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Now Hindus join Muslims to celebrate Eid in South Africa

The harmony could be a catalyst for reviving Hindus and Muslims celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr and Diwali together.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2005 12:58 IST

The first 'Eid milap and mushaira' (community Eid and poetry recital) hosted here could well serve as a catalyst for reviving the tradition of Hindus and Muslims celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr and Diwali together in South Africa.

This unique get-together was hosted by the Indian High Commission at the residence of Indian consul general in Johannesburg Suresh Goel Saturday night.

Said Mohamed Hassan Sirkhot, chairman of the Benoni branch of Buzme Adab, an Urdu promotion society: "In the late 60s and early 70s, South African Muslims and Hindus got together to host mushaira functions across the country to celebrate Eid and Diwali.

"Often, well-known poets from India joined local writers and reciters and presented poetry, songs, as well as ghazals, honouring the two religions," Sirkhot said.

He hoped this would happen again after the Buzme Adab, which had become inactive in the past decade or so, branches in almost all areas of South Africa.

Indian High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal lauded Deputy High Commissioner Banashri Harrison and Suresh Goel for their initiative in hosting this inaugural Eid milap.

The highlight of the evening was rendition of a poem in Urdu by Zohra Saloojee, a third generation member of a Gujarati family that was involved in the liberation struggle of South Africa.

Written by Zohra's mother Rookaya, the poem told how Madiba (a popular term for Nelson Mandela) had emerged triumphant from 27 years of imprisonment to become a world leader.

The themes of other poets ranged from fostering brotherhood and love for the motherland to beautiful odes to the beauty of women.

A popular local qawwali group - Sayed Hajee and party - said it was "unusual" for them to perform the traditional music form standing up rather than seated and placing their harmonium and tablas on a table in front of them.

But they said they were overwhelmed playing at an event where Muslims and Hindus enjoyed their music under the same roof.

Undeterred by the gloomy weather, the guests kept urging the participants to provide more, as eager chefs and waiters waited to serve up a variety of Indian cuisine especially prepared for the occasion.

Earlier in the week, a historic Diwali celebration was held at the Constitutional Hill here, where both Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were once held as political prisoners.

First Published: Nov 07, 2005 12:58 IST