May 18, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Rotorua Deepawali 2009 – Strengthening Maori – Hindu relations

4 min read

While the subject of ethnic integration and closer affiliation with the Maori community gets substantial lip service, those who strive towards such a laudable venture are few and far between.

But there is at least one man and one team of like-minded individuals who are actively engaged in making the concept a reality.

Rotorua based senior scientist Dr Guna Magesan will not accept the accolade of being the prime mover of Hindu-Maori affinity but those in the know will acknowledge and applaud his contributions towards such a cause.

Two years ago, he gave new meaning and purpose to the Hindu way of life in New Zealand by finding commonalities with Maoridom and bringing together religious leaders from both sides of the equation at a Hindu conference. He will repeat the feat at the forthcoming Rotorua Deepawali Festival 2009, scheduled to be held on November 7 at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre.

It will be an important milestone for Hindu-Maori relations, which can be termed as getting to know each other better – whakawhanaungatanga. We have a lot to learn from each others traditions and find common grounds based on mutual respect and values, he said.

The Deepawali Festival will witness several aspects of Maori culture and traditions, including Karakia, Powhiri and Kapa Haka that will be performed at the Apumoana Marae as well as at the main venue. Natanahira Pona, a Rotorua based Master Carver (Tohunga Whakairo) has created Rehua, a sacred Maori personage, celebrating the Hindu-Maori fraternal bond.

Rehua will celebrate our journey of friendship. While I have always admired India and her people, Dr Magesans desire to forge a strong relationship between our peoples inspired me to create this piece, he said.

A graduate of the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute, Mr Pona has travelledextensively studying arts,crafts and culture of people of many countries including India. He will present the Rehuato Swami Vigyananand, Coordinator of Civilisational Association of South & South-East Asia at the opening ceremony of the Rotorua Deepawali Festival 2009.

Although highly qualified (he is a graduate of the Kharagpur Indian Institute of Technology and masters degree, PhD and D Lit in Hindu Philosophy, Swami Vigyananand chose to become a monk of the order called Dasnami, established by Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya at Kailash Ashram in Rishikesh in the Himalayas.

A globetrotter, he has been promoting the tenets of Hindu Dharma to people across the Continents, while his position as the Joint Secretary of the World Hindu Council accords him opportunities to meet with a cross-section of people. He has published several books on Hinduism and presented papers at more than 20 international conferences.

John Marsh, a respected elder (Kaumatua), said Rehua commemorated peoples shared respect for Nature.

Conceived inthe discipline ofstudying distantConstellations,itencouragesforging of strong entrepreneurial and personal relationships.

It manifests thesacred mantra of Om and the miracle of life and death, he said.

Mr Marsh said Om (or Aum in Sanskrit) connotes the past, present, the future, and that carving the symbol with that of the Sun was of immense value to Maori.

The Sun is described as the soul of the Universe, representing the life on earth and sustaining everything. This is the energy of confidence and power, consistency and inspiration, he said.

Mr Marsh will perform the Karakia (Prayer), at the opening ceremony and lead a special Powhiri (traditional Maori welcome) at the Apumoana Marae for guests from Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Taupo, Palmerston North and Wellington.

Dr Magesan is the creator of a common platform for Hindu-Maori interaction and integration and over the past several years, no Hindu function began without the traditional Maori blessing and prayer.

As our relationship grows with respect and admiration for each others cultural and social heritage and religious values, we find that our common ground runs deeper. We are keen to not only further our enhancing relationship but also ensure that amity and respect for the two people are carried forward by ensuing generations, Dr Magesan said.

The programme would also include Rangoli workshops and demonstration, Yoga and Meditation, Indian classical music and dances, folk dances, Bollywood dances, Indian bridal make-up, Indian cooking and kite making. Women would have an opportunity to learn how to wear the sari, while men would learn how to wear the turban.

Entry to the Rotorua Deepawali Festival 2009 is free for all.

  • What: Rotorua Deepawali 2009
  • By Whom: The Hindu Council of New Zealand Inc
  • For Whom: All human beings
  • Where: Rotorua Energy Events Centre, Queens Drive, Rotorua
  • When: Saturday, November 7
  • Contact: Dr Guna Magesan on (07) 3501336 or 021-0345621
  • Email: [email protected]

Source: India Newslink

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