Local News

Your introductory guide to Diwali

The ancient Hindu and Sikh festival Diwali starts on November 12 and lasts for five days. We asked some of the hosts of Indian radio station Humm FM what the holiday means to them

Sandy Sekhon, Drive Show co-host and assistant content director

What does Diwali mean to you?

Hindus and Sikhs around the globe celebrate the festival of lights, and the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. Diwali brings back good memories of my hometown in Punjab, India. It’s a day when I connect with my loved ones. The vibe is so pure and full of positivity that it motivates you to start things afresh.

How do you celebrate?

Weeks before Diwali, there used to be a process of cleaning the whole house, reorganising and then decorating it. My house used to be lit up with lamps and lights, and relatives visited. There’s a lot of exchanging of gifts and sweets, and we all enjoy delicious feasts.

In my household, we also believe in donations during this time. When I was a kid, my brother and I used to compete with our neighbours to see whose fireworks lasted the longest and went the highest. Growing up, I had a change of mind about polluting the air and said no to fireworks. Maturity hits!

Is there a tradition you’d like to see everyone embrace?

I would love to see all Kiwis embrace the message of Diwali, of celebrating good things. New Zealand is a beautiful country, with lovely people and so many cultures – it’s amazing. I see New Zealand as my home away from home.

What’s your favourite Diwali dish?

Rice kheer – where you slow-cook rice, whole milk and sugar to perfection.

Pooja Kumar, Breakfast Show co-host and music scheduler

What does Diwali mean to you?

It’s the best time that I can spend with my family – creating memories, learning about and practising my culture, and passing it on to my kids. It’s like reliving my childhood when I used to do so many fun things with my parents. Now my role has changed and as a mother, I get to be there for my kids while celebrating this very important and special festival.

How do you celebrate?

For starters, we all get together and make yummy sweets and snacks from scratch, a few days prior. We also go shopping and buy new clothes and matching jewellery so we can look our best on the day. Everyone in the family helps to clean every corner of the house and then to decorate it with lights. We make rangoli [patterns] at the entrance of the house and also place a toran [a hanging made of mango leaves and marigold] at the main door. The most important aspect for us is sitting together as a family and performing our rituals in the evening of Diwali, where we thank God and ask for forgiveness, and pray for good health, positivity and prosperity.

After all the rituals, we sit together and enjoy the sweets, snacks and food that we prepared, and we light diyas [lamps] and candles to brighten the night, which represents the triumph of good over evil.

Is there a tradition you’d like to see everyone embrace?

Dressing up in their best attire and mingling with friends, family and neighbours.

What is your favourite dish?

Dal vada – it’s a yummy snack made from split peas. I love it so much, it’s a must-have.

Kashika Singh, Morning Show announcer and sales & promotions director

What does Diwali mean to you?

A reunion with heaps of family and friends, all wearing new clothes. Meeting, eating and enjoying!

How do you celebrate?

We have a five-day celebration, which begins with buying silver and gold items, and decorating the house with diyas flowers right from the doorstep to the worship place. The main part of the day is spent worshipping Lord Ganesha and Goddess Laxmi. On all five days, we light diyas, remember our ancestors and finally we light up the house. People visit to exchange sweets and gifts. Some celebrate Hindu New Year after Diwali.

Is there a tradition you’d like everyone to embrace?

Yes! Visiting us on our special day.

What is your favourite Diwali dish?

A delicious bread pudding called shahi tukda.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with Weekly readers?

Do wish us “Happy Diwali” and feel free to ask me to help you wear a saree or dress you up traditionally.

Related stories