Pretoria — President Jacob Zuma has wished the Hindu community a happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year.
Diwali is celebrated today.
"We wish all Hindu, Tamil, Gujarati and other communities a Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year. This festival reminds us of the rich and unique cultural diversity of the South African nation.
"The Indian community has contributed immensely to the success of this country and has always been part of the quest for unity, cohesion and the success of the country and its people.
"Together, we wish them success and prosperity as they celebrate this joyous day", said President Jacob Zuma.
Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet has also wished the Hindu community well.
"As they celebrate this greatly anticipated event in the Hindu calendar, I call on them to continue strengthening family ties and helping those in need in their communities. For a number of decades, the Indian community has embodied the true values of Ubuntu by providing assistance to needy communities.
"As a unique province with a diverse cultural heritage, we trust that the Hindu community continues to celebrate the Diwali Festival and ensure that it is preserved for future generations," Kiviet said.
In South Africa, Diwali is celebrated in a day, while in India festivities go on for five days.
Diwali, which is celebrated by Hindus worldwide, has a great significance other than inducing mouths to water. Also known as Deepavali, the festival's spiritual meaning is about being aware of the inner light that everyone has, according to Hinduism.
It also encourages light to triumph over darkness and good over evil. Therefore, as a symbolic gesture, rows of lamps are lit on the night of the celebration.
Depending on families' traditions, different prayers to deities are offered during the day. This occurs after a bath, using three oils, is taken.
There are several stories around the origin of the festival, but the message of love, compassion, growth and peace echoes in unison.
If you had to go into any Hindu home during this festive period, there is an abundance of sweet meats and traditional food.
The preparations begin at least a week before the main day of the celebration. Normally, women shop for all the ingredients to make intricate treats that are enjoyed by families and distributed to relatives and neighbours.
Various organisations around the country hold annual celebrations a week before the actual event because the day itself is reserved for family.
But with the festival comes the lighting of fireworks, and every year this practice has animal right groups and pet owners up in arms.
People celebrating the festival, especially the youth, have been urged to practice caution when lighting fireworks.