Diwali, the spectacular Hindu festival of lights known all over the world was celebrated in Chestermere at the Yacht Club on Friday, November. 01. Hosted by Community Services in cooperation with volunteers from Chestermere’s Inclusion Committee, people in attendance were able to light candles, eat authentic food, hear stories and play games together.
The festivities symbolize the victory of light over dark, good over evil, and knowledge over darkness and celebrates the return of Prince Rama and his beautiful wife Sita to their kingdom after Rama killed the evil demon king, Ravanna. The story goes on to explain that the couples journey home was long so everybody lit oil lamps to guide them on their way and welcome them back. People continue to celebrate today by lighting candles and decorating their homes.
The idea to celebrate this festival with the community in Chestermere was first brought up by Chestermere resident, Patricia Virk. She shared her idea with the staff at Community Services and eventually the Inclusion Committee. “I thought it would be a nice reason to get people together to make a community connection which then enriches lives” Virk says of her idea.
The goal of the Inclusion Committee, which meets once per month, is to increase the awareness of the rich and diverse cultures within Chestermere and to help create a welcoming and inclusive community. “The more we gain knowledge and understanding of each other, the more we learn that we are all more alike than we are different” says Patti Brown, Community Development Manager at Community Services.
Brown explains that this is the first in a series of cultural events that the group would like to put on. They are looking for ideas and feedback from the community on the types of festivals or celebrations they would like to attend. Some ideas they are already thinking of are the Chinese New Year and Ukrainian Christmas but they are asking for the communities help to introduce them to other cultures and festivals.
Chestermere’s Festival of Lights was sponsored by Starbucks and catered by Tandoori King so thank you to both of them for their support. Thank you to Community Services and the Inclusion committee along with all the other volunteers, as well as the Yacht Club. A special thank you goes to Narmail Chana who took the time to tell us more about the history of Diwali, and Patricia Virk for sharing this special celebration with the community.