Weekend festival of culture and performers
Bright colours, exotic music and delicious food will transform the Viaduct Harbour this weekend for the Diwali Festival of Lights.
Dance teacher and choreographer Neelima Kaushal and her students have spent weeks preparing for the event.
Ms Kaushal holds community dance lessons in Papatoetoe, Mt Roskill and New Lynn where students learn Bollywood dance and the northern Indian Kathak style.
“It’s an art that I hope will be continued and not die out. It’s my gift to the next generation of kids and I hope they will pass it on,” she says.
The Diwali festival is the ideal opportunity to showcase their talent and cultural backgrounds, she says.
“We look forward to it every year.”
Ms Kaushal has been involved with the Auckland festival since it started five years ago.
She and her students won the first Bollywood dancing competition and have competed every year since.
They also take part in the fashion show and other dance categories.
“We do all sorts of cultural performances all year. On average it’s at least two performances a month.”
While Bollywood dance is an easier style to learn, Kathak is more skill based and Ms Kaushal says it takes about seven years of training to master.
“The tempo is faster than the other styles and the costume is quite different.”
She travels to India every year to buy traditional silk costumes.
Ms Kaushal, who is also a fulltime teacher at Hay Park School, has been teaching dance for about 20 years.
“I’m very passionate about it. It’s a good form of expression of creativity.”
She and a group of her Bollywood dance students are heading to Sydney at the end of the year to take part in a dance competition for an Indian television programme.
Arts, culture and recreation committee chairman Greg Moyle says it’s the first time the festival has been held at the Viaduct and he is looking forward to the festivities.
“I’m not sure if I’ll take part in the Bollywood dancing, but I’m interested to watch it.”
He says the festival is one of the events that sets Auckland apart from the rest of the country and celebrates the city’s diversity.
Diwali will be held tomorrow and Sunday from noon to 10pm.
Entry is free.
Vibrant festival: Dance teacher Neelima Kaushal gets ready to perform at the Diwali festival.