Bollywood stars shine at South African Diwali celebrations

Bollywood stars Upen Patel, Celina Jaitley and Kim Sharma initially upstaged African National Congress President Jacob Zuma when they all appeared at a massive Diwali festival organised by the Rameshwar Mahadev Mandir, in the suburb of Lenasia, south of Johannesburg, Tuesday evening.

But Zuma, who got lesser applause than the Bollywood stars, turned the tables on them with a better short speech than any of them after all three artists had made short addresses to the crowd, each with a customary politically correct message of loving their fans.

"I am away from my family for Diwali, but I am overwhelmed by the support here and seeing so many Indians - it's like I'm back at home," a clearly delighted Sharma told the crowd.

Jaitley urged them to go and support her latest film, "Golmaal Returns", which she said was releasing on Wednesday, even though cinemas here are only planning to start showing it from the weekend.

Zuma, apologising for being late because he had been delayed in a neighbouring province, made it clear that he had come to the festival only to wish everyone a happy Diwali.

"It is always wonderful for all of us to do our traditions and our customs and to be proud of what we are as people of different nationalities. It's absolutely important," Zuma said.

"I'm happy to be with you this evening - Happy Diwali!"
Crowds cheered and clawed from behind barriers to shake the hands of Patel and Jaitley, but the lesser-known Sharma went largely unnoticed.

The Bollywood artists, brought here by the Gupta family, originally from India who now run one of the largest IT companies in South Africa, Sahara Computers. It has become a Diwali tradition for several years now for Sahara to sponsor Bollywood artists and a huge fireworks display at the Diwali Festival.

Patel thrilled two girls from the audience as he pulled them onto stage to dance with him, but aside from two impromptu lines from a song by Jaitley, there was no performance from the actresses. Credit : IANS

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