The Green Party of Canada wishes to recognize the Hindu festival of Diwali which starts today and continues for five days until Saturday. This “festival of lights,” as it is popularly referred to, is celebrated every year between mid-October and mid-November. It commemorates the return of Lord Rama from his 14-year-long exile. At the same time, Jains observe Diwali to mark the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BCE.
The word “Diwali” or “Divali” is a contraction of “Deepavali,” which translates into “row of lamps.” During the festival, Hindus light small, clay lamps filled with oil to symbolize the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are then kept burning through the night in homes that have been specially cleaned. At the same time, firecrackers are set off to drive away evil spirits.
Hindus first came to Canada more than 100 years ago and continue to emigrate to this country, especially from India and Sri Lanka. According to the 2006 census, there were about 372,000 Hindus living here, mainly in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. Those following Jainism have also been in Canada since the late 19th century and, although fewer in number, have established vibrant communities, mainly in Ontario.
Many non-Hindus relate to Hinduism through the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. His observation: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world” has inspired activists around the world for decades. With Gandhi’s words in mind, the Green Party of Canada wishes both Hindus and Jains a wonderful “festival of light.”
Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak to all those celebrating.