Parc-Extension celebrates Diwali on a hopeful note
It was fanfare and fireworks across Parc-Extension last Thursday, as the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities of Parc-Extension celebrated Diwali, the festival of light and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
Diwali marks the start of a new year as families and friends come together to celebrate a fresh start. Festivities include the lighting of fireworks and family feasts, where mithai, a type of Indian sweets, are served and gifts are shared.
People highlight the occasion by lighting diyas, small oil lamps, and by making intricate mandala-like rangolis, colourful circle patterns created using coloured fine powder and sand. Worship ceremonies are held in temples to celebrate the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, who symbolizes the three virtues of wealth and prosperity, fertility and abundant crops, as well as good fortune.
Usually celebrated between mid-October and mid-November, the festival generally lasts five days during the Hindu lunisolar month of Kartika. The date marks the end of the monsoon season in the Indian subcontinent and the start of more calm and pleasant weather.
Shree Ramji Temple
People of all ages, from young children to elders, gathered on Thursday night at the Shree Ramji Hindu Temple on Durocher Ave. to partake in a religious ceremony known as a Puja.
Festival-goers gathered in the large ceremony hall to pray and sing songs in front of the alters, as the sound of the bell installed at the back of the room rang out. People sang and clapped along as they offered prayers before the deities.
Once the ceremony concluded, people picked up sweets and desserts being offered in the front hall before exiting to the front where fireworks were set off and diyas, small oil lamps, were lit to symbolize goodness and purity, the dispelling of darkness and the victory of light.
Fireworks and music resounded across Parc-Extension as people celebrated the start of a new year and the hopes of a brighter future. Many were happy to be able to finally celebrate with their friends and family once again, seeing as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had restricted celebrations last year.
5 days of celebration
This special day is celebrated every year by millions of people around the world at the end of the harvest. “Diwali is a big festival for Indians,” said CB Singh, president of the India Canada Association Of Montreal.
“They call it the victory of the devil to goodwill,” said Singh, adding that “god sends us from dark to light.” The celebration lasts five days, with many different ceremonies and cultural events taking place.
Singh explained that families gathered at home to worship both the gods Ganesha and Lakshmi, hoping for prosperity in the new year. “Most of the time they do it at their home and after that, they go to the temple,” said Singh, explaining that it is an opportunity to meet, socialize and celebrate with relatives and friends.
“Most of the time, they have a big feast and all the different cultural programs,” added Singh, comparing it to being “just like Christmas.”