareness of traditional Indian culture, and acknowledge the contribution made by the country’s Indian communities during their long history in New Zealand.

• The religious festival’s annual dates are decided by the lunar calendar. The Auckland Diwali Festival is timed to coincide with both the observance of Diwali and the Wellington Diwali Festival, with which it shares its founding partner, the Asia New Zealand Foundation, and visiting international performers.

• The sponsors and supporters of Auckland Diwali Festival are Harcourts, ASB, Asia New Zealand Foundation, Vector, Ford New Zealand, Resene, Mediaworks, Radio Tarana, Mithaiwala, Vodafone, Royal Enfield, Indian Tourism Sydney (Incredible India), Monstavision, Indian Weekender, Singapore Airlines.

• Further information on public transport to and from the festival is available via Auckland Transport here:

• Further information on bus diversions and closures around the festival is available via Auckland Transport here:


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