The Auckland International Cultural Festival

The Auckland International Cultural Festival, proudly sponsored by Auckland City Council, came back with a big bang for its 16th year. This free one day event was an extravagant cultural hub that featured everything from international music to Gaelic football.

With more than 55 cultures represented, all the attendees were able to celebrate diversity in Auckland together. The arena was filled with food stalls containing cuisines from all over the globe. Aucklanders had the opportunity to indulge in some mouth watering culinary delights such as Argentinean Empanadas, Japanese castellas, Spanish Paellas, Indian Samosas, Hungarian Gundel Palacsinta and much more.

The day was coloured with international music and vibrant dance performances prompting the audience to get up on their feet. The music and performances were from countries such as Indonesia, France, Thailand, Ethiopia among many others.

Sports lovers also got their own domain where they were given the opportunity to play fun, interactive games such as Gaelic football, softball, kabaddi or curling. At about mid-day, there was a Cultural Football Tournament that aroused a lot of enthusiasm and conviviality.

Here are some pictures from my time at The Auckland International Cultural Festival. To check out some of the videos of the performances head over to the Messages to Mumbai Facebook Page. 

These photographs were taken by Chikita Kodikal. If you would like to seek permission to use these photos you can send a message by clicking on the contact Messages to Mumbai tab. Messages to Mumbai logo designed by Vidyut and Chikita Kodikal.

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The Great Auckland Bed Race

Back in March this year, King Koil sponsored an event called The Great Auckland Bed Race where a bunch of Auckland based charitable organizations participated in an annual family fun day extravaganza with the added bonus of raising funds for their respective causes/initiatives.

Prior to the day, each organization was to be represented by one (or more) running team(s) consisting of seven people (six runners and one passenger). These individuals were given the responsibility to construct their own ‘racing bed’ in a manner that best resonated with their theme, which could be anything from angels and demons to Thunderbirds.

The day started with a ‘novelty fancy dress parade,’ wherein all participants were to walk approximately 1.5 km showcasing not only their racing bed, but also their snazzy costumes. The parade was led by a marching band.

Post lunch, the real competition began! All the racing teams got themselves and their bed geared up to run a 3 km race course. Much to the amusement of onlookers, the course consisted of unforeseen surprises and obstacles. Cash prizes (provided by the event sponsors) were awarded to the teams that matched the criterias for the different categories.

Here are some pictures from my time at The Great Auckland Bed Race.

These photographs were taken by Chikita Kodikal. If you would like to seek permission to use these photos you can send a message by clicking on the contact Messages to Mumbai tab. Messages to Mumbai logo designed by Vidyut and Chikita Kodikal.

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Pink Shirt Day (NZ) Talk: The Psychology of Bullying

I have been incredibly fortunate to be invited to speak at two talks/lectures in the last two weeks. One of them was at Unitec Henderson Campus, where I spoke in front of a bunch of incredible 1st year students studying Social Practice and the other at The Problem Gambling Foundation on behalf of The Peace Foundation and The Mental Health Foundation (organizer of Pink Shirt Day in New Zealand), which was in front of people from all walks of life; both these talks were in celebration of Pink Shirt Day 2015. I have been a part of the Pink Shirt Day Event for the past two years now. It feels great to be able to contribute to an initiative that I feel incredibly passionate about. Here is the information that I shared at the event:

The information on these slides was researched by Chikita Kodikal. The photos used for these slides were retrieved from Google Images. The experiences that have been shared in this presentation have been done so purely for educational purposes. If you would like to seek permission to use this powerpoint presentation you can send a message by clicking on the contact Messages to Mumbai tab. Messages to Mumbai logo designed by Vidyut and Chikita Kodikal.

Chinese Lantern Festival: Lit Lanterns & Dancing Lions

The Lantern Festival is quite an integral part of Chinese Tradition and Culture. It has been celebrated since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-221AD) and is most commonly conducted on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar Calendar. The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the first full moon night, marking the return of spring. It also symbolizes the reunion of the family.

According to Chinese folk customs, most families tend to engage in various activities on the day such as lighting and flying lanterns, guessing the riddles written on lanterns, snacking on Tangyuan (glutinous rice flour balls soaked in boiled water) and of course, lion and dragon dances.

It is believed that by lighting lanterns, one offers prayers that will allow him/her and their family to have healthy and prosperous future. Usually, women who have the desire to be pregnant walk under lit hanging lanterns praying for a child. In this scenario, the lit lanterns signifies illumination of the future and child birth.

The lion dance is considered a traditional folk dance in China. It dates back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280). The ancient Chinese believed the lion to signify strength and bravery; its power had the ability to drive away the forces of evil, thus protecting the people and their livestock. As a result, lion dances are conducted primarily during important events.

Lion dances are different to Dragon dances, more so for technical reasons. The dancers hold the dragon by poles, hence it is easier to spot the dancers doing the dragon dance as opposed to the lion dance.

Now-a-days, Lantern Festivals are held annually in not only China, but also in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

Here are some pictures from my time at the Chinese Lantern Festival.

These photographs were taken by Chikita Kodikal. If you would like to seek permission to use these photos you can send a message by clicking on the contact Messages to Mumbai tab. Messages to Mumbai logo designed by Vidyut and Chikita Kodikal.

