Diverse, colourful, artistic, spiritual, mystic; elements of Indian culture and customs are rife with traditions that reflect the true heritage of India. Deepawali is one such festival which is integral to Hindu celebrations and festivities.
Indians constitute a significant percentage of the Canadian population. In fact, Indo-Canadians are among the largest diaspora in Canada. In such light, it becomes of paramount importance that Indians relate to their cultural identity in this country, which they call a home away from home. With growing diversity and prominence of the Indian community, Canadian society has recognized the necessity of identifying with the culture and traditions of India. Canada has beautifully amalgamated the colourful history and cultural heritage of India into its multicultural domain. Similarly, the Indian diaspora has attempted to blend into Canadian society by modifying and ‘hybridizing’ it’s cultural practices.
Hindus comprise 27% of the Indo-Canadian population. Deepawali (aka Diwali), a name that translates to row of diyas (earthen lamps), is the festival of lights and one of the major festivals of Hindus.
Deepawali celebration in Canada is as iconic as the festival itself. Diwali Razzmatazz, the Canada Diwali festival series, is resplendent with the razzle-dazzle around the jamboree of the glittering festival of lights. The Indo-Canadian Arts Council (ICAC) which has been organizing the celebration for the last many years at the popular Mississauga Celebration Square took the celebration a step further in 2018 by ringing in Diwali with festivities at the historic Niagara Falls. The event which commenced with a cultural program in the afternoon culminated with the shimmering firework display in the evening.
Deepawali holds a special significance in Hindu households all across Canada.
According to mythology, during Deepawali Goddess Lakshmi Diwali steps into your home showering good luck, peace and prosperity. Lakshmi Pujan (worshipping Goddess Lakshmi), is the most important ritual performed on Deepawali day. Beautiful pooja thali adorned with diyas, fresh flowers and incense sticks is used in performing the rituals.
Adorning the entrance with the beautiful patterns (rangoli), wearing new clothes, dishing out the delectable platter and illuminating your home with diyas, candles, tapers and strings of light mark the true essence of this glittering festival.
Indians living in Canada have modified this festival as per the demands of Canadian weather and society. Not able to withstand the damp and windy Canadian weather, diyas and candles just don’t stay alight outdoors. Instead, people have now switched to electric lights and candles.
In Canada, there are strict rules for the display of the firework. The firework exhibit is usually restricted to open grounds or on the premises of Hindu temples. Indians have adapted themselves well to this policy and refrain from any firework exhibit in their neighbourhood.
May the gleam of diyas, an echo of holy prayers and splendour of Deepawali shower good luck on you!
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