Call for Diwali to be made public holiday

Diwali celebrations in Dunedin. File photo: Peter McIntosh
Diwali celebrations in Dunedin. File photo: Peter McIntosh
A Hindu community group is calling for Diwali to be made a public holiday in New Zealand starting from 2022.

The president of Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, said that the government needs to revisit its public holiday policies as the country's demography has changed.

He said it's unfair for the Hindu community to be at work or school on their most popular festival and making it a public holiday would be a "a step in the positive direction".

Zed said that awareness about other religions created by such holidays like Diwali would strengthen cohesion and unity in the country.

This year's Diwali falls on Saturday, November 14. In 2022, Diwali falls on Monday, October 24.

Wellington is celebrating the festival from 3pm today at the city's waterfront with food, music and dance, arts and firework display.

On the other hand, Murali Kumar, event producer at Communities Action Trust which organises the Wellington event, said he was not thinking about make Diwali a public holiday.

"We've got a great festival once a year, where the council in Auckland as well as in Wellington, local authorities and different communities come together celebrating Diwali, so this is really a good indication of how important this festival is ... I think that's where we need to focus and develop on," he said.

Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is the biggest, most popular and vibrant cultural celebration for Wellington's local Indian and South East Asian communities.

The lighting of lamps at this ancient festival symbolises the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and the renewal of life.






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