Diwali, Bandi Chhor Divas celebrated across Canada and the world

Canadians across the country joined the millions around the world celebrating Diwali on Sunday.

Diwali is a five-day festival of lights — commonly celebrated globally by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists — that occurs in October or November each year based on Panchangam, or the Hindu calendar. This year, Diwali is celebrated on Nov. 12.

The origin story of Diwali varies depending on the region. All these stories have one underlying theme — the victory of good over evil.

Sikhs also celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas  — which commemorates the release of Guru Hargobind, a revered figure in the faith, who had been imprisoned for 12 years by the Mughal emperor Jahangir and coincides with Diwali.

Over the five days of Diwali, people take part in festive gatherings, fireworks displays, feasts and prayer.

In Ontario, however, celebrations in Brampton were tempered due to a ban on fireworks in private spaces. City council enacted the ban last year following hundreds of noise complaints. Those in Brampton looking to take part in pyrotechnics could only do so at a city-run event at Sesquicentennial Park, which touted “a dazzling 15-minute fireworks show.”

Brampton residents set off fireworks to mark Diwali in November 2021. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

In Manitoba, students at a Winnipeg Sikh school celebrated the festival of lights with singing, dancing and prayers. The students had been rehearsing for the concert since September, principal Amandeep Sran said. They also planned to light Diyas, or oil candles, and fireworks were set to be on display at the end of the show.

Children stand on a stage holding pom poms above their head.
Children perform during a Diwali celebration in Winnipeg on Sunday. (Prabhjot Singh Lotey/CBC)

In British Columbia, visitors to Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, a Hindu temple in Surrey, arrived bright and early to light lamps. Meanwhile, the organization Diwali Fest celebrated it’s 20th year with performances, art workshops and henna hand designs at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam.

Vancouver’s Diwali Fest turns 20

Featured VideoSouth Asian communities in B.C. are preparing for Diwali this weekend. A local organization, Diwali Fest, has been leading the celebrations for the past 20 years, bringing artists and community members together under one roof

In Nova Scotia, chef Gurpreet Kaur, who is originally from northern India, eschewed her usual eggs and toast fare to feature a Punjabi brunch menu at Selkie’s Neighbourhood Diner in Sydney. Dishes include momos, paratha, masala omelette and a traditional pudding.

A chef holds a dumpling in their hands.
Selkie’s Neighbourhood Diner chef Gurpreet Kaur holds a momo. (Selkie’s Neighbourhood Diner/Facebook)

“As we mark Diwali, we also recognize the many contributions of Canadians from Hindu, Jain, Sikh, and Buddhist communities to our country’s cultural fabric, and we celebrate their role in making Canada the diverse and inclusive place we call home,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement on Sunday.

Trudeau, in a separate statement, also wished happy Bandi Chhor Divas to those celebrating, saying, “This holiday is a reminder that when we come together as a society, we can achieve a world that stands for peace, freedom, and community.”

In India, devotees in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, set a Guinness World Record by lighting more than 2.22 million lamps and kept them burning for 45 minutes.

An aerial view shows people lighting lamps along the banks of a river.
Lamps light up the banks of the river Saryu on the eve of Diwali, in Ayodhya, India, on Saturday. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/The Associated Press)

In Pakistan, people offered prayers at the Shri Swaminarayan Temple in Karachi, set off firecrackers, shared sweets and exchanged gifts.

A person lights fireworks.
A person holds fireworks during a Diwali celebration at Somi Narin temple in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sunday. (Fareed Khan/The Associated Press)

In Sri Lanka, devotees lit and placed oil lamps at a religious ceremony during the Diwali festival at the Ponnambalavaneshwaram Hindu temple in Colombo.

A devotee places lit candles on a surface during a religious ceremony.
A devotee prepares to place oil lamps at a religious ceremony at a Hindu temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Sunday. (Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters)

In Britian, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who is Hindu, lit candles with his family outside 10 Downing Street before they visited the Vedic Society Hindu Temple in Southampton, England, for Diwali celebrations.

A family lights candles outside a building.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, right, lights candles with his wife and children outside of 10 Downing Street in London on Sunday. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

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