For Akshay Rajgor, a first-year photography student at Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre, Diwali is a day of joy, gratitude and reflection.
“The day is celebrated by burning firecrackers and putting Rangolis outside of our houses,” Rajgor said. “We say thank you to God for having us and putting us on earth.”
Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, took place Nov. 7, the day before the new year for people of the Hindu faith. Centennial College’s student association held a celebration at the East York campus, where students enjoyed traditional sweets and samosas.
“It’s my first-time celebrating Diwali here and I’ve been very happy,” Rajgor said.
This was the first time that Rajgor, who is originally from Bombay, India, experienced Diwali in Canada. He wanted to celebrate the day in the most authentic way possible with his friends and family here.
And he did just that.
“It’s my first-time celebrating Diwali here and I’ve been very happy,” he said, grinning across the room at his friends in cultural attire. For Rajgor, it was everything he would have done if he were back home in India with his family.
His only concern was being able to use firecrackers, a major part of Diwali intended to bring light to darkness. They usually light up the sky in India between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
“Back home it is very festive — every second someone is enjoying the firecrackers, but over here is a bit of a concern because of the rules and regulations,” Rajgor said. “It’s the same in India but we do it anyways.”
Another necessary element of Diwali, he says, are Rangolis.
“Rangolis are drawn outside every house to welcome the guest,” Rajgor said. “They come in different colours and different designs, usually done by hand.”
At the door of the student centre, multiple Rangolis of different designs filled the floor, helping to welcome people celebrating and those who were curious about what was going on.
Ivan Sharma, student association director at Centennial College, says the turnout was strong this year, with 20-plus students and some staff in attendance.
Sharma, who was born in Nepal in South Asia, has celebrated Diwali in Canada for many years now and says it’s a good way to come together as a school and community, as well as paying respect to his people.
“It’s about ringing in the Goddess in your home, bringing good luck to the new year, celebrating family and being festive,” he said.