On the night of the November new moon, when the sky is at its darkest, Diwali celebrates light. In some regions it commemorates a god’s return from exile or a hero’s triumph over evil; for many it’s a time to light clay lamps, lay out colourful rangolis made from sand and flowers, exchange gifts and feast with friends and family.
In 2020, many Diwali celebrations were cancelled due to the pandemic, but organizers across the west coast of North America have created new ways to safely celebrate this year.
Diwali is a fantastic way to combat all of the pandemic’s worst feelings. After a year-and-a-half apart, Diwali celebrates joining together across families, and even across Indian religions. When the days get shorter and pessimism creeps in, Diwali encourages us to light candles and decorate with colourful flowers and lanterns to bring in the light.
On the first day of this five-day festival many people clean their homes, either to encourage the goddess Lakshmi to visit and bring prosperity and good fortune, or simply to start the new year with a clean slate. With all of our obsessive hand-washing and sanitizing during the pandemic, Diwali’s cleaning tradition is a great fit!
4 places to celebrate Diwali in 2021
- Orange County Great Park, California, Oct. 23: This free event on Saturday, Oct. 23 brings the community together with music, dance performances, food, henna and a lamp lighting ceremony. Learn more at ektaacenter.org/home/ektaa-diwali-fest-2021
- Seattle, Washington, Nov. 6: Snap up tickets aboard The Spirit of 76 yacht for a Diwali party cruising the Seattle harbour. Enjoy music from Bollywood as well as Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam hits and dance the night away! Indian traditional dress is highly encouraged, but not required. Buy tickets at showpass.com/diwali-fusion-indian-boat-party-seattle-2021
- Vancouver, British Columbia, Nov. 2: The in-person Diwali festival at Trout Lake Community Centre is sold-out, but DiwaliFest is also offering a free digital showcase on Nov. 2. Enjoy your own feast at home, while tuning into the show featuring music and dance from talented local artists. Find more information at diwalifest.ca
- Banff, Alberta, Oct. 30: Ride the Banff Gondola on Saturday, Oct. 30 and celebrate Diwali from the summit of Sulphur Mountain! In partnership with the Indian Society of Calgary, the gondola will be decked out with colourful decorations, and at the top of the mountain you’ll find activities, exhibits and traditional sweets for the whole family. Reserve your tickets at banffjaspercollection.com/attractions/banff-gondola/events