South Africa -
- an estimated 250,000 Tamils live in South Africa -
about 70% in Kwazulu-Natal
Durban Tamils protest against Sri Lanka's Rights violations
[TamilNet, June 24, 2006 ]
Representatives of the Tamil Co-ordinating Committee of South Africa (TCC),
members of organizations supporting human rights in South Africa, and expatriate
Tamils staged a peaceful march and placard demonstration in front of the Durban
City Hall, South Africa Friday 23rd June 2006. More than 200 people protested
the human rights violations of the Sri Lanka Government against Tamil civilians
and European Union’s proscription of the LTTE, organizers of the event said.
Protesters carried placards and shouted slogans highlighting the human rights
violations, including the
recent murder of civilians in Mannar and Jaffna, carried out by the Sri
Lankan armed forces. This demonstration was organized by Tamil
Co-ordinating Committee of South Africa (TCC).
South African Tamils join protest against EU ban, 29 May 2006
[see also Tamils demonstrate in
Hundreds of Tamils braved the cold winter evening in Durban South Africa to
joined in solidarity with fellow Tamils across the world Monday to voice their
objection to the impending ban of Liberation Tigers by the European Union. The
protest demonstration was held at the Magazine Barracks Temple, Durban was
organized by the Tamil Co-ordinating committee of South Africa.
Concerned Tamils and supporters of human rights held placards in silence. The
placards highlighted the human rights violations by the Sri Lankan Government
and demanded that the Government of Sri Lanka stop the Genocide of Tamils in Sri
A memorandum was handed to Dr K.V Moodley, who attended as a representative of
the department of Foreign Affairs of South Africa.
The memorandum was an appeal to the foreign affairs ministry of South Africa to
assist in finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Northeast Sri Lanka.
Dr KV Moodley, a stalwart of the African National Congress (ANC) assured all
present that the memorandum will reach the Foreign Ministry and that the ANC as
well as the Government of South Africa will make every effort to assist in the
resolution of the conflict in Sri Lanka.
Tamil Hindus in KawZulu-Natal (South Africa):
History, Identity and the Establishment of Their Place in the New South Africa
Alleyn Diesel (University of Natal at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa)
Paper presented at
18th Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions
5.-12. August 2000, Durban (South Africa)
"The language groups represented among the Hindu
immigrants who came from India to Natal, South Africa, from 1860 onwards,
are Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, and Gujarati, with Tamil people forming the
majority. After the expiry of their indentures most of these Indians moved
to the cities, becoming established as a thoroughly urban population.
However, because of the apartheid system the majority tended to remain poor,
with few opportunities for improvement. The forced removals programme caused
great disruption, and social hardship for Indian people. The extended family
system was largely destroyed, with negative consequences for many, resulting
in various social problems.
Apartheid seriously alienated all Indians as
disenfranchised "non-whites", and Hinduism in particular was perceived by
many whites as antithetical to Christianity. However, numerous Tamil
cultural organisations are presently helping people to recover knowledge of
the vernacular, and to take pride in their ancient and rich tradition. For
many individual Hindus, a new awareness of their Tamil heritage could be
powerfully inspirational and healing. Within the new democratic SA many are
also beginning to feel comfortable with their SA citizenship, although, for
many, there are still strong feelings of uncertainty about not benefiting
sufficiently from the recent democratic initiatives, and their knowledge
that the Indian community will continue to be a minority.
Over the 140 years of residence in South Africa,
participation in religion and its many festivals has brought devotees a
valuable sense of identity and solidarity, especially in the light of their
marginalization and the discrimination experienced under the apartheid
system. A recent resurgence of interest in indigenous Tamil/Dravidian
festivals seems to reflect a variety of religious, social and political
concerns. It is possible that this Tamil "renaissance" could have both
positive and negative effects on the integration of this community into the
larger SA society."
Kavadi in the South African Cult of Murukan - Dr. Sarres
(abstract of paper presented at the
Murukan Conference, Kuala Lumpur 2-5 November 2003)
indentured Indians who left India, the cradle of Hindu culture and mother of
Hindu tradition, arrived in South Africa during the second half of the 19th
Century. They brought with them a historic culture which was distinct from the
dominant Western and indigenous black cultures in modes of worship and
philosophy. Thus were the seeds of Hindu religio-cultural expression, which
embraced a plethora of oral traditions, rituals and festivals, transplanted into
a fecund African and colonial environment.
Despite their lack of literacy and schooling, the influences of Western and
other cultures, the strictures and obstructions of the colonial and apartheid
eras, and a profusion of socio-political and economic difficulties, these
custodians of Hindu culture have retained their identity. These pioneers could
not have imagined how their simple wood and iron temples would mushroom into
major religious monuments symbolizing ultimate enlightenment.
Their committed perseverance gave rise to the birth of many Murugan temples
which today stand as beacons of Hindu culture catering for the religious needs
of the Murugan worshippers in the Kwa Zulu-Natal, Gauteng and Cape Provinces of
South Africa. Amongst the many Murugan Temples in South Africa, the Sri Siva
Soobramaniar Temple in Brake Village, Tongaat, and the Shree Siva Subramaniar
Temple in Melrose truly enjoy the status of "pilgrim centres" where devotees
assemble to pay homage to Lord Muruga.
Today, 142 years later, the unbroken continuity of the Murugan cult in South
Africa has become an important component of popular Hinduism. This is evidenced
when a vast assembly of Murugan worshippers from all walks of life gather to pay
obeisance to Lord Muruga and fulfill their vows during the Tai Pucam, Sithiraa
Paruvam and Punkuni Uttiram Kavadi festivals. The growing popularity of the
Kavadi festivals also attracts observers from other ethnic milieus in a
multi-cultural South Africa, including devotees from the black community.
Devotees ascribe the growth of kavadi to the benefits that the kavadi bearer
experiences in the form of better health, which many call a "new life",
spiritual attainment and material prosperity.
This paper will investigate the Murugan cult in South Africa with special
emphasis on the kavadi ritual as practiced at two historic temples viz. The
Panguni Uththiram Kavady Festival as practised at the Sri Siva Soobramaniar
Temple in Brake Village, Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal and the Tai Pucam Kavady
Festival as practised at the Shree Siva Subramaniar Temple in Melrose, Gauteng.
In this context the pre-Kavady rituals, the main kavadi festival and the
post-kavadi rituals will be dealt with. The paper will also include a brief
synopsis of Skanda Sasthi as well as other Murugan cult practices not undertaken
at the above-mentioned temples. The presentation will include visual information
on the important Murugan shrines found in South Africa. A documentary
video-recording of the kavadi festival and its component rituals as practiced at
Brake Village will form part of the presentation.