Diwali 2017 at Christchurch City Libraries

To celebrate Diwali 2017 Christchurch City Libraries will be holding a variety of events including live performances, story times and craft making sessions.

What is Diwali?

Diwali or dīpāvali, the festival of lights, is traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs with the rising of the new moon at the end of the month, Ashvin. However, in a country as diverse as India, where people from many different faiths live side by side, the festival is not limited to one particular faith for it represents the victory of light over darkness and the triumph of wisdom over ignorance. Throughout cities and villages the darkness will be symbolically turned back. Clay lamps (diya) will be lit in homes and shops, fireworks will be released into the sky and the streets will be filled with music.

Diwali display at Linwood Library 2016.

Dance performances

We have two local dance groups performing on Saturday 14 October at three different library venues.

Revathi Performing Arts will perform a puṣpāñjali (welcoming dance) set to Carnatic (Southern Indian) music at:

Hornby Library                                               11.30 am to 11.45 am

Te Hapua Halswell Centre                              1.30 pm to 1.45 pm

Christchurch Hindi Class performing group will showcase a traditional dance at:

Linwood Library                                              1pm to 2pm.

Rāmāyaṇa

Diwali is also closely associated with one of the great epics of India, the Rāmāyaṇa. The focus of the epic is the journey of Prince Rāma, an avatar (incarnation) of the god, Viṣṇu, to rescue his wife, princess Sītā, who was abducted by Rāvaṇa, the king of rākṣasas (demons). Aided by an army of monkeys and bears, led by the monkey general, Hanumān, Rāma laid siege to the island kingdom of Lanka and eventually defeated Rāvaṇa. Returning to their kingdom of Ayodhyā, Rāma and Sītā were greeted by people who lined their route with lamps to welcome them back. The lighting of lamps at Diwali is said to represent the lights guiding the couple back to their kingdom.

The Rāmāyaṇa will feature in our Super Saturday Storytime at Upper Riccarton Library on Saturday 21 October.

Lighting candles and clay lamps during Diwali night. Wikimedia Commons.

Find out more

  • See our Diwali programme list for further Diwali related events at our libraries.
  • Find resources about Diwali in our collection.
  • Watch a short film about the Rāmāyaṇa.

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