Calgary’s Indian community celebrates Diwali without COVID restrictions

Thousands of people in Calgary are celebrating Diwali without COVID restrictions for the first time in two years.

Diwali, the biggest and most important holiday of the year in India, symbolizes a new beginning and the spiritual victory of good over evil and light over darkness.

“We are very happy to have him. We would love to have the whole community here,” said Sailesh Bhagawatula, co-director of the Sri Anagha Datta Society of Calgary.

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated by several major religions around the world. For each faith, it marks different stories and histories.

For Hindus, it is to celebrate the return of the deity Rama after years of exile.

“Upon his return to his kingdom, everyone celebrates his return, lighting lamps everywhere, fireworks and general cheerful nature,” Bhagawatula said.

Hindus also honor the goddess of wealth.

Meanwhile, for Sikhs, it marks Guru Hargobind’s release from prison.

“The message is that we should give love and respect and strengthen our relationships with family, with friends, with colleagues and colleagues,” said Gurmit Kaur Sarpal, Founder and CEO of the Royal Women Cultural Association .

Diwali is celebrated with prayers, dancing, a variety of sweets, the lighting of candles, and often fireworks.

SAIT, which has a large South Asian community, hosted an in-person Diwali celebration for students and other members of the school community, for the first time since the pandemic.

Basanta Dahal, student interfaith leader at SAIT, helped organize the event and said the aim was to make Indian students feel more at home.

“At home, we celebrated with our family and friends. Moving to another country, we don’t have our family here, but SAIT provides an opportunity to come together and we have our friends here,” he said.

Dahal led a prayer to kick things off, followed by several dance performances.

The Royal Women Cultural Association was one such group.

“It means a lot, seeing so many people in person, meeting them, handing out sweets and tonight we’re going to have the fireworks so it means a lot. It’s nice to see so many people dancing together,” said Manu Bhagat Angral, President of the Royal Women Cultural Association.

Many came dressed in traditional Indian clothing such as saris.

Calgary’s Sri Anagha Datta Society, a Hindu temple, also held various events throughout the day and expects a strong turnout.

“Before COVID on a Diwali day, we usually had around 300 or 350 people coming through the doors. Today we expect something like this to happen tonight,” Bhagawatula said.

Diwali usually takes place between October and November, with the date changing every year.

This year, the main celebration day is October 24, also the day of the new moon.

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