Spirits high as Metro Vancouver residents celebrate second Diwali during pandemic

Click to play video: 'Diwali celebrations shine extra bright this year with less COVID-19 restrictions' Diwali celebrations shine extra bright this year with less COVID-19 restrictions
More in-person Diwali celebrations return to British Columbia after isolated festivities last year due to the pandemic. Kamil Karamali has more on Diwali from Surrey – Nov 4, 2021

Residents of Metro Vancouver are celebrating their second Diwali during a pandemic, but they’re not letting the virus dampen the annual festival of lights.

The five-day celebration — one of the biggest and most important holidays in India — began this week.

At the warehouse in Burnaby, that meant pausing the day’s operations for a lively music performance and treats all around.

Read more: Canucks unveil special warm-up jersey, entertainment ahead of 5th Diwali Night

“Being a South Asian myself, I do realize the importance and significance of this festival, so we decided to celebrate with our team members,” said Garry Pahwa, human resources supervisor at Fresh Local Solutions Inc.

“This is our second home, we’re away from our families.”

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Fresh Local Solutions, which owns the online grocery service, also asked its customers to extend their delivery deadlines to respect its Diwali observance.

More than 330 patrons agreed, and the company has been able to decorate its facility, hand out colourful rangoli artwork and other gifts to team members, feed everyone, and offer some time off.

“We’re extremely grateful for them accommodating us,” said Pahwa.

Click to play video: 'Urgent calls to hold safe Diwali celebrations during COVID-19' Urgent calls to hold safe Diwali celebrations during COVID-19
Urgent calls to hold safe Diwali celebrations during COVID-19 – Nov 14, 2020

Last year, in-person Diwali celebrations were cancelled across the city, including at the Gurdwara Dukh Sahib Sikh temple in Surrey.

This year, however, president Narinder Singh said the temple will hold its usual feast, but it will be enforcing masking rules, and checking for double-vaccination.

“People were stuck in their homes, with so many problems — mental health and other things — so this year, people are excited and we are actually celebrating Diwali like regular.”

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Read more: Diwali recipes: Chef uses this easy hack to make samosas at home

At the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir Hindu temple in Surrey, a large observance was held Wednesday night to kick-start the festival.

People also trickled in throughout the day Thursday to light candles and participate in ceremonies of worship.

“The people are very happy,” said President Satish Goyal. “The temple is a place where people meet each other.”

There are still two more days of Diwali left and more celebrations, including fireworks, are expected.

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