All in Ethnic communities
Attended by over a hundred people, and performed by dancers of various skill-levels and ages – led by their teacher Anuradha Ambalavanar, the Bharatanatyam Group of Christchurch showcased its eighth annual dance recital in Christchurch on April 8. Ambalavanar, originally from Sri Lanka, who started the school 12 years back, has trained under Vivek Kinra, Artistic Director of New Zealand Academy of Bharatanatyam and Mudra Dance Company, Wellington.
TasiNZ, or the Telugu Association of South Island New Zealand, an informal group in existence since 2006, celebrated Ugadi - the Telugu New Year in Christchurch last month. Ugadi, as it is called in the Deccan region of India, marks the commencement of the Hindu New Year by recognising a change in the lunar orbit. (picture credit: TasiNZ)
The Zimbabwean community in Canterbury celebrated their 37th Independence Day on April 22. Zimbabwe attained its independence from Britain on April 18, 1980. Since then it has been a very important day in the calendar of Zimbabwe. To mark this day, the Zimbabwean community in Canterbury came together to reflect on the journey of the country so far. The occasionwas well attended by Zimbabweans as well asother invited international communities in Christchurch. The ceremony was officially opened with a karakia by Maori elder, Sally Pitama followed by our guest speaker, Hilton Chaza, who chronicled the history of Zimbabwe and the struggle that culminated in attainment of independence. Entertainment was provided by the the Chitongo African Band which mesmerized the crowd with their traditional beat from the heart of Zimbabwe.
In what can be termed as an excellent example of religious harmony in New Zealand, and more so, shining a bright light on India's age-old diverse traditions, last weekend, Keralites [those from the southern Indian state of Kerala, also called Malayalis] in Christchurch celebrated Easter, a Christian festival, and Vishu, a Hindu festival, together. First up on Saturday, April 22, was the celebration by the Kerala Cultural Forum (KCF), which was formed in 2009. This was followed by the event on April 23, hosted by the oldest Malayali organisation in the City – since 2005 - the Christchurch Kerala Association (CKA).
One of the most sacred Buddhist festivals in the world, celebrating the birth, along with commemorating the enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha, which falls on May 3, this year, was celebrated in Christchurch on April 22. The event was co-organised by the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) South Island NZ and Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple (FGSBT) South Island, which reopened its door late last year after four years of intensive earthquake repairs. It was also the temple's 10th year of establishment, causing the celebrations to be bigger than usual.
The 300-member Canterbury Nepalese Society (CNS), which was established in 2015, organised the Hindu New Year 2074 in Christchurch on April 14. Bishnu Pokhrel, President of CNS shared how the event showcased the Nepalese culture to the wider community. Surinder Tandon, President of Christchurch Multicultural Council was the chief guest. The highlight of the day was a Nepalese fashion show with men and women flaunting traditional Nepalese dresses, followed by traditional Nepalese dances and other cultural performances. The event ended with mouth-watering Nepalese cuisine.
Formed in 1998 The Canterbury Shetland and Orkney Society is a friendly network and social hub for interested locals and Island descendants. We have about 120 members and we meet every two months for social outings and to celebrate festivals such as ‘Up Helly Aa’ (www.uphellyaa.org/) held on the last Tuesday in January, by singing the three Viking songs and carrying out a ‘Galley-Burning,’and playing such Viking games as Kubb.
The recently incorporated Canterbury Indian Community Centre Trust (CICCT) has started raising funds to make the dream of an Indian community centre in Christchurch a reality in the next two years. The Trust hit the ball rolling on April 8 in a specially organised ghazal and old Hindi melodious songs night, where the attendees were introduced to the objectives of CICCT by Ponnuram Venu Gopal, one of the its trustees.
The Canterbury Muslim Community Trust had organised a wonderful Islamic Arts exhibition in Christchurch South Library between April 2 and 9. We had also covered the story in our last issue. Below we present some out of the 53 displays in the four categories of architectural, decorative, calligraphy and textile arts.
