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Diwali in S Africa hailed as social-cohesion exercise

Press Trust of India  |  Johannesburg 

The 20th edition of the annual Festival in has been hailed as a major social-exercise in a city that is bedevilled by tensions between the large Indian community in and the indigenous Zulus.

"This is social right on the ground," said Ashwin Trikamjee, of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha, which organises the event that was officially opened Saturday evening.

Trikamjee said this was because the two-day festival of culture, colour and cuisine was both aimed at and attracted not just community, but hundreds of South Africans from all communities.

He recalled the scepticism in many quarters when the was first mooted a few years after the local beachfront was racially desegregated following the election of as the country's and the end of apartheid.

"So many people, including from our own community, told us that it would not work. But we took up the challenge and went ahead at the beachfront, where thousands of supporters showed up, prompting us to seek larger venues over the years until we settled on the -- which was formerly the home of Durban's only drive-in cinema until its closure," Trikamjee told

The chief guests included Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a great follower of and, at 90, still of the

In his address, Buthelezi referred to the importance of social and called for all South Africans to hold hands across racial divides.

Guest Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, the of the statutory Cultural, Linguistic and Religious Rights Commission, echoed Buthelezi's call, imploring South Africans to unite to bring about peace, tolerance and friendship. "Don't entertain hate speech and hatred. If we entertain it, we will remain in the dark.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, November 04 2018. 08:25 IST