Dancers celebrate Diwali at the B.C. Legislature Wednesday. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Diwali Festival celebrated in B.C. Legislature for 1st time

‘Festival of lights’ celebrates triumph of light over dark, good over evil

Diwali – the multi-faith “festival of lights” – was honoured at the B.C. Legislature for the first time ever Wednesday with community leaders, dancers and the lighting of a ceremonial candle by Premier John Horgan.

“What better time to celebrate hope over sadness, love and acceptance over fear and intolerance,” said Horgan. “Whether you are Sikh, Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, we are with you today celebrating Diwali. Celebrating hope, joining with family, joining with friends and looking at all that we can do when we come together as a community.”

The festival, that originated in India and celebrates the triumph of light over dark and good over evil, is a period where families light traditional earthen candles called diyas and decorate their houses with colourful rangoli – artworks made by creating patterns on the floor using coloured rice or powder.

“It is one of the biggest festivals in India, similar to how Christmas is such a big celebration in Canada,” said Dez Daljit Mahal, vice-president of India Canada Cultural Association of Victoria.

Families share Indian sweets and gifts, and give food, money and goods to those in need during the five-day celebration. Candles and fireworks are a significant part of the festival throughout. It is also traditional for people to clean their homes in honour of the new season.

Diwali is celebrated around the world by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, making it an important date in multiple religious calendars but for different reasons.

The Hindu festival of Diwali is based on the texts and scriptures of Hinduism, marking a great battle in which Ram killed the demon king Ravan and recovered his wife. Ram’s return with his wife Sita to Ayodhya and his subsequent coronation as king is celebrated as Diwali.

Sikh holiday, Bandi Chhorh Divas, coincides with the day of Diwali, and marks the day that Guru Hargobind Ji, the Sixth Sikh Guru, was freed from imprisonment. He arrived at Amritsar on Diwali day and the Golden Temple was lit with hundreds of lamps to celebrate his return.

For Jainism, it marks the spiritual awakening of Lord Mahavira.

All celebrate with light, family, food, and gifts.

“Here in B.C., friends and families are coming together to celebrate in an exchange of love and happiness. Although this holiday is celebrated by many different people in many different ways, the universal theme always prevails: that light will triumph over darkness,” said B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver.

The public is invited to celebrate Diwali at an inclusive Diwali Dinner and Dance, hosted by the India Canada Cultural Association of Victoria, at the Saanich Fairgrounds on Nov. 17.

“Our vision is to connect and welcome everyone,” said organizer Dez Daljit Mahal. “We welcome all cultures to come out and celebrate with us.”

The event will be catered by Royal Spice and will include dance performances. Tickets are $30 each or $200 for a table of 8. For more information contact Mahal at 250-858-5331.


 

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Premier John Horgan lights a ceremonial diya at the B.C. Legislature Wednesday. (Keri Coles/News staff)

The lighting of a ceremonial diya at the B.C. Legislature Wednesday. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Dez Daljit Mahal, vice-president of India Canada Cultural Association of Victoria, lights a ceremonial diya at the B.C. Legislature Wednesday. (Keri Coles/News staff)

11-year-old Haimavathy Saibish dances at the Diwali festival at B.C. Legislature Wednesday. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Gordy Dodd and Premier John Horgan shake hands at the Diwali ceremony at the B.C. Legislature Wednesday. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Chief Constable Del Manak (left), Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham, Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims, Minister of Education Rob Fleming celebrate Diwali at the B.C. Legislature Wednesday. (Keri Coles/News staff)

Lighting the ceremonial diya at the Diwali ceremony at B.C. Legislature Wednesday. (Keri Coles/News staff)

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