The banner exhibition was displayed at the Christchurch City Council building depicting their life stories. It was commissioned by the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation, and organised by the Foundation's Reserach Centre, and Rewi Alley Education and Cultural Centre.
Cartolina is a fortnightly programme on community radio station Plains FM96.9 that presents information on Italian culture and local events with Italian connections in the friendly, laid-back style of its producer, Wilma Laryn (see photo). The title, Cartolina, is Italian for Postcard, referring to the easy-going way of presenting the show’s message.
On April 8, the West African community organised an achievers award night attended by over 50 people. Dennis Agelebe, President of Nigerian Canterbury Association of New Zealand, noted the contributions of the African community in Christchurch and New Zealand. Jimmy Chen, Christchurch City Councillor, and Sally Pitama from Ngai Tahu, welcomed the African community to Christchurch. "Our aim is to acknowledge West Africans living in Canterbury that have performed exceptionally well in their field. We believe that by celebrating their hard work, future generation will be inspired to aim high in their endeavours. This will also promote our image in the wider society," noted the organisers.
Two migrant drivers based in Christchurch can now claim they are among the country’s best, after winning the top two awards at Go Bus Transport’s Bus Roadeo at the Airforce Museum in Christchurch on Saturday March 11. Raymund Llamas, who is from the Philippines and has driven buses in his home country and in Dubai, was named Go Bus Driver of the Year, and Arvinder Singh from India, won the runner-up.
Eric Chuah, former head of migrant banking with ANZ, has launched Cultural Connections, New Zealand’s first social enterprise to specialise in researching migrants, is calling all migrants to join its research panels and in doing so help the country’s multicultural community groups flourish.
“It was traditional with a contemporary twist”. That’s how Swaroopa Unni – an Indian classical dancer originally from Kerala [South India] who has been running the only Indian classical dance school in Otago called Natyaloka – described the weekend showcase of Kathak as part of Dunedin Fringe Festival. Called Rang – Colours, the Indian classical dance rendition was performed by Unni, in collaboration with her teachers and internationally acclaimed artists Nirupama and Rajendra who run the Abhinava Dance Company in Bengaluru. Rohini Prabhath, one of their students, also participated in the performance held on March 18 and 19.
The multicultural expressions of Islamic arts is a collection of treasures from the Christchurch Muslim community, which are on display at the South Christchurch Library between April 2 and 9. The display mainly shows embroidery, calligraphy and photography. It includes four categories which are; architectural art, textile arts, calligraphy and decorative arts.
The Human Rights Commission’s That’s Us anti-racism campaign has reached almost 2 million people (1.9 million) and engaged with more than 600,000 people since its launch on the September 1, 2016. That’s Us is New Zealand’s first nationwide, anti-racism campaign with its first stage focused on sharing the stories of everyday Kiwis.
The Indian Social and Cultural Club (ISCC) – a Christchurch-based social and cultural organisation, in its recently held AGM has elected a new 20-member strong executive committee to oversee the Club’s initiatives in its 20th anniversary year. Formed in 1997, the Club is known for organising the biggest Diwali festival in the South Island every year.
Christchurch-based social organisation Indian Cultural Group have tied up with Loan Market and organised a free seminar on April 10 titled, Christchurch Indian First Home Buyers Seminar, to help the Indian community understand the new lending policies of various banks in New Zealand.
The monthly meeting of a recently-launched coffee club to deliberate ideas for women empowerment among the South Asian community in the South Island has highlighted the need for generating awareness against domestic violence across the region. An initiative of Christchurch-based Indian Cultural Group and Auckland-based community organisation based in Manukau, Sahaayta, the meeting also had women speakers to talk about women issues. While Dr Ruchika Sachdev, a dentist, shared how she frequently encounters women suffering from domestic violence as part of her everyday practice; Jane Song from the Canterbury Migrants Centre shared insights on how vulnerable migrant women are in New Zealand without any family and peer support.