Steeped in antiquity, the ancient and beautiful Diwali Festival, was carried through the blood and in the hearts of all the intrepid Hindu Indian settlers who braved the mighty oceans to settle in their new motherland, South Africa in 1860.

Last Thursday saw the launch of the North Coast Diwali Celebrations at the Shri Mariamen Temple in Mount Edgecombe at a glittering ceremony featuring entertainment and many key speakers including the MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, Mr Ravi Pillay.

Chairman of the North Coast Diwali Celebration Committee, Seelan Achary, opened the programme with a warm welcome before speaking on the modern relevance of Diwali and how it and other traditional events can work to bring together different communities.

“Diwali and many other cultural events must feature all South Africans of all races coming together, learning from each other and celebrating the heritage of all our people,” added Achary.Ishwar Ramlutchman of the Sivananda World Peace Foundation, said, “The spirit of Diwali is all of us coming together in the spirit of unity. Mr Achary and the Sivananda World Peace Foundation have come together and have been working on a monument to commemorate both the initial Indian settlers and the struggle icons of our country.

Following this tradition, a number of speakers spoke of a multitude of events in the programme this year including the ABI Coco Cola Deepavali Cook-off Completion, a mini soccer tournament held by Fireworks King and the 20 years running with democracy 5km run and fun walk.In the key note address, MEC Pillay said, “By coming together, we have shown that we as a people can build an unbreakable bond of unity.

We must not, however, forget that our diversity is also a great source of strength. In 20 years of democracy, we have come a long way and achieved much. The world recognises South Africa for this. We must not, however, take it for granted. Social cohesion must be nurtured and grown till it is unbreakable. We must all work daily to ensure we achieve unity through diversity.”

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