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Vogue Empower My Choice: What the criticism actually did to feminism

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Originally posted on This Is My Truth:

The Vogue Empower video titled ‘My Choice’ featuring Deepika Padukone and 99 other women, from different walks of life, has already taken way too much space than it deserved. And yet, I feel the need to defend it. Allow me to explain why.

My first reaction:

The video was released on Saturday and when I first saw someone sharing it, I didn’t even bother to open it, just like I don’t care to open so many other virals the public seem to love. But then as more people started sharing it, particularly my feminist progressive friends, I thought ok lets see what it is all about. So I saw and thought it was just about nice, makes a few bold statements which can be appreciated except that they didn’t really have a large size woman, even when the narrative went, “To be a size zero or a size 15, my choice.”

My second…

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BBC releases India’s Daughter on YouTube!

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I have a few things to say about this…
1) With regards to the absurd things M. L. Sharma and A. P. Singh (the defense lawyers for the rapists) have said in this documentary just goes to show that anyone can become a lawyer in India these days. Even if an FIR was not launched, why didn’t the bar take swift action and take away their licenses? Not everyone in India agrees with their views and opinions, unfortunately there is a sector of society that does uphold such thinking.
2) The day men (like the ones mentioned above) change their mentality and learn to respect women is the day change will ensue within society. Lets face it, true progress will not come if you try to deliberately exclude or eliminate one half of the society.
3) By banning ‪#‎IndiasDaughter documentary in India, the Indian Government cannot prevent the public (national and international) from addressing the elephant(s) in the room. In fact, such a documentary should spark debate amongst the public and parliament as to what long term solutions should be constructed and implemented to further educate the masses and eradicate India’s so called “Rape Culture.” Additionally, for the Indian Government to be constantly banning media content in an attempt to prevent India from being “defamed” is completely contradictory to the democratic values the country’s constitution upholds.

And lastly..

4) Unfortunately, what got to the perpetrators was a poverty of ambition [as shown in the documentary]. The government and the people need to understand that poverty and inequality of opportunity, especially to receive quality education, should be addressed within our communities worldwide because that is the root of all evil. With a decrease in poverty levels and increase in citizens receiving quality education, woman’s security (amongst other things) are bound to improve. The issue being addressed at hand is in fact a global issue and not just India’s issue.

Originally posted on UrbanAsian:

After much speculation, the highly controversial documentary, India’s Daughter, makes its way to the World Wide Web. Banned in India, the documentary focuses on the rape case of Jyoti Singh who was brutally beaten and raped in Delhi in 2012.

The documentary highlights the aftermath of the event as well as a one on one interview with assailant Mukesh Singh. While BBC was in high hopes of releasing the video on television for Women’s Day (March 8th), heavy protests against Mukesh Singh’s lack of remorse and despicable comments lead the the ban of the documentary in India.

Directed by Leslee Udwin, the film has now been made available on YouTube.

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Fiji: Beaches, Markets, Palm Trees and Banana Leaves

This past weekend, my parents planned a surprise vacation to Fiji, South Pacific’s tropical paradise, for my brother and I. From the moment I landed in Fiji, I was absolutely blown away by Fijian hospitality and culture. Visiting Fiji was like visiting a home away from home.

We stayed at the Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton for 4 nights. The villa we stayed at had a beautiful sea facing view. All throughout the day we could see cruise ships and boats sailing past. It was an absolutely heavenly sight to see. The resort was filled with people of all nationalities and ethnicities. What made the stay at Fiji Hilton even better was hearing a loud and cheerful BULA (hello in Fijian) every time I walked passed the staff and visitors and to my surprise this kind of atmosphere was also in the cities. I was really lucky to have met some amazing people whilst in Fiji and till this date we have kept in touch with each other.

My family and I travelled all throughout Denarau, Nadi, Suva and Sigatoka. But the highlight of my trip was the Sigatoka Safari. I had the great privilege to meet with villagers that were based a few hours away from Sigatoka. Being a true city gal, hiking and doing any activity outdoors is completely outside my comfort zone; however, participating in the Sigatoka Safari really helped me challenge my fears in so many ways. While next to the Cannibal Caves, I got to meet with some of the other villagers and their children. They were very gracious to let me into their homes and allowed me to see their plantations and animals. I was really fascinated by the way the children kept themselves busy: riding their horses down to the lake, welcoming tourists, inventing new games and toys. It was absolutely wonderful for me to see people content and grateful for all that they have, even if they had very little.

Towards the end of the Sigatoka Safari the villagers prepared some lunch for us and even showed us some classic Fijian songs and performances. Watching them dance, I couldn’t help but join them.

I learnt so much about Fijian culture and their socio-economic conditions. It was an absolutely eye-opening and remarkable experience. This trip wouldn’t have been possible without my parents.

Here are a few photographs from my stay in Fiji.

These photographs were taken by Chikita Kodikal. If you would like to seek permission to use these photos you can send a message by clicking on the contact Messages to Mumbai tab. Messages to Mumbai logo designed by Vidyut and Chikita Kodikal.

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