Officials at the B.C. legislature marked Diwali with a ceremony that filled the hall of honour with music and lights.
On Tuesday (Oct. 25), Premier John Horgan; premier-designate David Eby; Rachna Singh, parliamentary secretary for anti-racism initiatives; and Surinder Sharma, president of the Victoria Hindu Parishad and Cultural Centre, lit traditional candles and spoke of the importance of the holiday, which started on Monday. Generally lasting five days, Diwali is India’s biggest holiday and is a major cultural event for Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Jain diaspora religions.
“During this time, millions of families will light the Diya, and celebrate the triumph of hope over despair, good over evil, and light over darkness,” said Singh. “We have been through a lot in the last two and a half years, but this is a time for a new beginning. I believe our best and brightest days are ahead of us.”
Sudhakar Ganti, a UVic computer science professor, led the ceremony with a Sanskrit prayer that the darkness of the pandemic will be left behind.
Pratyaksha Awasthi, 14, spoke of the importance of Diwali both to the wider community and to her personally.
“Isn’t it all about inclusivity?” Awasthi said of her take on Diwali. “Had it not been so, I would not have been standing here in front of you, thousands of kilometres from the land which celebrates the culture we talk about.”
Horgan said it was an honour for him to be the premier of British Columbia, which is “as dynamic and diverse as any place on the planet” and to welcome the community into the legislature to celebrate Diwali.
“Throughout the global pandemic, we have seen the best of times, and the worst of times,” said Horgan. “We have seen racism and intolerance, and we have seen love and kindness. These things can and do happen at the same time, but the good news of Diwali, and the good news going froward, is that good will always triumph over evil, knowledge will always triumph over ignorance, and darkness will always be taken over by light.”