Diwali FESTIVAL RETURNS AFTER THREE YEARS
Acommon value system and the vision of a united community, which celebrates Pietermaritzburg's tapestry of diversity, has been the foundation of the relationship between the Midlands Hindu Society and Capital Newspapers for the past two decades.
Speaking at the launch of the MHS Diwali Festival at the GVS Hall in Mountain Rise on Friday evening, Riquadeu Jacobs, owner and publisher of The Witness and Capital Newspapers, praised the Hindu community for the way it responded to the impact of the Covid19 pandemic, last July's civil unrest and the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this year.
"You have demonstrated the values that formed the very bedrock of Hinduism, derived not only from the ancient scriptures of the Veda and other religious texts, but through the lived actions of the devotees," he said.
Jacobs said the seismic change in the country's journey from apartheid to democracy in 1994 had led to the genesis of the Midlands Hindu Society, which was formed in 1995, and the establishment of Public Eye in 1999.
"The advent of freedom and democracy was central and essential to the formation of the practice on which both organisations share common progressive principles and enacting values to community activism that seeks to build a cohesive, caring society," he added.
"Over the last two decades the close relationship between the Midlands Hindu Society and Capital Newspapers have been evident through a spectrum of partnerships, premised on the principle of unity and diversity. It has been a privilege for our newspapers to have showcased the work and the efforts on the Hindu community in building a society based on the values of universal brotherhood and unity in extending love and support to those in need, irrespective of race and religion."
That partnership was extended to ensure that the role and significance of the Hindu community was recognised and celebrated beyond the borders of the old apartheid city. "To this effect the partnership with Public Eye has expanded to include Maritzburg
Sun, Edendale Eyethu and the Village Talk in Howick," Jacobs explained. "Through the efforts of this partnership our broader society has been exposed to a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the Hindu community. It is through enlightenment and understanding that diversity replaces division."
In July, Capital Newspapers acquired ownership of the 176-year-old Witness newspaper, which, he said, would continue to be the proud voice of independent journalism.
"A free, independent media is an essential component of any democratic society, none more so than South Africa," Jacobs said. "Not only does a free media serve as a bulwark against oppression and corruption, but it engenders diversity and facilitates the emergence of credible voices that shape public opinion."
Jacobs also warned guests, however, that it was easy in the age of digital media for those who peddled fake news to get a platform, which could lead to the destabilisation of society.
He urged young people to read newspapers to encourage the growth of critical voices and a culture of activism, a hallmark of both Capital Newspapers and The Witness, and the basis for its relationships with organisations like the Midlands Hindu Society.
As in previous years, Capital Newspapers will partner with MHS as it lights up the city iat the first Diwali Festival in Pietermaritzburg since 2019.
This year's event will be taking place at the Golden Horse Casino on October 8.
The Scottsville venue will play host to music, dance, a mass Hawan, delicious food and a fireworks display. The day's events will also be broadcast live on Hindvani.
Naresh Amichand, the Msunduzi Diwali coordinator, said it was wonderful that thousands of Hindus would once again be able to come together and celebrate the Festival of Lights.
"Our programme begins with the float parade on Saturday morning, starting from Raisethorpe Secondary School grounds," he added.
"The procession will go through the Raisethorpe CBD to the City Hall where a representative of the Msunduzi Municipality will light the lamp. We will move from there, with all the affiliate organisations, schools and drum majorettes, to the Golden Horse."
He went on to appeal to service providers and businesses in the Midlands to assist us with services, like the infrastructure, sound and lighting.
Friday evening's event included an auction, which raised around R30 000 towards the running of the Diwali Festival.