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A gamut of festivities in Durban

Durban is set for a fun-filled weekend with a host of festivities, including the Festival of Chariots celebrated by the Indian community.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 14:35 IST

The South African city of Durban is set for a fun-filled weekend with a host of festivities planned including the Festival of Chariots, the biggest event for the over one million-strong Indian community in the country.

The biggest draw in this long Easter weekend, the Festival of Chariots, is organised by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) at the Bay of Plenty. Over 200,000 people from different religions are expected to attend this event that starts Saturday morning.

The event is held along the lines of the famous Rath Yatra of Puri in Orissa. Huge chariots bearing the idols of the three deities - Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra - will be paraded through the main streets of Durban.

This year, the parade will start from Durban City Hall and will end at the beachfront. Fireworks, food stalls, stalls selling clothes and other accessories and various performances by local talent will mark the event.

The event, which has been celebrated annually for the past 17 years, is billed as the biggest free-cultural festival in South Africa.

Due to the overwhelming response to this event, this year the organisers are planning to hold a repeat parade on Monday evening.

Besides the Festival of Chariots, thousands of people are expected to attend traditional Easter prayers in churches. The churches in Isipingo and Mount Edgecombe are especially big draws.

In addition, centenary celebrations for one of Durban's most revered mosques, the Habibia Soofie Darbaar, are already on. The programmes, which started on Thursday, will conclude on Sunday.

Islamic religious discourses, qawwali singing and prayers are among the various events being held.

The mosque, one of the many set up by the Muslim saint Hazrat Soofie, was built in 1906.

Another big event is the 'Splashy Fen' music festival, which started on Thursday and will go on till Monday.

Held near Durban in the southern Drakensberg hills, the event showcases folk, light folk, rock and black music styles such as Mbaqanga and Iscathamiya, besides mainstream and alternative rock and pop. Only original music is played in this festival.