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City of Belleville welcomes all to its first ever Diwali celebration

Deputation to celebrate Diwali for the first time in Belleville was carried in Tuesday night’s council meeting. Photo from Youtube

By Rhythm Rathi [1]

BELLEVILLE – The city will witness its first-ever Diwali [2] celebration on city property on Sunday Oct. 17.

Council heard a deputation from Hardik Patel and Anjani Surelia at the council meeting [3] on Tuesday.

Diwali is a five-day-long festival of lights that originated in India. It is one of the major celebrations for the Hindu community as it holds religious significance. The Belleville celebration will be held in Market Square starting at 3 p.m and going until 7 p.m.

The Hindus celebrate Diwali to mark the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.

One of the greatest Hindu mythological scriptures Ramayana has the tale, where Lord Rama returns to his kingdom Ayodhya with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana after defeating Ravana in the kingdom of Lanka. 

Ravana abducted Sita while she was serving exile with her husband and brother-in-law in the woods.

Diwali is the day that marks the victory of Rama over Ravana and his return to the kingdom after rescuing his wife and completing 14 years of exile.

The event at Market Square will be open to everyone and the very first one for the city.

There will be Bollywood dance performances, singing performances, colourful decorations, pre-packaged food, and music.

Surelia said, “the students will share (their experiences) about how they celebrate the festival back home so it will be a walk down to their memories.”

“It will be emotional as well because it is the first time they are celebrating here,” she added.

Those who are curious and wish to visit to explore the Indian culture will also have an opportunity to talk to people who will be there to explain to the residents about the stories, meaning and culture of the festival and India.

It is celebrated across the Indian subcontinent and in many other countries where the community resides.

People with different faiths and religions also celebrate their religious festivals alongside Diwali, which makes the celebration grand.

People begin cleaning their houses as the festival approaches and discard all dirty or broken items.

On the day of Diwali, people put lights and oil lamps inside and outside their homes, decorate their floors with colourful murals, distribute sweets, dress in new clothes, go to temples and other religious places to pray and gather on the streets to burst firecrackers. 

I never thought this event will happen in such a grand manner, said Patel.

For this event we are getting support from everywhere, from all the councillors, from Loyalist College, from international students and also the Bay of Quinte, he added.

“We really are very pleased about this because we want to provide a big welcome to all the international students that are at Loyalist College,” said Mayor Mitch Pancuik.

He added, “that have come during these very difficult times where you haven’t been able to travel home, we want you to feel that this is your home and welcome you.” 

Councillor Sean Kelly is working closely with the organizers and is involved in ensuring a successful execution.

Kelly says he is excited for the event and is looking forward to it.

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/selection-1-sean-kelley-on-diwali-1201pm.mp3 [7]

He recognizes that there are a lot of students and residents of Belleville who grew up in India and choose to make Canada their home.

He says this cultural exchange is important to give them a feeling of inclusion. “I think being accepted wherever you are, whatever nationality or colour you are is paramount.”

Kelly is now the head of the city’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee.

http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/selection-2-sean-kelley-on-diwali-1201pm.mp3 [8]

The event will be beneficial for the cultural exchange as the residents of Belleville will be able to learn and see how the community celebrates their festival.

“I think the biggest thing will be education and getting a look at it first hand right in our own community instead of (learning) through movies or an event from Toronto. This is happening in our own backyard,” said Kelly. 

Map By Rhythm Rathi

Find event itinerary below:

3:00 pm Introduction
3:05 pm Ganesh Pooja (Prayer)
3:15 pm Dr. Aruna Alexander speech

(Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Committee)

3:21 pm Mayor Mitch Panciuk speech
3:30 pm First Dance Performance
3:45 pm Guitar Performance
4:00 pm Educational Bit (Indian Culture and Background)
4:20 pm Welcome MPP and Elected MP of Belleville
4:30 pm Vendor Intro and appreciation
4:45 pm Second Dance Performance
5:00 pm Loyalist College President

Ann Marie Vaughan Speech

5:15 pm Singing Performance
5:30 pm Councillor Sean Kelly to engage crowd
6:00 pm Hindi Pop Culture (Bollywood DJ songs)
6:15 pm Lighting Sparkles
6:30 pm Dance the night out