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S. African Hindu youth lauded for hosting big religious gathering

S. African Hindu youth lauded for hosting big religious gathering

Author: Fakir Hassen, Johannesburg
Publication: India Abroad
Date: April 21, 2001

Fifteen South African Hindu youth organizations that pooled their resources to present possibly the biggest religious gathering in the mainly Indian area of Lenasia, south of here, have been lauded by visitors from many countries across the world.

The organizations, under the banner of the Hindu Youth of South Africa, are hosting Ram Kathas or recitals of the story of Hindu Lord Ram by well-known Indian saint Morari Bapu at one of the cricket grounds in Lenasia. The event has been attracting more than 5,000 people everyday since it started last Saturday. It will continue until April 22.

Daily recitals by Morari Bapu take place between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and there are a host of related activities as well. "We have attended Ram Kathas at many places in India, including one in Baroda in Gujarat state that attracted over 800,000 people, but this one beats all those in terms of organization," said brothers-in-law Ravindra Joshi and Kalpesh Purohit, who are priests at the Pietermaritzburg Radha Krishna Temple and the Laxmi Narayan Temple in Durban, respectively.

The two, originally from Gujarat, have been here for the last six years and said that there should be a similar event at least twice a year, with one being in the Durban area, where the majority of South Africa's 1.2 million Indians live.

A prominent community leader from Gujarat, Maheshbhai Kothari, who was instrumental in getting the very popular Morari Bapu to agree to come to South African and works actively with the youth in India, said he was very proud of the local Hindu youth.

"The way that our youth here have taken care of our cultural heritage, I have not seen in other parts of the world. It has been beyond my expectations. Even though we get a huge response when Bapu visits places such as England from the youth, it is nowhere near what we are seeing here in South Africa. Even in India, although we have so many young people, we are not happy with the way they are going, yet here in South Africa with its limited population they are doing our heritage proud," Kothari said.

He added that the approximately 300 youth followers of Morari Bapu who had come to the Lenasia event from such countries as Britain, Canada, India, Kenya, New Zealand and the United States at their own expense were unanimous in their decision that South African Hindu youth showed an interest in the religion that could serve as an example for the Hindu youth in those countries in organizing an event of this magnitude.

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