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.

Diwali – The Festival of Lights

Do you wish to extend your appetite beyond your usual Indian takeaway order? Perhaps you are intrigued by the rhythmic dance moves which so often feature in Bollywood movies? Or maybe you need to learn some basic Hindi for a friend’s wedding in Mumbai? This week marks the celebration of Diwali. Here at Christchurch City Libraries we have many resources on offer to help you learn more about this auspicious occasion and displays and crafts on at libraries.

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.

As a result of the Indian diaspora, the festival is now celebrated worldwide. The first Indians to settle in Christchurch arrived in the 1850s with Sir John Cracroft Wilson (though it is possible that Indians working on whaling ships may have visited the region at an earlier date). Although the number of migrants started to grow in the first half of the twentieth century, Diwali celebrations in Christchurch initially remained limited to small community and family events.

In recent years the Indian Social and Cultural Club (ISCC) has been responsible for bringing Diwali to the wider Christchurch community with their Diwali – Indian Festival of Lights event. The first public celebration was held in 2010 at Victoria Square. Since then the festival has been held at Horncastle Arena. Sponsored by Singapore Airlines, it has grown in size and variety. This year’s event is on Saturday 22 October, from 3 to 9pm.

Diwali

For many, a highlight of the Christchurch event are the dance performances. Various local groups, from university student dance clubs to dance companies, whose performances range from traditional to Bollywood fusion, take part. Many of these groups spend months preparing their routines for the event.

Another draw card is the variety of food available. Tired of tikka masala? Then try street stall food such as pav bhaji and aloo chaat. Sweets are also an important part of Diwali. Make an effort to track down gulab jamun (dumplings soaked in a sugary rose water syrup), or barfi (sweetened milk mixed with pistachios and left to set).

While at the festival you will hear many different languages being spoken. In fact, there are 122 major languages and 1599 minor languages to be found in India. However, Christchurch City Libraries can prepare you for this challenge. All Christchurch City Libraries users are free to use Mango Languages to learn a range of Indian languages including Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.

Diwali Festival 2015
Diwali Festival, Horncastle Arena, 24 October 2015. Flickr Diwali-2015-IMG_0873.jpg

Christchurch City Libraries has prepared a list of selected titles, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as a selection of movies and audio CDs, which can offer an introduction to the vibrant cultures of India.

  • Find resources about Diwali in our collection
  • Read about Diwali in the World Book Reference Centre
  • View Diwali photos in our Flickr collection.

Diwali 2015

Diwali Display at Hornby Library
Diwali Display at Hornby Library, HO-Diwali-2015.DSC2090.jpg

Diwali is one of the major Hindu festivals. It is celebrated in all parts of India, where it is a national holiday, and in Hindu communities worldwide.

Diwali takes its name from “Diyas” (lamps) which symbolically remove the darkness and awaken the light. Clay lamps traditionally filled with mustard oil, or candles of different colours like red, green, and yellow are lit and placed around the entrances of houses.

Families spend days cleaning and decorating their homes in preparation for Diwali. The idea is to fill the houses with lights and remove the gloom and darkness. The preparation of traditional sweets to share with families and friends makes the festive spirit even merrier.

The first thing we do on Diwali day is get up early, wear nice new clothes, and offer fruit and sweets to family members. Later we visit friends to exchange greetings and sweets. The concept is to get everyone one in a festive and relaxed mood. The celebration generally concludes with spectacular displays of fireworks – these play a significant role in increasing the charms of Diwali among all age groups.

Diwali 2015 posterDiwali in New Zealand is known as the Indian Festival of Lights, and has become of the biggest regular yearly events in Christchurch.

This year the official celebration will take place on Saturday 24 October at Horncastle Arena from 3pm till 9pm (and probably later!). It will be an event where you can expect lots of entertainment showcasing the culture and arts from various states of India. There will be food and trade stalls, and of course fireworks so that all the people in Christchurch can enjoy experiencing the Diwali festive spirit.

Hope to see you there!

Rema
Hornby  Library

Light your October with Diwali

Diwali 2014 posterDiwali is an ancient Indian festival of lights. It is usually celebrated in the autumn season in India.The literal translation of Diwali (also often spelled Divali or Dipavali) is an array of lights.

On Diwali night people light up candles and lamps and decorate their houses. The festive mood brings happiness and harmony among people as they exchange presents and sweets among friends and family members. The celebration generally concludes with a spectacular displays of fireworks.

Diwali was always the festival that I eagerly looked forward to every year when I was a child. Children in India thoroughly enjoy the festivities. As well as helping to decorate the house, lighting lamps and (especially for boys) lighting fireworks, they receive lots of sweets and new dresses and get plenty of time to play along with visiting family friends and relatives.

Christchurch will be celebrating Diwali on Saturday, the 25th of October 2014 at the Horncastle Arena. The festivities include various cultural performances, food and craft stalls, workshops, and exhibitions. Now regularly held every year, the Diwali festival has become one of the most popular events in October attracting huge crowds. Make sure you don’t miss out on the fun!

Photo of Diwali display at Hornby Library Photo of performers at Diwali Festival 2013

Rema
Hornby Library