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Diwali Celebration by RMCS

Los Angeles, Nov 19, 2023 Sanghera
Ramesh/ A.Gary Singh

Richmond Multicultural Community Services (RMCS) celebrated Diwali on Tuesday, November 14 with a great deal of excitement. This community organization has been serving the residents and new- comers to Richmond since 1985. Its volunteers enjoy helping out with various activities and programs. Like every other celebration,  the RMCS staff and management worked very hard in making this year's  celebration too a great success. It was a truly multicultural audience. The entire premises were brimming with enthusiasm. The audience consisted of all ages-children and adults . Co-ordinator of Settlement Programs for RMCS, Ashok Rattan, welcomed the attendees and gave a brief overview of the program. A number of elected representatives including MPs Wilson Miao, Parm Bains, MLAs Henry Yao, Kelly Green, Teresa Wat, school trustees  Rod Belleza, Alice Wong and David Yang and many others graced the occasion . All of them ,brought greetings and  presented certificates of appreciation to the RMCS.

It was a great honour for me to give a brief overview of Diwali celebrations in different communities and its significance in the current situation in the world. This festival of lights is the South Asian version of Christmas . This celebration signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. For Hindus, it represents the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom of Ayudhiya in central India after spending 14 years in exile. Sikhs celebrate the festival as Bandi Chhor Divas or the Prisoner Liberation Day. On this day, guru Hargobind ji, the sixth Guru of the Sikh faith returned to Amritsar after being released from the Gwalior Fort prison. When Mughal Emperor Jehangir realized his mistake of imprisoning Guru ji on falsehoods, he respectfully released him from prison along with 52 chieftains. As such, it is known as the Bandi Chhor Diwas by the Sikhs. 

Jains celebrate this day as it signifies the attainment of Moksha or salvation by their founder Mahavir. Similarly, this day is also celebrated by many other communities including Newar Buddhists' must be commended for celebrating special festivals and days like this.  Like previous years, this year’s celebration also attracted a large number of people. A lot of New Canadians including international students were also present for the festivities.  The RMCS staff did an excellent job in providing very enjoyable entertainment and delicious food for the attendees. In the current environment of turmoil and conflict in the world celebrations like this have added significance. On such occasions we realize as to how fortunate we are to live in a peaceful, welcoming and inclusive country like Canada. 

Balwant Sanghera 
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)