'Gandhi' in Taranaki as Indians celebrate

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 18/08/2014
india independence
CHARLOTTE CURD/FAIRFAX NZ
HISTORY LESSON: Shavraya Banerjee, dressed as his favourite Indian freedom fighter, gave a speech at the New Plymouth Indian community’s celebration of Indian Independence Day at St Mary’s Peace Hall on Saturday night.

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New Plymouth's Indian community came to life in a burst of colour and song to celebrate 68 years of independence.

About 200 members of the Indian community joined together on Saturday night to dance, tell stories and share a feast of Indian food.

Amid the colourful array of saris, bindis and energetic children were some serious messages.

Event master of ceremonies Tanvi Bhagwat said India may not be the oldest democracy in the world, but it was the largest.

"We are 68 years into the future," she said. "For 68 years we have lived freedom and shown freedom in every aspect of our lives.

"We all have to remember our freedom fighters and the sacrifices they made so we can live free, so we can all live free."

Bhagwat wasn't alone in honouring freedom fighters.

A group of boys dressed up as their favourite freedom fighters and gave speeches as their heroes.

Nirav Rajput was dressed as Mahatma Gandhi, who is widely considered to be the guide who led India to independence from Britain.

"Mahatma Gandhi was a great leader of Indian nationalism," Nirav said. "He is called the father of the nation."

Eleven-year-old Vahmika Satrasala talked about India's struggle for independence.

India had come a long way since being granted independence on August 15, 1947, Vahmika said.

But it was not an easy struggle.

Indian men were asked to go to war as British soldiers in World War I and in exchange their country was promised independence upon their return.

"Millions of Indians participated in the first world war expecting the British to live up to their word."

However, the country wasn't granted independence until 1947.

"This is a very important day for Indian history. It is when India got independence from Britain."

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- Taranaki Daily News

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