Diwali celebrated across B.C. with message of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance

The biggest holiday of the year for many South Asian communities in British Columbia hits its peak on Monday.

Diwali is celebrated by several major religions around the world and, for each faith, it marks different stories and histories.

For Hindus, it’s to celebrate the return of the deity Rama after years of exile, or to honor the goddess of wealth. For the Jains, it marks the passing of the spiritual leader Mahavira, while for the Sikhs it marks the liberation of Guru Hargobind from prison.

But a common theme of light overcoming darkness runs through all the celebrations.

“For me it is a sign of goodness every time winning over evil. It’s to spread happiness in the public and that’s it,” said Jasvir Singh, a representative of the student union at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George, BC

The union on Friday held a Diwali celebration that included performances by students, a DJ, dancing and food — one of many events planned across the province, with the holiday usually lasting for several days.

On Sunday in Metro Vancouver people gathered in temples and gurdwaras, watched dance and music performances and savored traditional food, including the sweets associated with Diwali.

South Asians are celebrating Diwali in a variety of ways this year from intimate family gatherings at home to larger celebrations with community at temples. (Gabriel Osorio/CBC)

Pratap Sandhu, director of Prabu Sweets in Surrey, BC, said Diwali is the busiest time of year for the store, as people queued outside the shop on Sunday.

The shop prepares 1,000 boxes of treats a day for the festival.

“We are obviously very excited and very passionate about what we do,” he said.

WATCH | Workers at Prabu Sweets prepare treats for Diwali:

People line up out the door of Surrey BC’s Prabu Sweets for Diwali treats

The South Asian sweet shop says it makes 1000 boxes of treats a day to meet demand during the festival of light

During Diwali, clay lamps called diyas or divas are lit during prayers and ceremonies in homes and temples, their warm glow symbolizing enlightenment.

Satish Kumar, president of the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, said up to 15,000 people are expected to come to the Hindu temple in Surrey to worship over the course of Diwali.

“Joy, good against evil, [the] feeling of [the] public is really good on Diwali day, so it’s a celebration,” he said.

Worshipers at the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir Hindu temple in Surrey on Sunday. (Joel Law/CBC News)

Dharm Singh Panesar, president of the Canadian Ramgarhia Society, which manages the Gurdwara Sahib Brookside in Surrey, said after the past two years of more private and conservative celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are more outgoing this year.

“People were holding back the last two years, now everybody is showing lots more enthusiasm, so we will have a lot more people [Monday],” he said.

Volunteers at the gurdwara on Sunday were busy making rotis and other food in preparation for the thousands of worshipers expected on Monday.

A performer at Vancouver’s Yaletown Roundhouse Community Center applies makeup as she prepares to participate in Diwali celebrations on Sunday. (Joel Law/CBC News)

Kriti Dewan, creative director for the Diwali Celebration Society, was also pleased that celebrations this year seemed to be returning to their pre-pandemic level.

Dewan helped co-ordinate a Diwali celebration at the Yaletown Roundhouse Community Center in Vancouver on Sunday, which featured music, dance and the creation of huge rangolis, patterns created on floors or tabletops using vibrant colors.

“Being able to actually interact with our art zones, being able to see performances live and then also grab a cup of masala chai, it’s just a different feeling,” said Dewan about this year’s celebrations.

Festivities are expected to continue through the week across the province.

People at Vancouver’s Yaletown Roundhouse Community Center paint clay lamps as part of Diwali celebrations on Sunday. (Joel Law/CBC News)

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