Michele Newton stands in a hallway with two brick walls on either side

Diwali celebration unites religions and cultures

Diwali (pronounced “de-VAH-lee”) is one of the most exciting and important annual events for Hindus, Jains and Sikhs around the world.

Held Nov. 14, Diwali is known as the festival of lights. It celebrates the victory of light over dark and of good over evil.

My Hindu friend, Tia Harish, explained: “Diwali is a religious celebration that involves fireworks, good food, and pooja (prayer). Diwali is celebrated for many different reasons in India; North Indians celebrate the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and brother Lakshmana to their kingdom of Ayodya after 14 years of exile. South India celebrates the killing of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. Reasons vary by region and religion, but the celebration styles are mostly similar.”

In Canada’s urban centres and cities, Diwali celebrations are big and festive. “Diwali has always been very important to me. We have family traditions of buying new clothes, lighting fireworks with our neighbours, and cooking a large afternoon meal,” added Harish. “Diwali brings the community together.”

In Simcoe County, with a relatively small Hindu community and no Hindu temples, Diwali may be a quiet celebration on Nov. 14.

“I do celebrate Diwali, but in a very personal way as opposed to the community, national holiday I was used to in Trinidad.”

Like many of us from different cultures, during this pandemic, how we celebrate has had to change.

“This year, Diwali celebrations are going to look very different. It will be mostly a virtual celebration,” says Shelley Sarin, chair of the Ethnic Mosaic Alliance in Barrie. “We will be dressing up, cooking delicious food, decorating our homes, but staying within our small ‘bubble’ for celebrations.”

Michèle Newton
Opinion for Barrie Advance (Torstar)
Wednesday, October 28, 2020