One of the biggest festivities of the year is approaching. For many Indians, Diwali is the most important time of the year. Most nonresident Indians prefer to be with their loved ones for the festive occasion. However there are many travel restrictions this year, making travel difficult and more costly than usual. Here is a look at how NRIs will celebrate Diwali 2020 in Canada.
NRIs in Canada
There were 994,667 registered Indians in Canada in 2018. The largest Indian populations reside in Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. The National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) is a non-profit research organization focused on immigration, international trade, and other issues related to the global economy. The foundation discovered in a recent study that the number of NRIs in Canada increased by 80,685 in 2019. It also reported that Indians represent 25% of the total immigrant population in Canada, and lead all other migrant communities in terms of numbers.
Diwali in Canada
With the vast community of NRIs in Canada, parts of the country resemble miniature versions of India. Indian culture and cuisine already have significant presence. The celebration of Indian festivities like Diwali takes center stage in regions with large NRI communities. Diwali is arguably the most significant celebration of the year for migrant Indians. Toronto organizes a mega Diwali Mela (carnival) where Canadians and NRI’s come together in large numbers. The communal celebration is characterized by dazzling lights, fireworks, and lots of traditional Indian food.
Carrying forward traditions
The traditional thing to do on Diwali is to dress your best and visit friends and family. Indians exchange gifts and sweets, indulge in fine cuisine, and celebrate with fireworks. Diwali is the festival of lights. Indians decorate their houses on the inside and out with lots of little earthen oil lamps.
Diwali is scheduled according to the lunar calendar. It is observed on the fifteenth day of Kartik, the holiest month in the Hindu lunar calendar. The event usually falls in either October or November each year, depending on the cycle of the moon. This year Diwali will be celebrated on November 14. November in most of Canada is quite cold. Some of the traditional activities have had to adapt to the cold Canadian weather. The lighting and decorations have largely been moved indoors. The emphasis on fireworks has diminished. This year, owing to COVID-19 restrictions, large gatherings will be rare. Social visits will also take a back seat. Other aspects such as food and shopping will gain prominence.
Diwali and remittances
The World Bank reported that India received USD 83 billion in remittances in 2019. During festive periods NRIs send larger remittance transfers. Diwali is the most prominent of these events. Diwali is traditionally a time to buy new stuff including clothes, houses, cars, jewelry, and the like. Many NRIs travel back home for Diwali. This year, owing to restriction, many of them won’t be able to. Instead, they send money to India in the form of gifts of money to their families. This year Ria Money Transfer has launched a special Diwali promotion. Ria will add another $10 to your first money transfer to India, so your loved ones get more. Use promo code: DIWALI.
Diwali amid COVID-19
The Government of Canada has placed some restrictions on all travelers entering Canada. These include mandatory quarantining or isolation. People undergoing self-isolation won’t receive guests at their homes or attend public events. NRIs who wish to celebrate with their families must plan well ahead. The same applies to NRIs traveling back to India for Diwali.
Other measures put in place by the Canadian government include social distancing of 2 meters and avoiding crowded places. Some provinces, such as Ontario, have imposed bans on the sale and use of fireworks. According to a statement by the mayor of Mississauga the ban is intended to discourage large gatherings and crowds with a view to promote resident safety. The ban was implemented before Victoria Day and was applicable during the Chinese Day and Canada Day. The restriction is set to apply to Diwali, and will likely remain in force during Christmas and New Year’s. The city’s residents can enjoy a virtual fireworks display from previously recorded videos.
NRI’s are a persistent lot. They will not let the COVID-19 disruptions put a damper on Diwali festivities. They may not be as grand as last year, but Diwali celebrations in Canada for November 2020 are certainly on.