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Vancouver celebrates Diwali

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Children arranging candles during the days of the Diwali celebration. Handout Photo.

From indigo to violet, Diwali is lighting up Vancouver through Nov. 3 to Nov. 10, although traditionally it is a five-day celebration.

The final day of  Vancouver Celebrates Diwali (VCD) will be this Saturday throughout downtown in a swirling mix of vibrant colours, shiny garb and intoxicating spices.

“Illuminate was the theme we chose this year as Diwali is known as the festival of lights,” said Ellie O’Day, media contact for VCD. “People can illuminate themselves … the festival is celebrated during harvest time and the sunlight is decreasing during the day.”

But stories change and manners vary, the festival is a celebration of the light within everyone that symbolizes good over evil and darkness.

O’Day says the final day “promises to illuminate Vancouver with eclectic and colourful South Asian cultural displays and performances that celebrate the past and burst into the future.”

“We gave a number of artists the idea of illuminate,” said O’Day. “Lapis had so much fun last year they made a duo for this Saturday.”

There will be stage performances from traditional dancers and musicians like the Chania Chokries, Lapis and DJ A-SLAM.

Lifting mountains long ago

Origins of Diwali date back centuries when Mahavira, an Indian sage, obtained Nirvana – the revered peace of mind free from suffering.

As some legends say, Govardhan Mountain was lifted by Krishna, a Hindu deity, to protect villagers and cattle from the rain.

Traditionally, people will pray up until the big day when they gather with their families.

Since then, Diwali celebrators have been preparing mountains of food and sweets to feast on during celebration in tribute to the Hindu deity.

Diwali in the world

Although an official holiday in many countries out east, the VCD festival has been running for nine years.

Bounties of regional cuisine will also be prepared by such local chefs as Vikram Vij and his food truck, Railway Express.

Some dishes include aromatic curries, spicy fried fritters and nutty legumes to start and milk puddings, sugar doughnuts and sweet fudge for dessert.

Most snacks are prepared weeks in advance with lots of love.

Reported by Brandon Reid

Langara Voice visits the Sunset Community Centre on Main Street in Vancouver for the 2012 Diwali Community Workshop. Video by Dennis Page

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