Airdrie’s Indian community came together to light a lamp of friendship, family and fellowship for its annual Diwali Festival at the Town and Country Centre on Sunday.
“Diwali is the biggest festival of India,” explained Indian Society of Airdrie president and co-founder Maulik Shaw. “It’s called the Festival of Lights and it is significantly celebrated across Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. It gives a really good message of the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.”
Shah was thrilled with the turnout on Sunday evening as members of the local Indian community came out to feast together in bright traditional garb. The sold out event also featured performances of dance and song from some talented local families. He was also grateful to Mayor Peter Brown, Banff-Aidrie MP Blake Richards and other local dignitaries who came out to celebrate Diwali.
“We are very happy to be part of this community,” said Shah, and explained that Airdrie now has over 1,000 community members of Indian descent and about 100 local business owners who also claim this heritage.
Pediatric dentist Dr. Peeyush Ranjan of Tooth Pals, who only just arrived in the community two months ago, is one of those business owners, and was also a key sponsor of the Diwali Festival at the Town and Country Centre on Sunday evening.
“Being away from home, though we have been here (in Canada) for years, we always miss home, the culture, and all the celebrations,” Ranjan explained. “We are fortunate there are organizations like the Indian Society of Airdrie who are organizing such events, and we are happy to take part in it … We feel part of being able to contribute back to the community.”
Ranjan said seeing the Airdrie Indian community come together with such joy and celebration created a very emotional feeling in all participants.
“Where you grow up, your heart is,” he explained. “As you grow older and move out for work and whatnot– being part of an event which you used to do as a kid, with people whom you love, I think is priceless.”
Mayor Peter Brown was asked to light the traditional candle which signifies the victory of light over darkness for Diwali festivities at the Town and Country Centre. Brown said he cherishes the meaning behind the Festival of Light.
“It’s a time to let go of all negativity and embrace a new beginning,” he told the assembled guests. “It’s a time to forgive and seek forgiveness, to mend broken relationships, and to spread love and kindness.”
Brown said he also cherished the multiculturalism which has become such an important part of the fabric of Airdrie over the years.
“As we celebrate Diwali, let us also recognize the importance of multiculturalism in our city,” he said. “A multicultural city is vibrant: the tapestry of diverse cultures, languages, traditions and beliefs coming together to create a rich and inclusive community. When people from different backgrounds co-exist and interact, they learn to appreciate, as I have, and respect each other’s differences.
“This promotes tolerance, understanding and harmony, creating a strong sense of our community here in Airdrie.”