Past Diwali celebrations in New Zealand have been criticised for reducing the festival of lights to a showcase of Indian music and dance - a process lampooned as "Bollywoodising".
But as the Indian population in New Zealand grows, things are changing fast.
Alongside the usual food stalls, singing, dancing and martial arts performances, some celebrations this year also included a rendition of Ramayan.
It all starts with Ramayan
The ancient Indian epic tells the story of a beloved prince named Ram who is banished from the kingdom of Ayodhya for 14 years. His wife, Sita, and brother accompany him as he wanders through forests.
A 10-headed demon king named Ravan then abducts Sita, taking her to his kingdom of Lanka.
Aided by an army of monkeys, Ram kills Ravan and rescues Sita. The trio then return to Ayodhya, where Ram establishes a kingdom that is fair and just for all citizens.
According to tradition, Diwali is the day on which it is believed that Ram and Sita returned to Ayodhya after 14 years. And just as the entire kingdom of Ayodhya was filled with bright lights to welcome them home, Hindus light up their homes, streets, markets and everything else.
At this time of year, the Indian community offers prayers, exchange sweets, lights diya (oil lamps), makes rangolis (decorative patterns created on floor with coloured rice flour) and sets off firecrackers in celebration of the occasion.
The festival is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains, and marks the beginning of the Hindu new year.
For Sikhs, Diwali coincides with a celebration called Bandi Chhor Diwas. On this day in 1619, the sixth Sikh spiritual leader, Guru Hargobind Singh, was released from prison.
What's more, Jains believe the founder of their faith, Mahavir, attained nirvana, or the ultimate liberation from the cycle of life and death, on this day.
In essence, Ramayan is a story of Ram's dogged pursuit of righteousness and a triumph of good over evil. His self-sacrifice and heroism have ensured the tale remains relevant today.
However, the story has increasingly become a central part of India's political discourse over the past four decades.
The politics of Ram
In the first four decades following India's independence in 1947, some Hindus demanded that a temple dedicated to Ram be constructed on a site in Ayodhya that is believed to be his birthplace on which a medieval mosque had been built.
The issue was brought to prominence in the late 1980s and early '90s by the now-ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), leading to the demolition of the mosque by Hindu hardliners in 1992.
The BJP and its sister organisations believe the mosque was built by a Muslim invader after the destruction of an ancient temple.
After the mosque was demolished, the dispute went to India's Supreme Court.
In 2019, the nation's top court ruled that the mosque's demolition was against the rule of law but gave the disputed site to Hindus to build a temple.
What's more, the judges directed the Indian government to set aside five acres of land at an alternative site in Ayodhya for Muslims to construct a mosque.
Although Covid delayed construction efforts, the temple is set to open on 22 January, with Prime Minister and BJP leader Narendra Modi scheduled to attend.
With India due to vote in a general election in the middle of next year, the BJP and its leader will likely claim that the temple's completion represents the fulfilment of a decades-old promise.
However, now that a temple has been constructed, it's hard to see political parties using the issue to mobilise support as they had in the past.
Returning to the celebrations in New Zealand, the largest took place over the weekend in Auckland's Aotea Square.
Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, Auckland Council's economic and cultural agency, estimates that more than 120,000 attended over the course of two days.
The predominantly Indian subcontinental crowd was treated to more than 150 performances - featuring traditional and contemporary Indian music and dance - at three separate venues in the central city.
As has been the case since the festival's inception in 2002, the two-day event featured food stalls serving dishes from different parts of India. It ended with an impressive display of fireworks on Sunday night.
Similar celebrations of varying sizes took place in other cities nationwide, including Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Invercargill, Dunedin and Hamilton.
In Auckland, separate events were held in Waitakere Franklin and the North Shore to mark the occasion.
The Waitakere Indian Association, the festival organiser in West Auckland, organised a rangoli competition, with children as well as adults participating enthusiastically.
In the South Island district of Tasman, students at Golden Bay High School took part in a vibrant celebration of rangoli art, facilitated by the Asia New Zealand Foundation as part of the school's Indian Culture Appreciation Day.
Wellington City Libraries showcased a collection of Diwali books in its Newton branch to educate younger generations on the significance of the festival.
In Christchurch, the Indian Social and Cultural Club organised the South Island's largest Diwali celebration in North Hagley Park, with a group performing Ramayan on stage.
"It was the first time we organised a rendition of the story of Ram-Sita here in the Garden City," said Monty Parti, president of the club. "It was an important addition to our offerings and will be a regular affair going forward. I myself played the role of the demon Ravan and enjoyed it thoroughly."
Ronit Sethi, manager of the Sanskar Charitable Trust, which performed Ramayan at Auckland's Aotea Square, believes the performance is an important addition to the regular festive atmosphere of the event.
"We have been doing this for two years now across several Diwali festivals in the city," Sethi said. "The aim is to make the celebrations enjoyable and educational for children and teenagers in the community. This is also a way to introduce them to the reasons we celebrate Diwali."
Murali Kumar, the festival's organiser in Wellington and founder of Communities Action Trust NZ, agrees that the cultural aspects of the festival are important, and highlighted the significance of a diya-making workshop in the capital.
"Through it, we aimed to raise awareness on why Diwali is called the festival of lights and what it signifies as a celebration of victory of light over darkness," Kumar said.
In Auckland, organisers say the festival's significance is constantly evolving, whether it's through social media, arts and crafts, or displays.
"(The educational aspects of the culture surrounding Diwali) are definitely there and more will happen in future," said Ella Kumar, the festival's longest-serving volunteer.