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By Aarti Pole

The Diwali festivities came to a close on Sunday night and the Hindu holiday season is officially over.

On Nov. 12, 762 million Hindu adherents and 16 million Sikhs all over the world took part in the Hindu counterpart to Christmas, also known as Deepavali, or to most Canadians, the festival of lights.

Diwali symbolizes many different achievements and causes for celebration for Indians. During the Diwali celebrations, houses are cleaned, gifts are exchanged and festive meals are prepared.

In India, entire cities are lit up by small candles also knows as diyas, and festivities and parades are held throughout the country. According to the 2001 Canadian census, there are about 500,000 Indo-Canadians, 200,000 of which live in Ontario.

“There are maybe 1,000 – 3,000 [Indo-Canadians] at Ryerson, it’s hard to tell,” said the Indo-Canadian Student Association co-president, April Kalloo. “Our university is actually the most multicultural in Ontario.”

With more than five student groups catering towards Indo-Canadians, many Ryerson students celebrated Diwali over the weekend. Students went to local temples, to families’ homes, and to community-hosted dinners.

Little India on Gerrard Street was a great place to celebrate. Food shops sold sweets, music blared on the streets and fireworks lit up the sky. On Nov. 12, Gerrard Street between Hiawatha Road and Ashdale Avenue, was closed until midnight.

Diwali is a time for family and friends to give thanks to each other and to the gods for the prosperity and joy they have received and for what is to come. The Hindu Students Association, founded in 2003 by fourth-year ITM student Amit Bhandari, will be hosting a Diwali formal on Friday, Nov. 19, in collaboration with the University of Toronto Scarborough.

The event is being hosted in order to educate others on Diwali and to encourage the Indo-Canadian population at the two schools to meet one another. “There are quite a few (Indo-Canadians) at Ryerson, but a lot of the population is untapped, it’s huge,” Bhandari explained. “A lot of people don’t understand the culture.”

With this in mind, the formal will be a chance for all cultures to learn more about Diwali, the most widely celebrated festival for Indo-Canadians.

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