Diwali not quite the same this year, due to the pandemic

Lower Mainland health authorities have issued guidelines for celebrating safely

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      People of South Asian ancestry around the world are celebrating Diwali, which officially takes place on Saturday (November 14)

      It's a Hindu holiday commemorating the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.

      Diwali's universal message is also embraced by adherents of other faiths in India. It's often commemorated with firecrackers across the Indian subcontinent, sometimes lasting for several days.

      Normally, Diwali also creates long lineups outside shops selling Indian sweets in Metro Vancouver, but the pandemic has put a damper on family gatherings this year.

      So not as many of these treats are being sold.

      Another Diwali casualty is the annual celebration at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre in Vancouver. 

      There also won't be any big festive events at the B.C. legislature.

      But hey, there's always social media. Below, you can see a few of the messages being passed around in the Lower Mainland.

      Health guidelines

      As with other celebrations like Halloween, the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, and Thanksgiving, local health authorities have issued guidelines for celebrating Diwali safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

      The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) recommends keeping gatherings small.

      B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order that restrict people to socializing with only their household members remains in effect for Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health regions until November 23.

      In addition, the BCCDC recommends celebrating through virtual means, including radio broadcast or livestreamed prayers and festivities from gurdwaras and temples, and either celebrating outside if possible or in large, well-ventilated rooms where physical distancing is possible.

      For food, the BCCDC advises avoiding buffet-style settings and instead provide meals on individual plates for each person. Food items like daal and sabji can be poured into individual bowls while pakoras, samosas, barfi, and besan can be placed on to each person’s plate.

      Food and beverages that have been in someone’s mouth shouldn’t be shared between people for eating or drinking.

      Fraser Health has provided videos and graphics available in several languages, including Hindi, Punjabi, and English, that can be shared on social media: