Laval residents revving up to celebrate Diwali

By Robert Frank

Tomorrow, residents of Indian origin will light up Laval to celebrate Diwali—one of the most important and colourful celebrations for the region’s South Asian community.

For most Indians, Diwali marks the start of their new year. Unlike many other holidays, the commemoration crosses most religious boundaries and is observed by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists in India as well as some Indian Roman Catholics.

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. Homes are festooned with lights, which remain on through the night. Adherents buy and wear new clothes as an outward symbol of renewal. Indian businesses traditionally start their financial year on Diwali.

“It’s a celebration of hope for the future,” explained South Asian community leader Shama Chopra, “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.”

“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.”

The holiday is marked far beyond India and is a statutory holiday in nearly a dozen countries as far-flung as Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean, and Fiji in the South Pacific.

Already a presence in Laval’s multi-ethnic melting pot, 2011 census figures, released two years ago, show that Punjabi has leapfrogged languages such as Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish and Italian to become Canada’s third most-spoken mother tongue, after English and French.

Those who want to travel over the bridge to Montreal can enjoy the annual firework display, slated to start at 9:30 p.m., Oct. 23, at the Hindu Mandir at 50 Kesmark, Dollard des Ormeaux.

According to Chopra, more than 1,000 people are expected to visit the Dollard des Ormeaux Hindu Mandir, tomorrow evening.
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