The Hindu/Indian traditional diya candle is lit for Diwali. It represents the removal of bad energy and bringing good energy. When the diya is lit for worship purposes in temples it is called an Aarti. Diwali is also known as Deepavalli and means “row of lights” in English.

Diwali holiday season has kicked off

The large South Asian community in Scarborough started blessing their homes with light in celebration of the festival of lights called Diwali marking the Hindu New Year.

Swar Sadhana School of Indian Music and Dance in Scarborough is set to host its Diwali Celebration dinner and fireworks on Nov. 14.

The five-day Hindu holiday is also celebrated by Buddhists and other religions and officially began on Nov. 13.

“It’s the biggest festival in India. Children look forward to it, they get a holiday and it’s really fun. It also has a religious as well as cultural background,” said Loveen Gill. “We light candles in a lot of clay pots with oil and wicks. We also distribute sweets and exchange gifts.”

Gill says celebrators consider the festival of lights to be holy since it represents a lord called Rama sent into exile and returning home after 14 years. According to Hafsite.org, a Hindu-American website, this is only one tale of how Diwali began.

“They [the celebrators] feel that a lot of prosperity is coming their way on that day so it’s just like Christmas here, Diwali back home in India as well as here,” Gill said.

Scarborough resident Shaheena Reza says she is also excited for Diwali. Reza says she is shopping at the India Bazaar for goods and preparing for guests coming to her home for Diwali.

“You go visit your family and friends, you give sweets and cook nice dishes, and you invite people into your home,” Reza said. “It’s very good for my country India and very popular there.”

On Nov. 10 a two-day festival called Diwali-Mela happened at the India Bazaar located between Coxwell Avenue and Greenwood Avenue. Participants were given the chance to learn Bollywood dances.

Apart from live music and dancing, a large sidewalk sale was set up and the sale will continue for the entire week of Diwali.