Diwali is a five-day Hindu festival of lights symbolizing the triumph of good over evil, and marking good beginnings. On October 8, Milton’s Hindu community gathered at the Milton Sports Centre for a cultural program.

The event was organized by Halton Gujarati Seniors Samaj (HGSS). The group started meeting the in their children’s basements to discuss their experiences in the new country. It was founded by Natvarbhai Patel, Bhikhabhai Patel and Jayantibhai Patel in 2014. “By word of mouth in the community many seniors became members, and now we have more than 120 members,” Secretary Hassu Bihari said in an email. They began to rent facilities, and organize meetings, and trips.

Diwali is one of Hindu’s more vibrant holidays. “HGSS seniors look for celebrate being one of the sponsors for the day,” Bihari said. The hall was decorated with colourful garlands, as audience members gathered in traditional dress. It’s a family holiday, where gifts are exchanged. Houses are decorated with strings of lights, and traditional foods are served to immediate family and friends. “Diwali is the time of the year when families and friends get together and are thankful for all the relationships in their lives,” Baihari said.

Official ceremonies kicked off with speeches from dignitaries including Mayor Gord Krantz, Halton MPP Indira NaidooHarris and local Milton Councillor Rick Di Lorenzo. Naidoo-Harris recalled celebrating Diwali as child. A lamp-lighting ceremony followed the speeches. The lamps symbolize hope, and optimism for the year to come. Diwali is a holiday that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. It’s believed the sound of firecrackers ward off evil spirits. Fireworks are also often set off.

Speeches were followed by a full cultural program including Bolywood-style dancing. A dinner followed the official program. Diwali is one of the significant holidays on the Hindu calendar. It’s celebrated by Hindu, Sikhs, and Jains worldwide. To learn more about HGSS visit their website: http://haltongujaratiseniorssamaj.ca/

Photos by: Denise Cooperwhite

Laura Steiner
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