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South African Indians celebrate thanksgiving

South Africa's Telugu community hosted their annual Ram Bhajan thanksgiving function for the 10th consecutive year in the Indian area of Lenasia.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2006 12:14 IST

There may be no crops to harvest in Johannesburg but that did not deter South Africa's Telugu community from hosting their annual Ram Bhajan thanksgiving function for the 10th consecutive year.

The event was organised by the Transvaal Andhra Sabha, the representative body for Telugu-speaking people, in the sprawling mainly Indian area of Lenasia, south of here.

Sam Naidoo, president of the Sabha, said the event was essentially a thanksgiving prayer on the lines of the one held in Andhra Pradesh at harvest time.

In India, the crop harvest is marked in all states with special prayers to god, the sun, the earth and cattle.

"Although the seasons are exactly the opposite between India and South Africa, and we do not have harvesting here, the tradition of giving thanks to Lord Ram for everything in our lives has continued here.

"It's essentially about identity - ensuring that we continue to observe the universal tradition of thanksgiving no matter where you are in the world or what your religious affiliation is, which is why we get people from all walks of life attending," Naidoo added.

"We have a lot of people who have moved to this region from Durban, which is why we have attendance by so many people not just from the Telugu community but many other communities as well," said Naidoo.

The Andhra community is a minority here, with most of them settled around Durban, where the first Indians arrived in 1860 as indentured sugarcane labourers.

"Since we started it on a small scale a decade ago, it has become a much-awaited event in the Hindu community," Naidoo added.

The members of the Transvaal Andhra Sabha Bhajan Group, mostly young men, led the proceedings with non-stop religious recitals until midnight. A sumptuous dinner followed.

First Published: Feb 08, 2006 12:08 IST