Saturday, March 22, 2014

Waitakere Holi enhances integration and diversity

Waitakere Holi: Yet another success story of a community-held event

Thakur Ranjit Singh

RANG BARSE HOLI MELA -Showering of colours at  Holi Festival at Trusts Arena at Henderson, Auckland, New Zealand. This was organised by WAITAKERE INDIAN ASSOCIATION (WIA).
The mother of all Holi events in Auckland, Waitakere Holi Festival on Saturday, 22 March, 2014 went up to new heights by attracting wider non-Indian Kiwi community. At times and in certain areas of Trusts Arena (Trusts grounds) there appeared to be more Anglo Saxons (Europeans) than Indians at West Auckland’s Waitakere Indian Association (WIA) Holi Mela 2014

The commendable hard-working executives of Waitakere Indian Association with Minister for Social Development, PAULA BENNETT (forth from left)
Congratulations to the award-winning WIA for achieving greater younger Kiwi diversity than any other similar event. This is largely due to the fact that Waitakere Holi is one of the very few community organised events where the focus of the organisers is to achieve social goals of integration and better race-relations  while using the bridge of cultures and ethnic festivals to travel on this road to enhancing greater diversity and understanding.

The face of diversity at Waitakere Holi, having fun and playing colours of Holi.
Even weather Gods showered their blessings on the event - not with showers of rain but with blue skies and sunshine. Multiracial group of youths crowded the “ringside” stage area to jump to the occasion of dancing to traditional faag singing, Bollywood music of the performers or the thrilling DJ live music provided by the Neil Prasad Hdev. Young children filled their water guns and water bottles with coloured water and chased each other in the open grounds while the older ones smeared each other with coloured powers or gulaal, opening up their usual shyness.

The Community Face of Police: Police with revelers at Trusts Arena, during Waitakere Holi. Most are from Westlake Girls High School from North Shore. WIA is thankful to police for their presence during its events, exposing and enhancing  their community role.
The food stalls did brisk business, with Ravi’s Masala Dosa being a favourite and Waitakere Youth’s Westside United Football Club and WIA’s Women’s wing stall being equally popular. One stall provided freshly-crushed sugar cane juice, suitably flavoured to taste, while other food stalls were kept busy by the hungry crowd.

FOOD STALL: One of many food stalls that provided mouth-watering exotic Indian vegetarian food to the hungry crowd. Seen here are executives of Westside United Football Club, the youth wing of WIA.
The groups performing reflected on a fast-integrating Auckland, where make-up of them reflected diversity, as many non-Indians danced joyfully to tunes of Bollywood music. This was indeed a day of colours, with spices provided by Bollywood numbers. But the show was stolen by the little and pretty eight year old Joshlyn Grace, who performed on a powerful ‘Chennai Express’ Bollywood number with her aunt, Jocelyn Singh, both of who have been regular performers at WIA events. Talking about family groups, a team of sisters, Hasmita and Hasnita Singh, also thrilled the crowd with a powerful performance, together with other performers.

Sisters, HASNITA SINGH (left) and HASMITA SINGH, delivering a powerful Bollywood number, during Waitakere Holi Mela.
Politicians and community leaders mingled freely with their supporters and, took photos which are now gracing the pages of Facebook. With their good wishes and messages of inclusiveness on the theme of Holi were the Guests, Councillor Linda Cooper, Social Welfare Minister Paula Bennett, Labour List MP Rajen Prasad, National List MPs Kanwal Singh Bakshi and Cam Calder, Catherine Farmer, Chair of Whau Local Board, Ami Chand, founding executive of WIA and first Indian Whau Local Board Member,  Carmel Sepuloni of Labour, Harshadbhai Patel, President of NZ Indian Central Association (NZICA), Jeet Suchdev from Bhatiya Samaj and Bhikhu Bhana, Vice President, NZ Central Indian Association , among others. The President of WIA Naveen Prakash welcomed all, especially the multiracial crowd. ‘I am deeply honoured to have you all - people of different races in this event which has become an icon of Waitakere and Trusts Arena, like our Diwali. We have beautiful weather and hope you all have maximum fun with your families’, “he said.

Showering of colours, reflecting integration and diversity
The beauty of the event, the soul of West Auckland and a very youthful-looking Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, really came out as an ardent supporter, and admirer of WIA ‘Waitakere Indian Association is the best managed organisation, very transparent, run by credible people with credible leadership. This event signifying victory of good over evil and equality for mankind is the message we should all emulate, ‘she said, praising the commendable and exemplary events organised by WIA. It was pleasant and somewhat cheeky for yours truly (Thakur) to put red colours (Labour colour) on the Minister, instead of National’s blue colour. Whatever the political colours, Waitakere festival of colours made all forget their divisions and have fun together in a grand style, with Holi in the Park.

A youthful new-look Minister for Social Development, Westie Minister PAULA BENNETT, coloured in red: "Waitakere Indian Association is best-Happy Holi to all." Sitting in background is Councillor LINDA COOPER
Popularity and fame of WIA Holi has gone global, thanks to Facebook, and pictures that tell a thousand words. A couple, Malaysian born, Siva Prakash and his Indian wife Mona Vashistha from Dunedin spent some 20 hours on the road and three hours on Cook Strait ferry to arrive and partake in WIA Holi. They travelled by road from Dunedin to Picton, ferry to Wellington, Wellington to Napier and thence to Auckland in Waitakere Holi Mela. My relatives in Wellington, Ajay and Kashmir Kaur, with their children, wish to come and feel the atmosphere of WIA Holi some time, while my nephew from Modesto, USA, Aklesh Prasad also expressed his desire to attend our Holi. Prominent community worker and radio personality from Sydney, Tej Ram Prem, congratulated WIA for taking Holi of West Auckland to international level. That is the impact of WIA Holi that began with a humble beginning in 2005.

The visitors from Dunedin who spent a total of 23 hours to drive about 1,500 km to attend Waitakere Holi festival in  Auckland. Seen with the author, your truly, THAKUR RANJIT SINGH ( left) are: MONA VASHISTHA (center) and hubby SIVA PRAKASH
Many are already looking forward to the function next year, so powerful was the addiction and transmission of fun at Trusts Arena. Waitakere Indian Association hopes to see you all in greater numbers next year.

RANG BARSE: Showering of colours- Different races of people, playing with colours and dancing in the park, celebrating Holi at Waitakere Trusts Stadium

[About the Author: Thakur Ranjit Singh is a former executive of Waitakere Indian Association. He is a media commentator and runs his blog sites FIJI PUNDIT ( and KIWI PUNDIT (

Is it fog? Is it smog? Is it mist? Is it smoke? Is it tear gas? None of these - IT IS SHOWERING OF COLOURS AT WAITAKERE HOLI. at Trusts Arena, Auckland on Saturday, 22 March, 2014


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