Item 1246 - Address by President Nelson Mandela at the UDW Hindu Centre: Deepavali Celebration

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ZA COM MR-S-1246


Address by President Nelson Mandela at the UDW Hindu Centre: Deepavali Celebration


  • 1994-11-06 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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  • English

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Master of Ceremonies;
Honourable leaders of the Hindu community;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

The Hindu saying, Satyameva Jayate - Truth always triumphs, rings even truer today as we assemble to celebrate Deepavali, in a democratic South Africa.

For me personally, this is a most fulfilling experience. I truly feel honoured. I genuinely feel blessed, to join with my fellow country-men and -women of the Hindu faith to mark this holy event.

Deepavali symbolises the triumph of Good over Evil, and of Light over Darkness.

In our country, Good has triumphed over Evil. We are free at last to celebrate Deepavali without the divisions of the past; and with the full backing of the country and all its people and government.

Light has triumphed over Darkness. No longer is any religion officially consigned to the ghetto of the so-called "ungodly", treated as inferior and despised.

By our presence here today, representing the Government of South Africa and the ANC, we are saying in no uncertain terms that the Hindu faith is as much part of South Africa as any other religion.

It deserves equitable treatment in social life. It deserves recognition not only as legitimate; but also as one repository and expression of South African culture. It should be acknowledged for the profound contribution it has made to South African and world civilisation. And we are grateful to the Hindu priests and the community as a whole for your immense contribution to the miracle of reconciliation and national unity that our country is experiencing in full measure today.

I wish all South Africans of Hindu faith a Happy Deepavali and a Prosperous New Year.

I also wish to thank the South African Hindu Maha Sabha for the splendid role you have played to make today's events the success that they promise to be. No less an important role in organising these events was played by the Natal Indian Congress, whose centenary we celebrate this year.

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It has flourished throughout the centuries precisely because of its capacity to give succour and spiritual comfort to millions of its adherents. introduced in South Africa by indentured labourers more than a century ago, the Hindu religion continues today to provide the moral foundation that has bound the community together.

Many altars, temples and shrines, which dot the South African landscape, including this University Hindu Centre, bear testimony to the creative genius, artistic spirit and sense of community that Hinduism embodies. Today, we can say with confidence: continue to flourish, not in spite of adversity; but in the knowledge that freedom of worship and the right to exercise your culture and traditions are part of the democracy to which South Africa is irrevocably committed.

The heritage of struggle against injustice was so eloquently enunciated by Hindu luminaries such as Rabindranath Tagore who sang of the joys of freedom and the heaven where the mind is without fear and the head held high. It was captured in the pronouncements and actions of Mahatma Gandhi, whose formative years as the great apostle of non-violent struggle for freedom and human dignity, were spent in South Africa. We salute him, on this occasion of the 125th anniversary of his birth.

Many patriots have carried this tradition forward: Monty Naicker, Valiamma, Nana Sita, Naran Naidoo and others, including those who today represent all our people in the national and provincial legislatures.

At this time of Deepavali, we remember the Lord Rama who acted in many situations of adversity. His towering example should spur us on as we get down to tackle the difficult task of transforming our society and building a better life for all.

This means joining hands to exercise and protect our rights to preach, promote and practice our religions, culture and customs. it requires that we work together to expand the frontiers of rights as contained in the interim constitution.

This demands that we eschew the enticement of the prophets of fear, who seek of us a behaviour based on exclusion from the rest of our compatriots; a mind-set to see ourselves as a threatened minority rather than as part of the majority of South Africans.

The challenge we face is that we should work together to make reconstruction and development a national effort from which all of us should benefit. And, needless to say, those who were all along excluded, particularly the Indian, Coloured and African communities will have to be afforded opportunities that they were in the past denied.

This applies as much to education - primary, secondary and tertiary - as it does to the opening up of manufacturing, mining, agricultural and other business opportunities. And we are convinced, that as the Indian and other communities have shown under apartheid, you have got the will, the creativity and the spirit of enterprise which will make South Africa a success.

As Government, we are committed to sound economic and monetary policies to ensure that the Reconstruction and Development Programme is accomplished. The steady progress we are making in all areas of life shows that this objective is well within our grasp.

The role of the Hindu community in the economic life of our country has been exemplary. Your spirit of hard work and self-reliance can today, in earnest, stand the whole nation in good stead.

On this joyous occasion, let us capture the spirit of Deepavali and join hands in the journey to a better life. Let us commit our collective energies to ensure that Good befalls all South Africans and that Light shines on our rainbow nation.

A Happy Deepavali to all!
God Bless you all!
And God Bless Africa!

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 21/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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