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by Greta Yeoman

Timaru residents attending next month’s Diwali celebrations will be taken on a cultural journey around India, the event’s organiser says.

South Canterbury Indian Cultural Society president Geeta Muralidharan said the November 10 event at the Southern Trust Events Centre would be a mix of classical, folk and modern Indian dance and music, along with plenty of food.

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is one of the main Indian cultural celebrations and has been marked by the society through a variety of events for several years.

However, this year’s celebrations would be the biggest yet for Timaru, Mrs Muralidharan said.

Those attending would travel through India on a “cultural route” encompassing several states of the country and the dance and musical styles of each area.

A “traditional Indian couple” would guide a “Kiwi tourist” throughout the event, informing the audience through a drama of the different styles of each state.

Traditional dances, folk performances and Bollywood dance styles would be included in the evening’s entertainment.

Mrs Muralidharan said she was pleased with the large number of performers in this year’s Diwali celebrations, which included many children and both Indian and New Zealand-born performers.

Professional Bollywood dancers from Christchurch would be attending – with the chance for audience participation – and two young girls from Oamaru would come to perform a folk dance.

A group of Indian women working on a dairy farm in Morven, south of Timaru, were even arranging their shifts so they could come and perform in the event, Mrs Muralidharan said.

She expected the 500 tickets would sell quickly and encouraged interested South Canterbury residents to buy tickets early so they didn’t miss out.

The price of the ticket included an Indian meal, catered by Punjab Indian Restaurant.

Doors would open at 5.15pm and everyone needed to be seated by 5.45pm so they did not interrupt the official welcoming of the guests of honour at 6pm.

Mrs Muralidharan said while Indian migrants to New Zealand learned about Kiwi culture, they also kept their own traditions and wanted to share them with their communities.

“It’s give and take.”

Tickets for the Timaru Diwali celebrations can be bought at Bin Inn in Dee St or Bombay Magic Dairy & Indian Takeaways in Wai-iti Rd. Adults $20, children (5-12) $15 and under-5s free. There will be no door sales.