By Josh Chang
Between Yom Kippur in early October and Diwali at the end, religious students at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) have found different ways to celebrate and socialize throughout the month.
Jewish holidays are among the first religious celebrations in early October. Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah are major events in the Jewish High Holy Days, all occurring within the first three weeks of the month. Yom Kippur, beginning at sunset on Oct. 4, is one of the holiest days of the year in Judaism.
“Yom Kippur is a day of atonement where we fast and pray…We fast for about 25 hours, from sundown to sundown,” said third-year graphic communications management student Samantha Benezra. “We don’t eat or shower or anything because you’re supposed to be focused.”
Benezra said Yom Kippur is a sombre time of reflection, where people are encouraged to focus on prayer. The real celebration begins after the fast is complete.
“This is the first Diwali where I’ll be far from my home”
“Once it’s over, there’s a dinner at the end where everyone is speaking and the social aspect comes out,” she said.
Benezra also added that it’s become more difficult to get time off for Yom Kippur as she’s gotten older, especially as a university student.
“I have three classes that day,” she said. “This year I won’t be able to go to the synagogue.”
One student is most looking forward to spending time with her family. Maya Nadler, a third-year RTA media production student, said that Yom Kippur and the Jewish High Holidays are ideal occasions to reconnect with loved ones.
“It’s the time of year I get to have nice family meals and see the Jewish community come together,” said Nadler. “These holidays are meant for starting over which means apologizing for mistakes and resolving to do better.”
“These holidays are meant for starting over which means apologizing for mistakes and resolving to do better.”
Diwali, otherwise known as the festival of lights, takes place on Oct. 24 and is celebrated across the Hindu, Jain, Newar Buddhist and Sikh communities.
“I’ll be celebrating [Diwali] with my family and probably some friends on campus,” said Saurav Jain, an international student in his fourth year of international economics and finance. “It’s a social event and that’s the main core of Diwali.”
After moving to Toronto from India for university, first-year journalism student Amulyaa Dwivedi is nervous and excited to experience Diwali for the first time in a new home. She plans to celebrate with her cousin, who also recently moved to Toronto.
“This is the first Diwali where I’ll be far from my home,” she said. “I’m going to go over to my cousin’s and [will] help her make her first Diwali here a good one.”
Dwivedi explained that one of the best parts of the holiday is seeing everyone—religious or not—share food and celebrate the holiday.
“That’s what I like about Diwali, no one is left out,” she said. “Everybody comes together to celebrate Diwali.”