DIWALI: Surrey will light up with celebrations featuring dancers, prayers, fireworks and more

Diwali is celebrated by both Hindus and Sikhs. Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

The eclectic nature of Diwali spreads beyond Vancouver, lighting up Surrey as well.

The city kicked off its festival of light Monday, Nov. 5 at City Hall with speakers, dancers, henna artists and food – and the celebrations continue throughout the month at Newton Pool.

“All of the festivals that we have are important,” said Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts. “With Diwali — it’s the celebration of light and it’s celebrated by both Hindu and Sikh and it’s just a time to really reflect and be thankful for the things you have in your life.”

While many South Asian cultures celebrate Diwali, it stems from different traditions and legends.

For Hindus, they commemorate Lord Rama, who was exiled for 14 years and finally returned after defeating the demon King Rawan.

“That’s the most important for Hindus: conquering evil, bad against good — Rama, the god, he conquered the fight against the bad, evil and then he came back home,” said Satish Kumar, council member of Vedic Hindu Culture Society at the Laxmi Narayan Mandir temple in Surrey. “He did a good job for the Hindu community — that’s what we’re celebrating.”

The people were so excited for Rama’s return they came with lights and fireworks to honour him.

So the Laxmi Narayan Mandir temple will celebrate Diwali Nov. 13 with singers, candle lighting and fireworks.

For Sikhs, the legend is different, and while the celebration falls on the same day, it’s called Bandi-chhor Diwas, which celebrates the selfless acts of their sixth guru, Guru Har Govind.

He was imprisoned in India with 52 innocent princes and when his day of release came he refused to leave without them, so Nov. 13 marks a day of release and selflessness.

“Fighting for the good of other people – he took the opportunity to have all of them released with him,” said Drivnaynee Kaur, head teacher at the Khalsa School in Surrey.

The Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey will celebrate with a special prayer, a free kitchen, candle lighting and fireworks.

Simon Fraser University is also hosting their own celebration with a gala at Surrey’s Crown Palace Banquet Hall Thursday night. Funds raised from the event will go towards scholarships in support of students who work, study and volunteer in cities and villages in India through SFU’s mobility initiative.

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