Surrey Schools celebrates Diwali and Hindu Heritage Month
Schools across Surrey and White Rock have been shining a light on Diwali, India’s biggest and brightest holiday of the year, as well as Hindu Heritage Month all November long.
Diwali is a festival of light that celebrates the triumph of good (light) over evil (darkness) in South Asian cultures and is celebrated over five days in parts of India. Diwali takes place on the darkest night of the Hindu lunisolar calendar, during which Sikhs, Hindus, Jains and some Buddhists light diyas to celebrate the victory of light. Around this time of year, Sikhs also celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas, commemorating the release of Guru Hargobind and 52 imprisoned Hindu Kings in the early 1600s, coinciding with Diwali.
“Like many different festivals, Diwali provides an opportunity for people to celebrate who they are, as well as how important different times of the year are to our identity,” said JB Mahli, Director of Instruction with the Surrey Schools Racial Equity department. “Diwali is really tied to the lunar calendar, and people are now used to seeing how the lunar calendar is a moment of change and transformation and understanding to people’s history and culture.”
This year, Diwali also falls during Hindu Heritage Month, which acknowledges the contributions of the Hindu community to Canada’s growth.
For Racial Equity helping teacher Suparsha Sharda, Diwali has been a big part of her Hindu background beyond simply being the festival of lights, and notes that celebrations can differ not just among Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, but within cultural and religious groups too.
“It’s not just light and dark or evil versus good, it’s a time for us to reflect on how we can build knowledge and understanding and remove ignorance,” said Sharda. “That works in every religious group, every cultural group and every school, in the pursuit of racial equity.
“Even for Hindus, Diwali is celebrated differently all over India, but there are regional differences in how we observe. But in the end, it’s the food, the celebration, and the sense of community that unites and connects us, and it’s interesting to see how different families represent that and celebrate it in their homes.”
Throughout the district, students and schools are holding numerous Diwali celebrations, both last week and this week, with food, dancing, music and much, much more!
Queen Elizabeth Secondary held its Diwali celebration last week, featuring a traditional dance performance by students.
Earl Marriott Secondary has decorated its halls for Diwali, including some creative rangoli art on the floor outside the athletics department.
Students at Newton Elementary and Kwantlen Park Secondary made decorations for Diwali, including lanterns and flowers.
The Enver Creek Secondary multicultural club offered diyas for sale and decoration at lunch, and Tamanawis Secondary’s multicultural club invited students to wear traditional clothing for their Diwali celebration.
Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary offered henna to students, with proceeds benefiting the bhangra team, and the antiracism committee at Elgin Park Secondary hosted a Diwali event on Nov. 14.
SAIL students also shared a dance performance in the atrium at the District Education Centre on Thursday to celebrate Diwali.
Happy Diwali to all of our students and staff celebrating!