Organisers of the annual Durban Diwali Festival have promised visitors an enlightening and cultural experience.
The festival, hosted by the South African Hindu Maha Sabha (SAHMS), began yesterday (Friday) at Suncoast Casino parking site. There will be entertainment, a food extravaganza, fashion, an on-site temple, yoga, an exhibition on indenture and a fireworks display this evening.
Included in the programme line-up for today is yoga, dance and drama, the Lotus FM bhangra and the fireworks display at 8pm. Musicians and dancers performing today include Aadhya Academy of Art, Nandiswara Dance Group and Kantharuby Dance Group, The Rudra Dance Group, Karthiegasen Pillay's Showband, Jani Punjab, Indian Rhythms featuring Melanie Muruvan and Zawadi YaMungu and Kerolin Govender. The Shree Sanathan Dharma Sabha of South Africa, in association with ISKCON will hold its annual Sundar Kaand recital from 2.30pm to 5pm.
At the festival tomorrow there will be a mass hawan starting at 8am, followed by Raam bhajan, Garba and Ram Katha. There will also be a performance by the Vishwaroop temple junior and senior dance group who will light up the stage from 3pm to 4pm with a Garba performance.
Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the SAHMS, said this year's festival was bigger with more stalls and attractions such as the “Story of Indenture” exhibition.
"The mass hawan grows every year. This year we are expecting more than 1 000 people to participate.
"More community leaders and business people have come to our rescue to support the event. We hope this would encourage more people to do the same next year and make this festival a true community affair.
“We have seen that it has grown over the years as not just a Hindu festival, but we are attracting people of all sections of the community coming to enjoy what's on offer. People can enjoy the spirit of Diwali which is caring and giving," said Trikamjee.
Selvan Naidoo, director of the 1860 Heritage Centre, who curated the indenture exhibition said the exhibition tells the story of indenture from arrival through to the colonial and apartheid struggles.
"We also focused on sport, cultural traditions, temples and religious observances. I curated it with parts of our collection from the Heritage Centre. We also focused on when Diwali was first officially recognised in terms of celebrating Diwali.
“The first official recognition came in 1910, which was written about by Prof Ashwin Desai. It's a great narrative.
"We added material on traders and passengers and their role in growing the colonial economy. I looked at temples and the growth of Hinduism in South Africa and the Hindu Maha Sabha history. The festival is a great way of bringing people together.
“And to have an exhibition in an open area with access to more people, means people can identify with their indentured roots," said Naidoo.
The Independent on Saturday