Diwali in Canada

  • Author tells you about Diwali celebrations in Canada. Never knew of fireworks at Niagara Falls on Diwali.

Diwali (Dīvali, Dīpāwali, or Deepavali) is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated to honor Rama-chandra, the seventh avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. On this day Bhagavan Sri Rama returned to his people in Ayodhya, Bharata (India) after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against Ravana.

 

People light their houses to celebrate his victory over evil (light over darkness). Various deities, especially Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha are worshipped during the five days Diwali festival.

 

Diwali is historically a Hindu religion festival having its origin in the Era of Lord Rama or probably even before that at the time of churning of milky ocean when Goddess Lakshmi came out as the boon to the Devatas and whole humanity.

 

To read numerous reasons why Diwali is celebrated

 

All of them signify the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair.

 

In Canada Diwali is celebrated by Hindu, Sikh and Jain families in our homes and temples and also by communities of other faiths as a vibrant secular Festival of Lights.

 

Diwali is celebrated as per luni-solar based Hindu calendar, its date(s) varies on Gregorian calendar and usually falls in mid-October and mid-November.

 

Diwali is the most significant religious festival for Hindus.

 

Many Canadians celebrate Diwali, which is known as the “Festival of Lights”. It is a joyous festival that attracts plenty of media and public attention in Canada. Various community groups, businesses, schools and associations celebrate Diwali each year. 

 

Some companies have corporate Diwali dinners and some communities organize carnivals or gatherings that feature firework displays. Many Diwali festivals feature dances, street lighting, and plays.

 

Many women wear fine jewelry and silk outfits to celebrate Diwali. Some women and girls use mehendi, which is a temporary henna decoration, on their palms. Many homes that celebrate Diwali have assorted sweets and savories. Various lights, candles and sparklers are lit inside and outside homes, particularly in courtyards, on Diwali.

 

Lamps, fireworks and bonfires illuminate this holiday, as the word “Deepawali” means “a row or cluster of lights” or “rows of diyas (clay lamps)”. The festival symbolizes the victory of righteousness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. The goddess Lakshmi, who symbolizes wealth, happiness and prosperity, is also worshipped during Diwali.

 

For example, the BAPs Swaminarayana Hindu temple organizes Diwali festival in Toronto with pujas and sweets. Celebrations including spectacular fireworks. See the following photos of November 2015 and the beautiful BAPs Toronto Diwali celebration! Photos credit: Baps.org.

 

Fireworks, Diyas and light display at BAPs Toronto. 

Bhaktas at BAPs Toronto temple. 

 Mata Lakshmi at Vishnu Mandir, Richmond Hill, Ontario. 

 

Diwali is not a nationwide public holiday in Canada but it is a large festival celebrated in many towns and cities. There may be traffic congestion and parking places may be full in areas where events are held to celebrate Diwali. Some Indian businesses may close early on Diwali.

 

This year in November 2020, because of Covid, the Canadian Government imposed lockdown restrictions on Diwali so people celebrated at home and the temples celebrated online. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweets Diwali greetings. His tweet lighting the diya.

 

Since Canadians were asked to celebrate Diwali virtually in bid to limit COVID-19 cases, see the online Facebook photos from Vishnu Mandir, Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada Diwali celebration:

 

The goddess of happiness and good fortune, Lakshmi, roams the Earth on this day and enters the house that is pure, clean, and bright. Diwali celebrations may vary in different communities but its significance and spiritual meaning is generally “the awareness of the inner light.”

 

Sri Ganesh, dressed up for Diwali, at Vishnu Mandir, Richmond Hill.

 

CBC news reported on October 2020 that in Vancouver Diwali Festival Board Director Kriti Dewan said after months of weighing options, organizers decided pandemic safety was best achieved by moving festivities online. "It makes more sense," Dewan said. "We have a lot of grandparents coming to our events and these are the people we really need to protect. We're happy to switch to a digital form."

 

Dewan said normally about 500 to 700 people would attend celebrations in Surrey and another 3,500 to 7,000 would attend the main event in Vancouver. Attendees enjoy food, music and dance performances, art workshops and sometimes fireworks.

 

Now, festivities are moving online with offerings like music and dance videos, children's stories and virtual painting workshops. "I'm so pleased our artists and partners have really stepped up," Dewan said. "It's been a very interesting and challenging year."

 

The Canadian Press reported on November 14, 2020 that celebrants of Diwali were forced to find new ways to mark the holiday this weekend as the heeded warnings from politicians and community leaders to keep gatherings to a minimum.

 

The typical festivals and gatherings were replaced by virtual options for those celebrating the five-day holiday, which marks the victory of light over darkness.

 

“With COVID, we are definitely being careful and we have been taking precautions. We are urging everyone in the community to maintain social distancing,” said Ajay Modi, the founder and director of the Indo-Canada Arts Council and Canada-Diwali. Modi said the virtual aspect of the celebrations has enabled his organization to extend its reach this year.

 

He said he expects Diwali events, such as the fireworks over Niagara Falls, to reach up to two million people - far more than if the events were only held in-person. “It’s been a blessing in disguise,” he said in an interview. “We’re celebrating Diwali without any boundaries across the globe.”

 

To see video of Fireworks on Diwali at Niagara Falls, 2018 was a first or another video shot by a couple ie a bit more fun but longer.

 

Festival organizers in B.C. have staged virtual events ranging from online storytime and prayers to dance performances.

 

Politicians and health officials have spent the past few days urging Canadians to celebrate holidays, like Diwali, virtually this year in a bid to curb the rise in COVID-19 cases.

 

To read all articles by author

 

Author lives in Canada.

 

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