Diwali: Which day is the holiday?

2008-10-17 00:00

There is still confusion over the dates that the Hindu religious festival of Deepavali/ Diwali will be celebrated this year. Officially, schools, universities and other educational institutions will be closed on Monday, October 27, for the religious festival.

However, South Africans of North Indian origin who celebrate Diwali (the Hindi word for the festival of light) a day after South Africans of South Indian origin celebrate Deepavali (the Tamil word) are free to hold celebrations on October 28.

The SA Hindu Maha Sabha’s (Sahma) public relations officer Kovilan Ramsamy said a resolution was passed between it and other major religious organisations that for the purposes of a public holiday, they would alternate the festival dates between North and South Indian days of observance every year. “Last year the North Indian date was used as a day for the public holiday.

This year, our official date … is October 27, which is the date South Indians will celebrate Deepavali,” he said.

Ramsamy’s explanation is endorsed by Bala Naidoo, President of the Tamil Federation of KZN. Both Ramsamy and Naidoo said that individuals are free to negotiate the day off with their employer in accordance with the day they wish to celebrate the occasion.

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