Tamil Federation Mislead South African Hindus Over Diwali

A dispute over dates for the Diwali holiday this year seems set to continue as it does each year, this time the South African Tamil Federation has created furore over the festival in South Africa.

The Federation had issued an official statement this past week proclaiming that Diwali is a public holiday however the South African Hindu Maha Sabha has rejected this statement where they have been included as part of the announcement.

The official dates of Diwali are as follows:

  • Wednesday, 18 October , 2017 – Deepavali (South Indians)
  • Thursday, 19 October, 2017 – Diwali (North Indians)

The statement by the SATF has created mass confusion for the public who have used the document to justify their leave day at places of employment and to seek leave for children at educational institutions.

The statement read as follows:

To alleviate confusion of the forthcoming Deepavali Celebrations, the President of the South African Tamil Federation, Mr Marie Pillay-Ramaya would like to re-iterate the festival dates and arrangement with the South African Hindu Maha Sabha.

An extracted understanding of the arrangements in continuity (published by the Department of Education – September 2008) outlines the following:

  • A mutually accepted arrangement in September 2008, between the North & South Religious and Cultural Organisations in South Africa, recorded at a public meeting, attended by the South African Tamil Federation, the Natal Tamil Federation, the South African Hindu Maha Sabha and its affiliates, including many other religio-cultural organisations, where it was unanimously decided and resolved that the date for a singular Government public holiday for Deepavali / Diwali will alternate annually between South & North Indian days of observance – this year the public holiday will be on 19th October 2017 (North Indian privilege).

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President of the South African Tamil Federation – Marie Pillay-Ramaya says, for pupils to get the day off – schools would have to formally apply to the Department to have the schools closed for religious observance.

  •  The Department of Education (PD Circular No 39 of 2008 dated 16/10/08) had ratified the above agreement; the circular further requested that all school principals and governing bodies apply to the Department of Education for authority to have schools closed for this religious observance.(1) Government Public Holiday – means, the Department of Education (i.e. schools, training colleges, etc.,) and all Further Education and Training Institutes – FET’s (i.e. universities, technicons, etc.,) will get the day, considered as a paid national public holiday, provided that the principals of these schools and universities formally apply to the Department for authority to have these schools / universities closed for this religious observance.(2) Public Sector Religious Observance – means, at the discretion of work related institutions and companies, who may consider giving their staff off, but considered as unpaid leave or at exceptional instances and dependant on their conditions of employment, a paid holiday in respect of their religious leave entitlement – “however, you are at liberty to renegotiate the day off with your employer in accordance with the day that you wish to celebrate the occasion”.

Click on the link here –> SATF_Divali for the official document from the SA Tamil Federation which has been rejected by the South African Hindu Maha Sabha.


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