Stories of Our Culture: Navaratri and Diwali

February 22, 2021

By Vishal K Dalal – ECA Director

In the October issue of the Inside Edgemont President’s message, Bill Kirk invited us to share our stories and experiences that have shaped us in these challenging times and asked us how we continue to see a brighter side and move forward. 

2020 seems to be the worst year ever, the world is in chaos, people have lost loved ones, some have lost their homes and livelihoods and there are days when nothing seems to be going right.

But when I look at this year, I see only hope.  I see the circle of time (the Kaal-Chakra) that tells me that everything has a beginning and an end, that there is always a new morning on the horizon, and that every night is beautiful with the stars, the moon and the peace and quiet.

I reflect on the year and count my blessings that my family is healthy, that we are gainfully employed, have a roof over our heads and food on the table and I am grateful for our Edgemont Community and the Indian-Canadian community of which I am a part.

In this time of seeming darkness, the festive season for Indians over the past couple of months, although in much smaller settings and gatherings, continues to bring hope to our lives; traditions are honored and celebrations are conducted.  I wanted to share how we celebrate these festivities to share blessings and to spread some light and happiness to other families at this time of year.

May Dussehra, Durga Puja and Diwali bring you lots of joy and happiness.  I invite you to share some of this joy and generously donate to the Christmas Hampers at the Edgemont Community Association to help our community families find some joy and happiness this holiday season.

Navaratri, Durga Puja and Dussehra – October 17-26, 2020

The nine days of the Navaratri festival honor the mother goddess Durga in all her incarnations.  The tenth day, called Dussehra, celebrates the defeat of the demon king Ravan by Lord Ram and monkey god Hanuman.  Navratri is celebrated differently in India’s various regions. For many it is a time of reflection and fasting; for others it is a time for dancing and feasting. In Eastern India, the festival is observed as Durga Puja. It’s the biggest festival of the year in Kolkata.

Diwali – November 14, 2020

Diwali, also known as the Indian Festival of lights, is celebrated on the darkest night (Amavasya) during the Hindu Lunisolar month of Kartika (mid-October to mid-November). It is one of the most awaited festivals in India and symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance”.  It’s known as the “Festival of Lights” as all homes and buildings are festooned with lights using small clay lamps, garlands of lights and candles. In the lead up to Diwali homes are cleaned, painted, renovated and decorated with lights, Rangoli and diyas, people wear their finest clothes, visit friends and relatives, greetings are exchanged, gatherings and parties are held. Gambling is encouraged during this season as a way of ensuring good luck for the coming year and in remembrance of the games of dice played by the Lord Shiva and Parvati.