Diwali Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa

by Lynda Wilson

The annual Diwali Festival held in Johannesburg, South Africa, celebrates the Hindu New Year. Often called the Festival of Lights, the event includes arts, crafts, music, dance and traditional Hindu cuisine in a Bollywood-style celebration. With a record of over 40,000 attendees in 2010, the Diwali Festival is an increasingly popular Johannesburg cultural event.


Diwali, also known as Deepavali, means “Row of Lights” in Sanskrit. The ceremony involves lighting small clay lamps knows as diyas to signify the triumph of good over evil, which marks the beginning of the Hindu lunar new year. Diwali is celebrated in many countries in the world with Hindu populations. The celebration lasts for five days; the primary Festival of Lights is held on the third day. Diwali falls annually sometime in October or November. It is celebrated on Amayasya, the 15th day of the Hindu month of Ashwin.


The Johannesburg Diwali Festival is held in Mary Fitzgerald Square in the Newtown Precinct of Johannesburg. Newton is often considered the creative hub of Johannesburg, offering world-class theater, dance, music and art. The festival runs morning until late in the evening and admission is free.


The Diwali Festival is a time for celebration, dance, entertainment and good food. The festival boasts over 80 food stalls with foods that range from authentic South Indian Keralan cuisine to traditional South African food such as samosas, fried corn, curries and bunnies, which are hollowed-out loaves of bread with a curry filling.

Events and Entertainment

A day at the Johannesburg Diwali Festival is filled with events and entertainment. Visitors shop for bargains and unusual items sold by numerous vendors offering their wares. Local musicians entertain the crowd with traditional Hindu music, and art exhibits line the streets. Pamper yourself with holistic Indian treatments or a massage at the mini-spas that take part in the festival. Entertainment for children includes creative competitions, balloon sculptures and stilt walkers that roam the festival grounds. As evening approaches, the major attractions get underway and world-class dance troupes take the stage. The evening ends with a fireworks display that is part of the Diwali tradition.

About the Author

Lynda Wilson has been sharing her knowledge with web readers for over 10 years. She currently owns and operates online travel websites covering travel to Mexico. Her past experience includes operating a Spanish school in Mexico, as well as directing graduate admissions at a major U.S. university. Lynda holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Minnesota.

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