Diwali, the festival of lights, is an important celebration for Indians. It plays a huge role in Indian culture, uniting people to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
With more Indian people immigrating to Canada, the festival has been transported to the West. Huge parties were arranged all over the country by Indo-Canadians to celebrate Diwali on Nov. 12. These celebrations play a role in strengthening the bonds within the local Indian communities.
“Diwali is totally different here as compared to India,” said SAIT student Vinayak Sood. “I miss those days very much when my friends and I used to burn crackers and enjoy almost the whole night without sleeping.
“Relatives visit each other’s house to give gifts and sweets, and to enjoy this festival together.”
People start preparing for Diwali a month before the celebration. Supplies such as fireworks, light strings, sweets and diyas (oil lamps) can be found in stores like Walmart and other superstores, often discounted.
Religious ceremonies and parties are organized all over Canada to celebrate Diwali. Most of these events are supported by educational institutions and community groups. They are usually open to the public.
SAIT organized a Diwali Fest celebration in the Stan Grand Centre on Nov. 10 to promote diversity. There were performances related to the traditional folk dance of India. Afterward, the dance floor was left for open, with Punjabi and Hindi songs playing.
“Dancing together in groups was the best part of the whole event,” said Sood. “Although the dance floor was crowded and there wasn’t proper space for dance, still, nobody was leaving the dance floor.”
Fireworks are an essential part of the festival. However, fireworks can be extremely damaging to the environment. In Ottawa, a bylaw was implemented to stop the use of fireworks in private areas unless permitted by a fire chief. Overall, the use of fireworks has gone down as people are becoming more aware of the damage they cause. The oil lamps have even been replaced with LED lamps in some cases.
Compared to India, Diwali is a different experience in Canada. Despite this, the Canadian government and institutes such as SAIT continue to celebrate foreign festivals to uphold the multicultural atmosphere around the country.