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Diwali was celebrated under African skies at Gold Reef City in Gauteng this past Sunday, 11 November 2012. Indianspice hosted their first independent celebration of Deepavali which was a resounding success! South Africans and tourists alike were given an opportunity to participate in the Hawan Puja (fire cleansing ceremony).
The festival held indoors on the rooftop of Gold Reef City was the perfect venue for the festival with an atmosphere of a typical rooftop market bazaar and entertainment.
The rites were performed by Pundit Sanjay Pandya and Festival Director Naufal Khan. The opening ritual was received warmly by all as the officiating priest explained the meaning of each element of the ritual as prayer was performed. Artists, visitors and traders took the opportunity to participate in the prayer which lasted more than an hour.
The entertainment kicked off with non-stop performances from a host of local artists of various dance companies and a line-up of seasoned vocalists. The Indianspice team were joined by the cast of Eastern Mosaic presenters and the EM Generation Next finalists.
The ever popular Aunty Rumba made an appearance with her
signature Milady shopping bag at the festival to the surprise of visitors who love the charming lady who graces their screens every Sunday on Eastern Mosaic. The festival at Gold Reef City saw friends, family and celebrities on unofficial visits to the festival to share the light with Indianspice. Miss India South Africa, Koshicka Singh also spent the better part of the day with the festival goers.
Visitors enjoyed an array of shopping opportunities for the last minute Diwali rush, Henna artists were left with queues of women waiting for their chance to have their Henna artwork done until late hours of the evening. Popular eatery and confectionary specialists, Shayona were kept busy from the morning till late evening with their signature meals and sweetmeats being served constantly. Naickers Durban Curry, a popular Durban style restaurant had guests queuing up for their food. A final count of plates served over 7000 plates between the 2 popular food outlets.
The festival had guests entertained with the likes of Sans Moonsamy and Kaseran Pillay of Those Indian Guys
and their alter ego’s Saras and Vincent who had guests in stitches as they ripped into visitors over Diwali. MC’s incuded Cape Town’s suave Mishal Mookrey, Gauteng’s Mohammed Nassuirio and DJ Zuby of Mumbai were the life and soul of the stage. Nassuirio pulled off impressive moves as he had children scrambling on stage to perform the popular Gangnam style dance routine. Lee Cooper one of the sponsors of the festival dished out loads of their summer range shirts to the visitors and their Back to School bags that were a hit with visitors.
The Diwali festival commissioned by Ganesha Communications and Indianspice in aid of 2 beneficiaries Anavarata Dance Institute and the Thuthuzela Home for Children also offered the South African Community of various cultural, humanity, religious and NPO organizations the platform to participate in the festival at no cost to educate, promote and share the light with fellow South Africans and tourists. The program included a diverse appeal of performances that encompassed varied cultures of the world where Indians have a presence in foreign countries. From the Mauritian Sega to Bharata Natyam, visitors to the festival were treated to variety of performances that had guests glued to the their seats.
Anavarata Dance Institute was commissioned to perform key dance and story telling items which was a tremendous feat as they pulled off almost 16 items with over 60 costume changes. The energy on stage with performing artists left guests in awe as the festival produced a series of never before seen dance items that blended multi-cultural and multi-faith performances from Murugan Bhakti (South Indian devotion to Lord Muruga) intertwined with Muslim Sufi Qawal (Muslim chanting).
This first ever Kavady performance that saw how harmony of music can be reflected in dance and storytelling. A magical moment as Anavarata Dance Institute male principal dancer performed the Vel dance with a Sufi dancer swirling endlessly around him as other dancers vibrating energy as they performed fluid movements of having real Kavady’s on their shoulders as they danced in praise of Lord Muruga and Allah (SWT). Another key performance that had the positive acknowledgement of the audience was the Ganesha Invocation and the welcome of Lord Rama and Sita with their devotees onto stage, sharing the light and stories of various deities of the Hindu faith. The performance showcased various dance disciplines of India from Odissi, Kathak, Bharata Natyam to traditional village dances of India.
The Tashan group of children had the stage alight in honor of India with their One Country, Many Cultures performance. Krsna Balarama Youth Group shared the beautiful storytelling and divine chanting that had the crowd interacting with the group on stage with a stunning tale of dance by Yoginee Sharma. Key vocalists included Javed Khan with the voice of Kishore Kumar, Sandy Govender, Sufi singer Renu Joshi, Gona Pillay, Gilbert Reddy and Roja Naidoo had guests on their feet as they sang a medley of songs ranging from North Indian and South Indian classical, bollywood and contemporary songs. The audience were up on their feet as popular Roja Naidoo belted out the popular chutney songs as well. Tina Kapp of Oriental Fire performed a breathtaking sword dance that had the audience in awe. Seasoned dance group, Sitaare Lenasia blew the crowd away with their Bollywood and Hip Hop performances. Founder of Sitaare and principal dance teacher, Anisha Bramdaw led her cast of dancers to a resounding round of applause from visitors as they performed non stop. Sivakalay dance academy graced the Indianspice stage with the beauty of pure Bharata Natyam moves and captured the hearts of the audience. Upcoming talent included Kavishan Dance, Govenders Empire, Moksha, Rhythm Scapes had guests appreciative of the showcase of talent that had been commissioned by the Festival.
The festival would not have been possible without the support of sponsors, Gold Reef City, Coca-Cola, ABI, HKR Printers, Lee Cooper, Eastern Mosaic, Thava and Sanitech. Friends of Diwali include LEADSA, Fidelity Security, GOPIO, SABC2, LotusFM, Tania Du Plessis, JYM Sound and Lighting, Wedding Delite decor by Chetna and Sailesh and all volunteers who had come together to celebrate the Festival of Lights with Indianspice.
The Indianspice festivals are set to go out nationally in 2013 to encompass the vision of integrating the varied communities of South Africa on what Diwali means for South Africa and Africa as a whole as the central message of Diwali is the dispelling of darkness with the power of light. Diwali in Mzansi is a concept that aims to encourage social cohesion through our immensely beautiful cultures, music, dance, food and literature.