Easter and Vaisakhi

Melissa Lee
Wellington, April 13, 2022

As we head into Autumn in New Zealand and the start of many traditional Spring Festivals of South and South-East Asia, it is important to reflect on the many changes that we have seen around New Zealand.

We have lost loved ones to Covid-19, we have seen many of our favourite storefronts close and we have seen incredibly sad situations keeping people torn apart on the borders.

We have also seen incredible acts of kindness and charity. The Sikh Gurudwara, the Hindu Mandir and the Muslim Masjid, alongside many other churches around New Zealand, opened their doors to support the vaccinations efforts, to provide food and compassion to the citizens of our country while they themselves strived to ensure that their congregants received the pastoral and spiritual care of their faith.

We have seen the cost of living continue to rise on almost every front from prices at the petrol pump to the cost of basic vegetables like Broccoli and Cabbage.

Here in 2022, as we steer a course into an uncertain future we should remember the great phrase of confidence by Alexander Pope -Hope Springs Eternal.

New Zealanders need to have confidence and hope that we can rebuild our economic opportunities even as crime rates rise and public debt mounts higher. We need to re-build New Zealand into a place where all people can once more be proud of living, working and thriving on our shores. Our borders need to be open once more to our friends across the world as they return to participate in Kiwi life as tourists, as learners and as future potential New Zealanders themselves participating in our skilled job sectors and communities.

The message of Vaisakhi (or Baisakhi) is one of renewal, joy and of rebirth. For Sikhs, it is a great time of celebration with the anniversary of the establishment of the Khalsa Panth commemorated in dance music and sports of the highest quality and tradition.

For Hindus, it is the rebirth of the harvest and a time of charity, of Dāna and the scents of the Indian subcontinent, sandal, incense and kasha permeating community festivals.

For many Nepalese New Zealanders, Vaisakhi serves as a time of bright colours and celebrations as they ring in the solar New Year alongside other communities at this special time of the season.

 

 

For many New Zealanders celebrating Vaisakhi across all faiths, they look forward to the Nagar Kirtan parades, both locally and in centres across the world, a true expression of multicultural commitment to the many ethnicities and creeds that herald the coming of the New Year in this blessed month.

Indeed, April is not only a time for Vaisakhi but for Muslims, it is their time for personal reflection during the month of Ramadan, for Jewish New Zealanders the Passover story, passed down over millennia from one generation to the next provides their community with the restoration and renewal of their people’s identity. Of course, for Christians, the Easter story will once again be told over several days in the message of Jesus Christ to his people. We should reflect on the special way this year’s April will see so many communities of our world living here in New Zealand, be able to celebrate one another’s special days even as we remain restricted in gathering in the ways we would like to.

Vaisakhi brings the joy of Spring to India (Photo by Pallav Paliwal)

I hope this month is a wonderful time for you and your families and that in the spirit of Vaisakhi, Easter, Ramadan and Passover, and wish you the very best no matter what occasion you will be celebrating this April.

Note: This column originally ran on Indian Newslink in April 2022