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‘It feels like we belong here’

Back, from left: Dhruva and Bela Reid and son Vinod Bihari. Front, from left: Prabhjot Saraswati, Daksha Mistry, Davin and Dhruvi Patel and Arya Rajesh get ready to help bring the Tauranga Diwali Festival to life.

Friday will be a memorable Diwali celebration for Tauranga youth Arya Rajesh, Dhruvi Patel and Davin Patel.

A public event filled with vibrant colour, energetic dancing, and culturally rich music will roll out at the Historic Village.

This means a lot to 11-year-old Dhruvi Patel, who will be performing at the Tauranga Diwali Festival alongside Masti Dance Group.

She says it's events like this that give her a sense of belonging in Tauranga.

“It makes me feel so happy because we are dancing about India, about our country.

“We can celebrate it here in Tauranga, and it feels like we belong here rather than just in India.”

The event will showcase Bharatanatyam, Bollywood and Punjabi dancing from multiple groups across the Bay of Plenty.

Ten-year-old Arya, who will be dancing solo at the festival, says the celebration is special to her because Krishna is her god.

"The god of light is Krishna, so since they represent light, Diwali is a really special celebration for me.

"I also love dancing on the stage and getting a lot of make-up on. I have already done five other performances so it's not that scary."

Directly translated from Sanskrit, Diwali means ‘abundant lights’.

The festival celebrates light and wisdom overcoming dark oppression, violence and wickedness.

Founders of One Love Charity, Dhruva and Bela Reid are the driving forces behind the event.

The couple, who are not of Indian descent, are eager to raise awareness about the significance of Diwali in Tauranga.

"The festival is designed for everyone - from any race, age or faith. It's totally inclusive for all communities," Bela says.

"Cultural events like this help educate people on a higher purpose in life. We believe that Indian culture is rich in that," adds Dhruva.

Bela hopes the event will unite different communities in Tauranga, whilst also connecting the younger south-Asian generation with their heritage.

"We are committed to bringing a unique cultural experience to the audience, and that includes giving the performers a voice in the community. It starts with the children.

"Sharing this celebration with the wider community and bringing in vibrant dance and music links with an overall kindness concept," she says.

Eight-year-old Davin Patel from the Masti Dance Group has been performing for three years.

He reassures The Weekend Sun he isn’t nervous about dancing, saying he knows exactly what to do.

“We get a bit nervous before we dance, but when we get on stage it’s just exciting.”

The free event is being held on Friday, October 25, from 4pm-10pm at the Tauranga Historic Village.

For more information, visit the Tauranga Diwali Festival Facebook page.

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