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We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Diwali? What’s That?

October 24, 2022

What is Diwali?

Numerous Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains celebrate Diwali, a five-day festival of lights, which symbolizes new beginnings, the victory of light over darkness, and the triumph of good over evil.

The History of Diwali

I hope you learn something new about Diwali because it is something I found fascinating and did not know. Before delving into the history, it should be noted that the name Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali, translated as "rows of lighted lamps."

Diwali is a significant religious celebration that has its roots in India. Although it is a common misconception that only Hindus celebrate Diwali, each religion honours various historical events and legends during this festival. First, Hindus commemorate the gods Rama and Sita's arrival in Ayodhya after a 14-year exile. They also celebrate the day Mother Goddess Durga slew Mahisha the demon.

Furthermore, the sixth guru, Hargobind Singh, was released from jail in 1619, and Sikhs commemorate this event. Finally, the time Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, attained the condition known as Moksha—also known as nirvana, or eternal bliss—is commemorated by Jains during the festival of Diwali. 

When is Diwali Celebrated?

The Diwali celebration lasts for five days each year. Although the Moon's position determines each year's exact dates, it usually occurs between October and November. This year, Diwali falls on Monday, October 24.

Diwali in India

Diwali celebrations last for five days across most of India, here is what you could expect each day to be like.

Day 1: Most people clean their houses and make elaborate rangoli on the first day. A rangoli is a pattern constructed of colourful rice, sand, or flowers on the house floor.

Day 2: On the second day, special food is prepared or purchased, and prayers are said for ancestors who have passed on.

Day 3: The festival's primary day, the third day is when families get together to celebrate by lighting candles and lanterns in their homes and on the streets and by lighting off fireworks.

Day 4: Even though fourth-day traditions vary, they nonetheless centre on the marriage of the husband and wife.

Day 5: The fifth day is devoted to the relationship between siblings.

How is Diwali Celebrated?

There are several ways to celebrate Diwali, and many traditions are upheld. The day of the new Moon is when Diwali is most widely observed. It is well known that the sky is at its darkest on the new moon day, which is essential for the celebration since light plays a significant role. Lit candles, clay lamps, and oil lanterns are scattered throughout the house, on the streets, at places of worship, and even floating along rivers and lakes. Diyas, which are little oil lamps, are used to decorate residences, places of business, and public areas. It is called the festival of lights for a reason; therefore, another tradition would be to set off fireworks which are thought to ward off evil spirits, similar to lighting diyas.

Diwali involves visiting family, eating, and socializing, much like many other holidays and festivals. It is important to socialize with loved ones and friends. People also dress in their most delicate pieces of attire, eat delicious feasts, and exchange gifts and sweets. In addition, many individuals deep clean and decorate their homes at the beginning of the new year.

I don't celebrate Diwali, but I want to be included.

Even if you don't celebrate Diwali, but know someone who does, you can show them how much you care and want to join them in their celebration. There are different approaches, but the first is to educate oneself about the festival, its many traditions, and customs. The next step would be to speak with your friend and tell them that you would love to immerse yourself in their culture, celebrate, and discover more. Following your conversation, you could show someone you care by giving them a small gift, trying a new recipe, lighting diyas or fireworks with them, or even just spending time and eating a meal together. These are just a few examples of simple ways you can celebrate with someone and emphasize cultural appreciation.

I hope you learnt more about the festival from this post overall. I can certainly attest to the fact that it was helpful to me and that I now understand it better. Also, it is recommended to speak with others and conduct research before taking action.