Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has extended warm wishes to all Hindu and Tamil communities ahead of the Diwali weekend.
"I take this opportunity to wish members of these communities a Happy Diwali and a prosperous New Year."
He said the lighting of lamps to dispel darkness was indicative of the victory of good over evil. "May this triumph of light over darkness manifest itself in your everyday lives and those of all South Africans."
Zuma said this auspicious time should bring together families and communities and strengthen the bonds between them.
"We should also use this opportunity to spread the light of forgiveness and kindness, and reach out to those less fortunate than us. Let the spirit of Diwali guide our actions throughout the coming year.
"This wonderful occasion should signal a new beginning for our country and our nation.
"I wish you a Happy Diwali and Happy New Year," Zuma said.
Bright fireworks are expected to light up the sky and houses around the country will be decorated with small burning lamps as the Hindu community holds its biggest annual celebration this weekend.
A Diwali celebration is taking place at Brightwater Commons, in Randburg, from 5pm on Saturday.
Activities include a Bollywood Bash, featuring traditional dancers from Spicy Bollywood and India Club; Ruchita Rekha of Sony TV fame; singers from India; and an up-coming performer from Z-TV Sarigama Little Champs.
After the performances, there will be a Light Your Hearts Diwali Lighting Ceremony at 7pm; candles will be provided. A Bhangra Party will follow, with dancing and a live deejay. The evening will end with a laser show from 8pm to 9pm.
Then, on Sunday from 1pm to 2pm, there will be Bollywood singing and dancing. Included will be a spectacular performance by a bhangra dance troupe all the way from India. On offer throughout the celebrations will be an array of delicious traditional foods.
"This not-to-be-missed event will give the Indian community an opportunity to commemorate one of their most important festivals, while allowing Westerners to experience the beauty, richness and diversity of Indian culture," says Kie.
With fireworks being such an intrinsic part of the weekend, pets and other wildlife must be taken into consideration.
Asheena Surajpal, a veterinarian at the Joburg SPCA, encourages people to keep all pets, not only dogs, indoors over Diwali, with the lights dimmed and curtains closed.
Animals often become afraid and run uncontrollably when fireworks go off, since they hear the noise three to 10 times louder than humans, she said.
Children should be educated about the effects of fireworks on animals so that they can understand that it is harmful.
The vet has urged people to report to the SPCA any stray animals running in the street. The society will collect these animals. The Johannesburg SPCA can be contacted on (011) 681-3600.