Gandhi, a cultural heritage for Durban

The Indian people first arrived in Natal(now called KwaZulu Natal) as labourers who had left poverty-stricken Bengal in search of work on the ever-growing sugarcane fields of Natal.

As the demand for sugar grew, so did the need for Indian labour and a total of 152 000 Indians were brought to Natal. Durban now has one of the largest Indian communities in the world, second only to India itself!

Over the years, as white supremacy grew in South Africa, the plight of the Indians attracted the attention of Mohandes Ghandi, who arrived and settled in Natal in 1893.

gandhi culture durban

Repeatedly a victim of racism himself, Ghandi made it his mission to initiate Satyagraha – which is the philosophy of non-violent (or “passive”) resistance. He would later make this philosophy famous as the tool used to force the end of the British Raj – but it was first wielded against racial injustice in South Africa.

Having the biggest Indian community of South Africa, Durban releases a multicultural atmosphere with its numerous rites and Indian traditions which we find always today.

After several years of passive action and numerous arrests, Gandhi succeeded in improving the situation. 13 tax lawscompulsory for the Indian workers were abolished, marriages celebrated according to the Indian customs were legalised and the laws governing entrance to South Africa became simpler.

Ghandi was hugely instrumental in improving the plight of the Indian community in KwaZulu Natal and it’s now a thriving community with a rich history!

XO Africa advises you :

When organising your trip to Natal, make a point of planning it around one of the beautiful and authentic Indian festivals. My personal favourite is the Diwali festival, also called Festival of Lights, which symbolises “the quest for inner light”. Diwali falls on the one new moon night (Amavasya) between mid-October and mid-November. Diwali is celebrated for five days according to the lunisolar. During these 5 days, streets and houses are illuminated; people offer presents to each other and the skies are alight with fireworks. It’s beautiful and festive.

Amélie Fages

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