South Asian festival welcomes new, prosperous year

Diwali sweets. (Photo by)

Diwali sweets. (Photo by Chandni Singh)

Millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains all over the world gathered Nov. 11 to celebrate a festival of food, family and culture.

Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is one of the largest and most colourful Indian holidays. Falling between the end of October and mid-November each year, it signifies a victory of light over darkness and good over evil. It also marks the end of the year for the Hindu calendar, which is equivalent to Western celebrations that occur on New Year’s Eve.

Diwali sweets. (Photo by Chandni Singh)

Diwali sweets. (Photo by Chandni Singh)

Weeks before Diwali, Chandni Singh, 23, and her family thoroughly cleaned and decorated their home. They celebrated the coming of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, by lighting candles around the house to welcome her. The flame glowed continuously for three days before the Diwali festival. On the morning of Diwali, Singh’s mother, Madhu Singh, 58, stayed home from work in order to allow the goddess to enter their home. If the woman of the house is not present, Lakshmi cannot promise them a prosperous and healthy year.

During Diwali, families and friends share sweets and gifts. It is also traditional to buy news clothes to wear throughout the festivities.

“Diwali is the biggest cultural and religious holiday for us. We want to pray for a healthy and prosperous year as a family,” said Singh. “It really is an important day.”

For Singh’s family, Diwali is all about fireworks, prayers and sweets. When the clock strikes midnight, she and her family begin a 30-minute prayer to the Hindu gods — Lakshmi, Ganesh and Hanuman to name a few. They light up the night sky with colourful fireworks and eat Indian sweets made specially for the occasion

Gulab jamun (a long, skinny, deep-fried donut), barfi (a sweet milk pastry), and peda (a milky sugar candy) are a few of Singh’s favorite Diwali sweets.

The festival of spirituality and enlightenment, originating in India and continues to be celebrated among Canadians that have not lost their native roots.

“We celebrate new beginnings,” said Singh. “The festival of lights allows us to come together as a family and keeps us in touch with our religious roots.”


Alex Wilks is a fourth year journalism student attending Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She is an avid traveler and world explorer and focuses her writing on human interest pieces. She is currently working as a contributor to Peace Arch News, a community paper residing in South-Surrey, White Rock.

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