Varshaa Kalpana, 10, does a head stand as her father Manikandan Perugu has some lunch with their neighbour Maria Griffiths and Aarushh Perrughu.
The flurry of colour and bustling crowds at Christchurch’s Diwali may be in stark contrast to how the holiday is celebrated in India this year.
Up to 25,000 people were expected to crowd into Hagley Park’s entertainment triangle to enjoy the festivities on Saturday.
The scents of Indian delicacies wafted through the air and dancers in colourful sari gathered.
After opening with some devotional songs the audience will be treated to a mix of traditional, tap and even Latino dance, all to Bollywood-style music.
The night will end with a fireworks display.
Unfortunately, the scenes may not be the same in India this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The country has recorded more than seven million cases so far, but its daily count has been dropping.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked people not to be complacent during the festive season and to wear masks and social distance.
Christchurch Indian Social and Cultural Club spokesman Hemant Chauhan said he was feeling “lucky” to be in New Zealand where the holiday could be celebrated freely.
Relatives back in India would likely miss out on the usual events, he said.
“They’re getting to a stage where they can move a bit more freely, but they don’t have this freedom that we have here today.”
The news of New Zealand’s successes in dealing with the virus helped to advertise the country to India, he said.
“Sometimes they think ‘what is New Zealand, tucked into one corner of the world’, but when these things happen, back home people hear about it as well.”
Crowd numbers would be helped by a sunny, clear day with a high of 23 degrees C.
“We’ve been praying to our gods about this sort of beautiful weather and it’s just turned out perfect. Just what we expected.”
In previous years the event was held in Cathedral Square, but its growing popularity meant it outgrew the space, he said.
While Christchurch’s celebration is always held on Labour Weekend, the five-day festival actually starts on November 12.
Diwali is the most popular of Hindu festivals and is dedicated to the goddess Kali in Bengal and to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, in the rest of India.