Canada Post has produced a new commemorative stamp to mark Diwali, a festival celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and others around the world.
This year Diwali falls on Saturday, Nov. 14, with festivities continuing for five days.
Of course, large gatherings are not encouraged during the COVID-19 pandemic, so festivities will be more subdued.
Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, usually falls in either October or November, as its date is based on the Hindu lunar calendar. It celebrates victory of good over evil, light over darkness.
Designed by Entro Communications, Canada Post’s new Diwali stamp features a diya and a geometric background evocative of a traditional rangoli. The domestic-rate stamp is available in a booklet of 10 stamps.
The stamps are sold online at canadapost.ca/shop.
This year some Diwali celebrations will shift to the digital world. Among them is the annual 5X Festival, which aims to replace in-person parties and events with virtual performances and other ways of engaging an audience during the pandemic.
The Surrey-based festival organizers will celebrate Diwali with a 5X MainStage event on the weekend of Nov. 14-15, online at 5xfest.com.
The festival, which aims to champion South Asian youth culture for those aged 16 to 35, has featured a flagship Surrey festival outdoors in recent years, including one in June 2019.
Diwali comes from the Sanskrit word dipavali, meaning rows of lights.
Diyas – small shallow receptacles made of clay that hold purified butter – are lit to ward off evil and to usher in goodness with light.
Followers of each religion go to their respective place of worship to pray and light the diyas on this holy night.
There are many different legends about how and why people celebrate Diwali.
For Sikhs, Diwali is particularly important because it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, and 52 other princes with him, in 1619.
The Sikh tradition holds that Mogul Emperor Jahangir agreed to release Guru Hargobind Ji but said only those princes who could hold onto his cloak tail would be allowed to leave the prison as well.
In response, Guru Hargobind Ji had a cloak made with 52 pieces of string so each prince was able to hold onto one string and leave prison. Followers lit diyas to celebrate their guru’s homecoming.
Hindus follow the legend of Lord Rama and his wife Sita’s return home after 14 years in exile and also of Lord Rama’s epic battle with the demon King Rawan, whom he kills.
The people of Ayodha, home of Lord Rama, were so excited to hear that their beloved future king was coming home that they lit the way for him and his wife Sita with diyas.
Black Press Media