Nidhiben Patel hasn’t been away from home for long, but she is already missing her culture in India.
“I was feeling homesick. I’ve only been in Canada for two months,” said Patel, a first-year student in the cloud development and operations program, during a Nov. 14 Diwali celebration at Algonquin College.
“Even though we’re far from home we can still feel at home. It’s nice that Algonquin College organized this event.”
Students, staff, and alumni were invited by the International Education Centre and the Students’ Association to join the celebrations at the Student Commons on the Ottawa campus.
Diwali is a five-day celebration that started in South Asia where Hindu and non-Hindu communities gather to celebrate the triumph of good light over evil darkness.
With a delightful blend of Indian culture, the celebration at the college was free for all attendees. Around 150 students were in the Student Commons, which echoed with the beats of Carnatic music and Bhangra dance. They had the opportunity to adorn themselves with free henna to decorate their bodies.
Diwali is celebrated every autumn between October and November, with the date changing every year.
In South Asia, on the first day of the celebration, people shop for gold or kitchen utensils to help bring good fortune. The second day is designated for decorating your home and creating design patterns called Rangoli on the floor.
On the third day — the main day of the festival and the darkest day of the month, coinciding with the Hindu lunisolar calendar — families gather for a prayer called Lakshmi Puja, to Goddess Lakshmi.
The fourth day of the festival is the first day of the new year. Friends and relatives visit each other with gifts and best wishes for the season.
On the last day of the festival, brothers visit their married sisters and celebrate the last day of the celebration with a meal.
During the celebration at the college, Vanga Akshith Reddy, a first-year student in the international business management program, expressed his excitement.
“We missed Diwali this year because it was two days ago back in India,” said Reddy. “The event is fun. It’s great that the college took the initiative to celebrate with us.”