November marked Hindu Heritage Month in the province of Ontario. On November 11, Hindus from the Milton area gathered at Lions’ Club Hall to celebrate their heritage, and mark an end to Diwali; the Hindu festival of lights.

Dignitaries attending included Milton MP Lisa Raitt, Halton MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris, and Mayor Gord Krantz. They opened the ceremonies by lighting a lamp. Each were invited to the stage to make a brief statement. “Thank you very much for inviting me, so that I can understand the culture a little bit more,” Milton MP Lisa Raitt told the crowd. The celebration of culture, and religion was important to Naidoo-Harris. “Being able to take some time away from our lives and think about our culture, tradition, and heritage is so important,” she said. Naidoo-Harris is Hindu.

Other featured activities included a yoga demonstration, Jeopardy, a craft, and the presentation of certificates to children. It also served as the Diwali Food Drive for Milton’s Salvation Army. It “extends the concept of giving as well as the concept of religion, and culture,” Organizer Darpan Patel said. There were display boards placed around the meeting hall detailing Hinduism’s contributions to world history in areas such as science, medicine, and arts.

Hindus believe Seva or service is a big part of being a good person. “One should be practicing internal pleasing; being a good person, having good morals, and personality. As well as part of giving to the needy, and the poor,” Patel explained. These are values he tries to pass onto his kids. “Our values should state that we should go back to the community where we live, and where we serve. What we do today, is what the society is going to be tomorrow,” he explained.

Passing on the heritage is one of the ideas behind Ved and Friends Celebrate Dusshera and Diwali. The book was written by Diksha Pal Narayan, and goes through the ideas behind Diwali as applied to Hindus, Jains. She was inspired by her own story of immigrating to Canada. “Our history should reflect in our son, but he should be very comfortable with the reality that he lives in,” she said. She wanted his curiosity about his heritage to come naturally. “It shouldn’t be a thing that he has to do. It should be a thing that he loves to do,” she said of Diwali. Some of the children received certificates of achievement for classes, and a copy of the book. For more information on HHS Canada visit their website: www.hsscanada.org
Photos by: Denise Cooperwhite

Laura Steiner
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