• August 16, 2017
Indian Aucklanders came out in force to celebrate 70 years of independence from colonial rule.
In a beautiful blend of history and culture, the Auckland War Memorial Museum was lit up last night with the colours of the Indian flag.
The saffron, white, blue and green shone proudly as more than 300 of the city’s Indian community paid tribute to 70 years of freedom from British colonisation.
The event was organised by the Indian High Commission in New Zealand, and community newspaper The Indian Weekender – all within 72 hours.
It kicked off with a flag hoisting by students from the University of Auckland – three Indian flags, and one New Zealand flag.
As dusk descended on the Auckland Domain, the crowd, thrumming with anticipation, quietened to sing the Indian national anthem.
It was followed by a resounding cheer and yells of “Vande Mataram” (I bow to thee, Mother India).
Labour MP Phil Twyford and National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi took turns addressing the crowd.
The Auckland University Indian Association performed a dramatic blend of Bollywood dances, while the Women’s Care Trust’s Golden Girls did a traditional and energetic Punjabi dance. There were also local singers and a Bollywood impersonator.
The night ended with an impromptu dance party, with the Indian tricolour as the backdrop. Local radio station Humm FM provided the music.
“It’s crazy,” said one enthusiastic audience member in passing. “We’re all strangers, but just look at us dancing together.”
Indians make up more than 30 per cent of the Auckland Asian population, with a fast growing migration rate, according to Statistics New Zealand.
The Independence Day event at the museum was the first of its kind, with host Swati Sharma promising it won’t be the last.
Other Indian festivities in Auckland include the annual October Diwali Mela in Aotea Square, which draws the largest crowds.