Di­wali fes­ti­val turns 20


WHEN the South African Hindu Maha Sabha mooted the idea of a Di­wali fes­ti­val in Durban in 1998, the idea was “shot down”.

But its re­silience to pro­mote the uni­ver­sal mes­sage of “light over­com­ing dark­ness” re­mained its fo­cus and to­day the Durban Di­wali Fes­ti­val, which cel­e­brates its 20th an­niver­sary, has be­come a bea­con for unit­ing Hin­dus and pro­mot­ing so­cial co­he­sion.

“When I trace back to how it started in 1998, it was a very spe­cial time,” said Sabha pres­i­dent Ash­win Trikam­jee.

“There were no pub­lic Di­wali cel­e­bra­tions at the time, and when we took the idea to Durban tourism, it was shot down. The be­lief was that Hin­dus did not like to leave their homes dur­ing Di­wali.”

He said de­spite the hur­dle, the Sabha took the plunge, and went ahead with its plan.

“We held the fes­ti­val over a two-day pe­riod at the Bay of Plenty, and it drew a crowd of 50 000, a num­ber which has grown over the years. From the fes­ti­val, we have seen other Hindu com­mu­ni­ties in other towns in KwaZulu-Natal and Gaut­eng host fes­ti­vals.”

He said that, un­til 1998, the greater South African com­mu­nity saw Di­wali as be­ing “just about fire­works and sweet­meats”.

“They did not know the spir­i­tual mean­ing, the sig­nif­i­cance and the uni­ver­sal mes­sage of light over­com­ing dark­ness. But with the fes­ti­val, this has all changed. We have seen peo­ple from dif­fer­ent race groups and re­li­gious back­grounds at­tend.”

This year, the now three-day event will be held at the old Durban Drive-In site from Novem­ber 2 to 5.

Fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Nereen Be­sesar said, among the high­lights, a se­nior cit­i­zens pro­gramme would be held on the Fri­day morn­ing, fol­lowed by a com­edy show in the evening.

“A float pro­ces­sion through the streets of Durban will be held on Satur­day, fol­lowed by the of­fi­cial open­ing of the fes­ti­val. Pa­trons can also par­tic­i­pate in a mass ha­van on the Sun­day. There will also be food and shop­ping stalls.”

Be­sesar said, for the first time, they would have a Red Bull aerial show on the Satur­day. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for Red Bull, Hay­ley Ven­ter, said the show would be per­formed by Pa­trick David­son, Red Bull’s aer­o­batic and Red Bull Air Race Chal­lenger Se­ries pi­lot.

David­son is also the 2018 South African aer­o­batic cham­pion as well as the first South African to qual­ify and com­pete in the Red Bull Air Race Chal­lenger Se­ries.

“Pa­trick will per­form two shows on the day, mainly per­form­ing mul­ti­ple aer­o­batic ma­noeu­vres in the air.”

The Gaut­eng leg of the fes­ti­val, in its 15th year, will take place at the Gold Reef City park­ing lot on Oc­to­ber 20.

Be sure to get your copy of POST on Oc­to­ber 31 when POST pub­lishes a com­mem­o­ra­tive sup­ple­ment on the the Sabha’s Di­wali pro­gramme and its com­mu­nity ini­tia­tives.

For en­quiries and fur­ther in­for­ma­tion, call Be­sesar on 082 788 5767.


A file pic­ture of youth par­tic­i­pat­ing in a float pro­ces­sion dur­ing a pre­vi­ous Di­wali fair.


An ex­am­ple of some of the mul­ti­ple aer­o­batic ma­noeu­vres Pa­trick David­son, in­set, will per­form.

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