New Zealand’s first ever DharmaFest, with the theme ‘Vibhinnatāyām Ekatvam’ – Unity in Diversity, was launched at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre in Auckland by Hindu Youth New Zealand (HYNZ) on Sunday, 7th August 2022. The event started at 10.00 am with the traditional welcoming of spiritual representatives from various Dharma groups followed by the lighting of the diya (lamp) to mark the auspicious beginning of DharmaFest.
Mana Whenua of the region where DharmaFest was taking place, were acknowledged and with a karakia, began the inauguration of the event. Swami Tadananda from the Hindu community, Shri Rrahul Dosshi from the Jain community, Venerable Rewatha Thero from the Buddhist Community and Shri Manjit Singh from the Sikh community each recited traditional prayers from their tradition and blessed the proceedings for the day. It was a significant moment for New Zealand to witness such a gathering of leaders from numerous Dharma-based organizations, coming together for the betterment of New Zealand society.
Dharma-based traditions, cultures, knowledge systems and lifestyles have been welcomed throughout the world. Well-known examples include yoga, meditation and mindfulness. Likewise, Dharmic communities, be it spiritual, cultural, or service-oriented, have been doing tremendous work and giving back not only to ethnic communities but to the wider New Zealand society. Dharmic communities have played a key role in promoting pluralism and respect for harmonious coexistence.
DharmaFest provided an opportunity for Dharmic communities to come together, engage with each other and showcase their unique contributions to Aotearoa New Zealand. With the attendance of several Dharma-based groups, temples and spiritual organisations, the youth team leading this event were grateful and humbled by the support from the community. All participating organisations had an opportunity to showcase the beautiful dimensions of Dharmic culture and the contribution of this diverse community to the wider New Zealand society.
“DharmaFest, is a turning point for the future of many of our Dharmic communities,” said Murali Krishna Magesan, Coordinator, DharmaFest. “It paves a road for real positive engagement and opportunity to improve social cohesion within Aotearoa”
All community leaders blessed and congratulated the youth volunteers for turning this vision into a reality. They appreciated the youth-led DharmaFest initiative for making this a family-friendly event with a smoke-free, alcohol-free and meat-free environment. The free event, which was open to the New Zealand public, gave everyone an opportunity to explore various stalls to learn about and experience some of the most ancient diverse cultures, arts, crafts, yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. Approximately 1,000 people attended DharmaFest over the course of the day.
During the event, many workshops and demonstrations focusing on yoga, Ayurveda and meditation were organised. Many people had the opportunity to experience yoga and meditation, get mehndi done, purchase clothing and jewellery and create art. The amazing flavours at the numerous food stalls were a real hit with the public.
“Youth from participating organisations have really enjoyed their experience at DharmaFest and have expressed interest to be involved in helping create unique events like this in the future,” said Mr Magesan. “We will be reaching out to the interested organisations soon.”
Hindu Youth New Zealand is a youth-led organisation that helps in developing young leaders in Aotearoa New Zealand. Through capability and capacity-building initiatives, such as national conferences, workshops, webinars, cultural events, and mentorship programmes, young people are supported to reach their potential and have an opportunity to contribute to the wider New Zealand society.
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