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Canada welcomes more than 300,000 immigrants from around the world every year who bring their traditions and cultures along with them. This contributes to making Canada one of the most diverse countries in the world! Many of Canada’s immigrants come from South Asia. And an exciting part of South Asian culture is Diwali. In 2021, Diwali celebrations begin on November 2 – 6th. November 4, or the third day of Diwali is called Lakshmi Puja. This is the most important of the five days, and also when the biggest Diwali celebrations occur.

What is Diwali?

Diwali is a 5-day festival that more than a billion people from around the world celebrate. Many ethnic groups celebrate the festival, but mainly people in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. As Canada accepts many immigrants from this part of the world, Diwali is one of the biggest religious holidays in Canada. 

Even though other religions have different ideas of Diwali, the main idea is the same. Diwali celebrates the:

  • victory of light over darkness
  • good over evil, and
  • knowledge over ignorance.

Diwali celebrates the homecoming of Lord Rama after his victory over demons. 

When Does Diwali Take Place?

Diwali is a yearly celebration and usually falls between October and November. This Hindu lunisolar calendar looks at the movement of both the moon and the sun from the earth, and this determines the exact date for Diwali. This 5-day festival takes place in the middle of Karkita, which is the 8th month in the Hindu calendar. Some versions of the calendar also put Karkita as the 7th month.

The Festival of Lights

Diwali is known as the Festival of Lights, and for good reason. On Diwali, people like to light the inside and outside of homes with rows of lamps. The word Diwali itself derives from the Sanskrit word, Deepawali, which means, rows of lighted lamps.

Celebrating Diwali in 2021

Even though Diwali celebrations are different in Canada compared to South Asia, the holiday spirit is the same. The first thing you will notice on Diwali is the lights. Many families that celebrate Diwali love to decorate the outside of their homes with Diyas, which are oil lamps made of baked clay. Diyas are a common sight on Diwali if you live in an area with a big South Asian population.

Fireworks are also common, especially in cities like Mississauga, Brampton, and Vancouver, which have a large South Asian population. You’ll be able to sight firework displays in almost every neighbourhood. Until recently, fireworks were not permitted during Diwali. Now, as time goes on, some cities are more lenient about the use of fireworks on holidays like Victoria Day, Canada Day, and Diwali. Because of this, fireworks are more common in cities and towns in Canada during Diwali.

Because of Canada’s multicultural nature, Diwali has not only become a festival that South Asians celebrate. but a Canadian one too. Even though it is not a statutory holiday, Canadians from many backgrounds celebrate Diwali. It’s an important festival for Canada. In a sense, it is just as important to the Canadian identity as Canada day. This is because Diwali shows us that many Canadians are willing to break barriers and embrace other cultural traditions. This is an amazing achievement, given the fact that only 5.6% of Canada’s population is of South Asian descent (2016 Census data).

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How Will Diwali Look in 2021?

With vaccine rates rising all across Canada, we can expect to celebrate Diwali 2021 as we did before the pandemic. However, some events may still be online. Check out these Diwali 2021 events:

2021 Diwali Puja Calendar for Toronto

Diwali Events in Canada in 2021

Diwali Events in Ottawa

Vancouver Diwali Events

Diwali Traditions

During Diwali, some common traditions include:

  • Preparing traditional homemade sweets
  • Giving sweets, dried fruits, and gifts
  • Lighting Diyas and decorating homes with lights and lamps
  • Visiting relatives and friends, and
  • Calling distant family member and friends to extend Diwali wishes.

Celebrating Diwali is an exciting time bringing light and joy to Canada’s multicultural fabric.