What better way to connect with your roots than celebrate your most important festival if you have adopted a new country as your home? Whatever part of the world you may be in, the sweet n’ spicy aromas enveloping Diwali preparations always bring out the brightest side of your identity.
Even as temperatures dip in Canada and night falls in the early hours of the evening, the week leading up to the Diwali extravaganza is the perhaps the most widely anticipated and eagerly awaited time of the year for Hindus across the globe.
Most immigrant kids in Canada don’t get to live their true identities in school as they strive to fit in with the majority. What they do long for, however, is the authentic reality-check at home. Many parents drive their kids over long distances to attend cultural events so that the kids get a true flavor of their roots.
Celebrated annually for the triumph of knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and light over dark, Diwali is an annual tradition held most dear to Hindus everywhere in the world. It is a celebration of strength, replete with goddesses and gods, prayers and offerings, jewels and colors. Most importantly, Diwali is a time when families come together and fill heats with love and light and spend time with the shared goal of forgetting past grudges with the hope of starting afresh on bruised relationships. The unparalleled radiance of mud or clay lamps (diays) filled with ghee (clarified butter) are lit with cotton wicks to illuminate and purify the house.
Most small cities of Canada host prayers at the local temple (s), followed by communal dinner and fireworks to culminate the celebrations. Bigger cities, especially Toronto, hold week-long events; case in point is the iconic Swami Narayan Temple or Akshardham. This emblematic temple hosts children’s programs, Annakut celebrations, traditional Aarti and impressive fireworks.
In essence, a true sense of belonging to a foreign land comes when an individual is able to feel a sense of belonging. This feeling comes with one’s one traditions, festivals and cultural values. The true spirit assimilates all that an adoptive country has to offer, all while holding close the values one grew up. By doing this, you can be at home even while being thousands of miles apart from your motherland.
It is true that nobody ever has enough light or love in their life. There’s always room for more. May this symbolic festival of light herald the beginning of purity of soul that is enlightened and free of prejudices and malice.