While exploring Auckland on my second day, I stumbled upon Auckland’s Diwali Festival. Diwali, also known as the “Festival of Lights”, is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs. I had a wonderful time watching the diverse entertainment from the many regions of India, eating delicious and inexpensive food (6 chili bites for $2.50CDN) and participating in my favorite activity – people watching.
As I watched the Hare Krishnas perform, I was approached by one of their disciples, Nick. Nick, in his early twenties, was from Australia and while visiting New Zealand last year he, as he put it, “got hooked up with these guys”. I asked for his two minute explanation of the Hare Krishna philosophy and I am still no further ahead. Nick has some work to do.
I returned to the Jucy Hotel for a little rest and relaxation and decided to check the Diwali schedule on-line for activities that evening – BOLLYWOOD COMPETITION!
When I arrived there were thousands of people around the stage and I stood back and observed. I could see dark clouds approaching and as it began to spit rain, the crowd quickly ran for cover. Not afraid of a little precipitation, I took a position much closer to the stage. As the shower subsided, and the next act took stage, the crowd reassembled and I found myself in the middle of about five thousand Indian nationals who were longing for the motherland.
With each act, the crowd got more excited than teenagers at a Justin Beiber concert. It was an amazing experience. Their pride in their heritage was heartwarming and overwhelming. I found myself next to a small group of other tourists and, not knowing the words to any of the songs, we nodded our heads to the beat and soaked up the experience. We looked at each other in disbelief at what was happening around us. I’ve never been to a rock concert in North America, but now I understand the energy – an energy that was fueled not by substances, but national pride. Happy Diwali!