West Islanders revving up to celebrate Diwali

By Robert Frank

The West Island will see in 2013 more celebration than it ever has before for Diwali—one of the most important and colourful celebrations for the region’s South Asian community.

The newly revitalized India Canada Organization (ICO) has decided to hold its first formal $75-a-plate Diwali Dinner & Dance at the Pointe Claire Holiday Inn, Nov. 1.

The feast is in addition to the annual firework display, slated to start at 9:30 p.m., Nov. 3, at the Hindu Mandir at 50 Kesmark, Dollard des Ormeaux. Sikhs will also mark Diwali at Gurdwara Sahib of Greater Montreal, 1155 Hyman.

For most Indians, Diwali marks the start of their new year.

“It’s a celebration of hope for the future,” explained Shama Chopra, a founder of the Dollard Hindu temple, “so we celebrate with candles and traditional sweets.”

“Every year the date changes,” she told The Suburban. The festival of lights is held during the new moon, on the 14th day of the Hindu month of Amavas. “It is the happiest day of the year.”

The commemoration is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists in India as well as some Indian Roman Catholics.

“Hindu households are decorated with lights and candles,” Chopra said. In the Hindu faith, Diwali marks the occasion when Lakshmi— the goddess of money—returned from 14 years of exile. “People await Lakshmi entering their houses.”

A fresh start, Diwali is a time for reconciliation and hope for the future, when people put past differences behind them and give symbolic gifts as a sign of renewal. Indian businesses traditionally start their financial year on Diwali.

According to Chopra, as many as 2,000 people are expected to visit the Dollard des Ormeaux Hindu Mandir, Sunday evening.

Friday night’s ICO festivities, in contrast, have a capacity of about 250 participants, Chopra said.

More information about theDiwali Dinner & Dance is available from Naseer Mehdi Khan [514] 999-8595 and Rajesh Kapoor [514] 233-1715.

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