19 November 2012

Rwanda: Indian Community Celebrates Diwali

There was pomp at Green Hills Academy premises on Saturday evening as hundreds of members of the Indian community resident in Rwanda marked the annual Diwali festival.

The five-day festival of lights or "rows of lighted lamps" honours Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and prosperityand falls between mid October and mid November annually, but this year, the celebrations began on Tuesday and ended Saturday last week.

"Diwali is a time for both reflection and celebration. Its stories and rituals focus on the triumph of light over darkness and compassion over hatred," said Patel Ritesh, the Chairman, Hindu Mandal of Rwanda, the organisers of the event during an interview with The New Times.

Ritesh added that the celebrations start on the day of 'Amavasyaa', when there is no moonlight with darkness all around.

The festival signifies the renewal of life and the promise of prosperity for the year to come. It also marks the end of the harvest season in which farmers give thanks for their bounty and pray for a good harvest in future years.

The celebrations were characterised by decorations with bright, cone-shaped and colourful lights and spiced up by several Indian musicians.

Patel said this was the first time the Diwali festival had formally been celebrated in Rwanda.

In India and other countries with a substantial population of the Indian community, the day is considered a public holiday.

About 1,500 Indians live in Rwanda.

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