The Hindu religious holiday of Diwali, also called Deepavali or the “Festival of Lights”, is not an official public holiday in Canada. But it is nonetheless celebrated by large numbers of people. Many of South Asian descent carry on the traditions of their ancestral homeland in their new Canadian home.
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Diwali is always celebrated between mid-October and mid-November in the western calendar, depending upon the lunar cycle each year. During the Festival of Lights, many in Canada light traditional lanterns at night and attend special Hindu services.
The Festival of Lights is a colourful and happy celebration. Families prepare their homes and themselves for the special festivities that symbolise the victory of spiritual goodness and the lifting of spiritual darkness. Fireworks displays are set off to drive away evil, oil lamps are lit, flower garlands are made, candles float in bowls of water outside homes and sweets are shared as part of the festivities.
The media puts a lot of attention on the holiday these days, and many businesses hold special dinners. Some local communities put on carnivals, dances, and dramas and light up the streets for the season.
Hindu women in Canada may don fancy silk dresses and attractive jewellery for Diwali. They also may decorate their palms with “henna” designs. At home, many indulge in sweets and other delicacies.