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Diwali brings traffic to standstill in J'burg

More than 10,000 people attended the Newtown Diwali Festival which showcased Zulu dance combined with Kathak and Bharatanatyam.

india Updated: Oct 24, 2005 13:08 IST

Traffic came to a standstill on South Africa's busiest freeway as a celebration related to Diwali in the heart of the city's cultural and art hub attracted more than 10,000 people on Saturday.

The "Newtown Diwali Festival" proved to be a huge success, as Zulu dance came combined with Kathak and Bharatanatyam. Performers in flowing, colourful costumes presented a unique fusion of Indian elegance and traditional African imagery where the guitar found a place next to the Mridingam.

Making the event more cosmopolitan was the sponsorship of one of the best and longest fireworks displays in Johannesburg by a local Chinese businessman, who preferred to remain anonymous.

Members of the Gauteng Indian Dance Alliance (GIDA) presented a dazzling performance amidst mesmerising melodies in the event that was the brainchild of Nisha Moodley, a marketing manager for the Johannesburg City Council.

The festival also gave a chance for the thousands of fans to catch a glimpse of some of their favourite local Indian television and radio personalities.

However, there was more to the festival than entertainment. It also had workshops on different Indian and African dance styles and arts and crafts. Besides, there was a demonstration of Reiki, astrology, aromatherapy and yoga. Women had a taste of Diwali and Indian culture at a sari-draping workshop.

Moodley, project manager for the "Newtown Diwali Festival", said they plan is to make it an annual event.

"The Hindu community has its historical place in the cultural tapestry of South Africa, and is proud to showcase some of the key elements that are so unique and special at this Newtown event."

Subashni Naidoo, a television presenter and the coordinator for the festival, said the event had turned out to be beyond anyone's expectations.

"It was a great opportunity to not only learn about our own cultures but also to share it with other cultures and for us to learn about other cultures as well. If we can come together to celebrate the universal values that Diwali epitomises, then skin colour or culture does not have to divide us," Naidoo said.

"The highlight for me was the coming together of all the schools from all the language groups from all over Gauteng province. We had children dancing everything from Bollywood to Bharatanatyam."

First Published: Oct 24, 2005 13:08 IST