Diwali by the computer light

STORY BY GANIMAT KAUR, NIKHIL KUARSINGH, RAMONA LAITAO, HEATHER MACLEAN

Sheridan students celebrate the festival of lights virtually

From social distancing at temples to virtually calling family and friends, Sheridan students are finding new ways to safely celebrate Diwali this week.

Diwali — also known as “the festival of lights” — is a five-day national holiday in India that is celebrated all over the world.

Originally of Hindu origin, it is also celebrated by Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists and other religions. Depending on the Hindu calendar, Diwali falls between mid-October and mid-November.

“Coming from India, Diwali is a big festival there and I think pretty much in some other parts of the world too. We want to recognize that and we know that there are some students who are away from their family.”

– NISHI MEHTA, HMC STUDENT LIFE COORDINATOR

“2020 has been a tough year. International students cannot travel and see their families,” said Jasmeen Kaur, a second-year computer programming student at Sheridan. “I will miss packing gifts and sharing sweets.”

Nishi Mehta, an international student at Sheridan, as well as the Hazel McCallion Student Life coordinator, feels the same.

“This is going to be my first Diwali which is going to be away from home,” Mehta said. “I am going to miss being around my family and my parents and just celebrating with them.”

“The other thing that I [will] miss … [is learning] how to cook the dishes that we do for Diwali,” she said. “So I’m going to be doing that pretty much on my own as well.”

Despite the changes, Kaur and Mehta are looking to make the most out of this year’s celebrations — with both of them planning celebrate virtually with loved ones — and looking forward to certain traditions.

“My favourite part is lighting ‘diyas’ [lamps]. I also love to cook food and enjoy time with my family and friends,” Kaur said.

Mehta says the Sheridan Student Union (SSU) understands the importance of helping students celebrate Diwali this year.

“Coming from India, Diwali is a big festival there and I think pretty much in some other parts of the world too,” she said. “We want to recognize that and we know that there are some students who are away from their family.”

As a result, the SSU is hosting two virtual Diwali events for students to join: a Bollywood dance class, taking place Tuesday at 7 p.m, and a “Light Up The Night,” which will take place Thursday at 10 a.m.

“It is going to be a full-day event where there are different artists who are going to perform,” Mehta said. “There is going to be a Rangoli artist who is going to come because Rangoli is also an important aspect of Diwali.”

“It’s just coming together for a time to celebrate a festival which is so important for everyone.”

Both events are free and students can sign up for both events through the SSU Website.

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