Canada’s Trudeau extends greetings on Diwali, Bandi Chhor Divas
After Covid-19 prevented the traditional celebration of Diwali last year amid restrictions and lockdowns, the Indo-Canadian community marked the festival this year with fireworks as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the festivities at an event in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Fireworks for Diwali were permitted this year in several municipalities, including those in the GTA like Brampton. Trudeau, along with minister of national defence Anita Anand, joined a celebration in the town on Thursday.
“This joyful holiday celebrates the triumph of light over darkness – good over evil and right over wrong – and the power of freedom, hope, and knowledge. On this special occasion, families and friends would typically gather to feast, exchange gifts, and pray, as they light up their homes with diyas,” Trudeau said in a message released by his office.
Anand, who became the first Hindu to feature in the federal cabinet when she was appointed in 2019, also wished those celebrating on Twitter. “This is a time to celebrate light over darkness, good over evil. May your day be bright and beautiful!” She wrote.
Trudeau also sent out greetings for Bandi Chhor Divas, saying, “This celebration is also a reminder of the values Canadians hold dear – freedom, inclusion, and respect. It gives us an opportunity to thank Canadians of the Sikh faith for their contributions to our country, and to learn more about their traditions.”
Minister of international development Harjit Sajjan also tweeted his wishes: “As diyas brighten our homes, we are reminded of the triumph of light over darkness.”
In-person celebrations were possible this year as the Public Health Agency of Canada had earlier issued guidelines for small gatherings of those who are fully vaccinated.
While the community did celebrate, they were careful to institute measures like social distancing. Brampton resident Milan Patel said, “Restrictions have opened up which is kind of a relief for the community. These are not large or grand celebrations but on a smaller scale but we hope next year things will be closer to normal.”
Canada Post has also issued a special commemorative stamp to mark Diwali this year. Designed by Seung Jai Paek, it is layered with a Rangoli pattern and features a lotus, symbolising new beginnings, which forms both the outline and inset, along with a ring of heart-shaped diyas expressing love and gratitude; and a spice box in the centre alluding to the food shared during the Festival of Lights.