On November 18th 2018, Diwali was celebrated at Milton Lions Club Hall on Thompson Rd. The event was organised by the Committee of Halton Gujarati Seniors Samaj which is a forum for social interaction, entertainment and community support.

Diwali which is also known Deepawali, is a five days’ period of festivity welcoming Lakshmi the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity whose meaning and significance evolved in ancient Sanskrit texts. She is the wife and shakti (energy) of Vishnu, one of the principal deities of Hinduism. The image, icons and sculptures of Lakshmi are represented with symbolism. Her four arms are symbolic of the four goals of humanity that are considered good in Hinduism – dharma (pursuit of ethical, moral life), artha (pursuit of wealth, means of life), kama (pursuit of love, emotional fulfillment) and moksha (pursuit of self-knowledge, liberation).

At the entrance to the event on November 18th was a table on which a lady created an intricately colourful and beautiful pattern. With 3 fingers she crafted the delicate design using coloured powders. Often these traditional decorations are carefully displayed on the threshold of each house during Diwali. These are to welcome the goddess Lakshmi as she enters and blesses each home.

An attendee at the event was Shikha who loves Milton. She has lived here for 2 years: “It’s a great place to live and such a friendly neighbourhood!”  She described how Diwali began on the 5th November 2018 for 3 main days and continuing on for a week.  Shikha told how “Friends and community are involved in celebrating and praying for all- it’s about spreading happiness around and it’s about peace and prosperity.

“At the onset this year on 5th we invoked the goddess Lakshmi, decorated our houses and gave gifts.

“On the 6th we celebrated!

“On the 7th this was the grand affair! We prayed to Lakshmi; lit up the whole house; prepared delicacies; lit fireworks. Area temples have fireworks for those who gather there. This took place for us at the temple on Highway 25.”

At 2:00pm on November 18th, the hall gradually filled with lovely ladies in exquisite silk saris along with their husbands and many others.

During the ceremony, singer Lalit Soni entertained everyone with his melodious voice, adding to the   vibrancy of the occasion.

The capable Hostess and Producer of the whole event was the elegant Hassu Bihari who introduced Meena Bhatt, the President of the Halton Gujarati Senior Samaj which is ‘a forum for social interaction, entertainment and community support’.

Meena described how “Diwali is the Festival of Lights – from darkness we move into light…. We should be ready for anything and make sure we lead a stable life.”

The programme proceeded with Aarti- a ceremony of worship: welcoming the god and raising up lit candles in tiny earthenware pots. Most of those present removed their shoes and reverently approached the altar around which ladies sang beautifully. Indira Naidoo Harris helped to light candles which were carried about for the people present to share the light.

Three brilliant young performers: Disha Shah, Diya Shah and Anya Gosrani entertained the audience with their wonderful Bollywood Fusion dancing to melodic Indian music. Their teacher is Daksha Patel who has studied dance in Africa and the UK. (todaysdance@gmail.com). She teaches dance and ‘Bollywood Fitness’ to all ages.

Later, a member of a musical family, Rekha Uppal, also danced beautifully.

The ever popular Indira Naidoo Harris and her son Galen Naidoo Harris were warmly welcomed to the event. Indira reminisced about her memories of celebrating Diwali in her childhood. She emphasised the need to pass along our memories and traditions to our children. She was presented with a certificate of appreciation after which she thanked everyone for being there.

“We are celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil.” Indira said. “Our elders have taught us well.”

After other business was discussed, a delicious Diwali Dinner was shared by all.

As the dark days of winter are taking over, bright celebrations, sharing and giving thanks are something we all can enjoy anytime.

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