How Diwali will be celebrated in Edmonton during a pandemic

Click to play video: 'Diwali Celebrations in Edmonton'
Diwali Celebrations in Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: Diwali takes place on Nov. 14, and it would usually mean families and friends coming together to celebrate and pray. This year it’s different because of COVID-19 restrictions. As Sarah Komadina explains many people are finding ways to celebrate safely – Nov 8, 2020

This year Diwali falls on Nov. 14. It marks the start of the Hindu New Year. Houses are already lighting up throughout the city of Edmonton.

“The message of Diwali is, there is a lamp, there is a light, there is a destination, you have to move,” Bhartiya Cultural Society of Alberta High Priest Pankaj Dixit said.

The Bhartiya Cultural Society of Alberta is open, and prayers will be available online, and people inside of the building will be limited.

The Sikh celebration of Bandi Chhor Divas also falls of the 14th, and people will decorate their homes with lights too.

“Bandi Chhor Divas actually means ‘day of liberation,’ or ‘day of freedom’,” Jasfinder Chana said.

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Both events usually mean large social gatherings, something not advised or possible during a pandemic.

“Many families get together at times like this, and we celebrate. We will turn on all the lights in the house and come together, eat, socialize with each other. This year will definitely be different, and that is a bit sad,” Chana said.

Chana prays at Gurdwara Millwoods.  She said in previous years the temple has had tents set up outside for people to light candles, there have been fireworks, and thousands of people will come to the building.

“In previous years, we had over 25 thousand people show up here in the evening hours,” Chana said.

“This year we are asking that people don’t congregate at the same time, for people to still come pay their respects, maybe sit for ten minutes and then leave.”

Although gatherings are restricted, people are still encouraged to find some way to celebrate, and also to help support those who have been struggling during the pandemic.

Click to play video: 'What is Diwali?'
What is Diwali?

“Diwali (has) the biggest festivals around the world, millions of people celebrate Diwali and Bandi Chhor Divas festivals at this time,” chief editor of Times of Asia Punjabi Newspaper Deepak Sondhi said.

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“I would like to request you support your local businesses, because I know we will not be having a party at this time, but you can celebrate your Diwali, and Bandi Chhor Divas by buying sweets, gifts and spending time with your loved ones.”

Even though there is a sense of sadness celebrations are minimal this year, Diwali is about light over darkness, and many are finding a way to be positive.

“Hopefully the good times will come back and we can be able to celebrate Diwali next year, two times more,” Dixit said.

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