Hosted by Minister Melissa Lee, and facilitated by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, 120 attendees including members of Parliament, esteemed guests and notable community leaders gathered to celebrate the festivals of Diwali and the Hindu New Year.
As per tradition, the event was inaugurated by the lighting of a lamp, ‘deep pragatya’. Thereafter, the ‘Shanti Path’, a prayer for universal peace, was sung. This was followed by the ‘thal gaan’, recitation of hymns to sanctify the various dishes offered to God. All then joined in performing the ritual of arti, the ceremonial waving of lighted wicks in honor of God.
The chief guests included His Excellency Muktesh Kumar Pardeshi from the High Commission of India; Mellissa Lee, National MP; Dr. Deborah Russell, Labour MP; former MP Mr. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi; Inspector Rakesh Naidoo, Head of NZ Police Ethnic Services; and Vanisa Dhiru, Commissioner for UNESCO & National Library & Internet NZ.
Addressing the audience during this evening event, Dr. Deborah Russell also commended the BAPS centers in New Zealand and worldwide for their services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.