Johannesburg: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has greeted the country's Hindu community on the occasion of Diwali and thanked them for enriching the culture of the country.
Ramaphosa said that the observance of Diwali in South Africa had deep historical roots; dating back to the arrival of Indian indentured labourers in 1860.
It is testament to the resilience of the great cultures of the subcontinent that Deepavali (Diwali) continues to be celebrated here in the southernmost tip of Africa, Ramaphosa said.
The festival traditions have long become a regular feature in many of our cities, and we continue to be inspired by the sense of community, fellowship and pride they engender, the President added.
Ramaphosa, like most other South Africans, also lamented the fact that the huge public celebrations of Diwali across the country, and in particular those in the coastal city of Durban and the economic hub of Johannesburg, could not be hosted this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These events annually attract tens of thousands of people from all communities.
I want to thank the Hindu community and all religious communities in South Africa for their support in the national effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic; the restrictions on public worship have been difficult, but have greatly assisted in preventing further infections, Ramaphosa said.
The President said that the Hindu community greatly enriched South Africa's cultural life and that its spiritual and philosophical traditions found expression in South Africa's own struggle for liberation.
At a time when not just South Africa but the world is recovering from one of the worst crises in modern times, the Diwali story of the triumph of light over darkness resonates deeply with us all, Ramaphosa said.
Just as the epic tale of the victory of Lord Ram and Lady Sita has inspired people for millennia, equally inspiring is the history of a community who overcame the hardship and cruelty of indenture to thrive and prosper, he added.
May the sight of rows of lit diyas in homes, businesses and places of worship over Deepavali remind us all that even amidst the darkness of the pandemic, there is light and that we shall indeed overcome, Ramaphosa concluded.