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CS Monica Juma issues directions on celebrating Diwali

Strict instructions to Kenyans planning to celebrate Diwali

Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma

President William Ruto’s National Security Advisor and Energy CS Monica Juma has issued directions on how Kenyans celebrating Diwali should conduct fireworks displays.

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Diwali is celebrated by the Hindu community and will be taking place on October 24, 2022. The celebrations often involve fireworks.

Juma asked those celebrating the holiday to be mindful of their neighbours.

Consequently, the Hindu community is requested to ensure that fireworks displays are carried out within the requirements of the Explosives Act, Cap 115 of the Laws of Kenya.

Fireworks displays should be carried out in an orderly manner so that members of the general public are not inconvenienced,” she said in a notice.

Those planning to celebrate Diwali are expected to obtain licenses to conduct the fireworks displays from the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining offices across the country.

The notice also dictated that fireworks are used only at authorised venues such as clubs, hotels, temples, sports grounds, school compounds or any other venue as may be authorised by an Inspector of Explosives.

They must also ensure that the displays are held between 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm only during the authorised dates, display shells are limited to a maximum of four-inch calibre in all venues in urban and built-up areas except as may be exempted by an Inspector of Explosives in writing and that only qualified, experienced and sober persons shall be allowed to fire aerial shells,” she said.

Juma warned that fireworks should not be sold to or handled by children below 13 years old since it would be a contravention of the Explosives Act.

Over the last few days, many Kenyans have wondered whether the country will observe Diwali as a public holiday.

According to Google Trends, interest in Diwali grew in the last seven days by nearly 100%, with the most searched query on Google being: Is Monday a public holiday in Kenya?

However, by Friday evening (October 21, 2022), the Ministry of Interior had not gazetted the day as a public holiday, suggesting that Monday, October 24, 2022, would be a normal working day for kenyans who don't subscribe to the Hindu faith.

For the last three years the Ministry of Interior has had to refute reports that the day had been gazetted as a public holiday.

According to tradition, it is unlikely that things will change in 2022 and as such, Kenyans will be expected to continue with their normal schedules.

Lasting over five days, the holiday is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs worldwide.

The name of this festival is derived from ‘avali,’ which means ‘row,’ and ‘deepa,’ meaning ‘clay lamps.’

When merged, these words mean ‘a row of lights.’ For this reason, lights are symbolic of this festival and Indians go overboard with sparklers and fireworks to fuel the inner light that spiritually protects them from the darkness.

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