VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — This weekend, British Columbians celebrating Diwali will need to find different ways to celebrate safely amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The holiday is observed by several religious faiths including Hinduism and Sikhism and symbolizes the triumph of light over dark.
However, the darkness of COVID-19 is surging through Metro Vancouver, prompting calls to avoid places of worship and take part virtually instead.
Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman is pleading with families to celebrate Diwali at home on Nov. 14, saying British Columbians need to get serious about health measures.
“Diwali is all about getting together, whether you’re a resident or in a business. But we need to make sacrifices now to reduce the number of virus cases,” Huberman says.
Last Saturday, B.C.’s top doctor placed a two-week ban on social gatherings for the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions.
Diwali traditions like dropping gifts off to relatives or hosting a prayer are not permitted.
“It means if you want to see your family, do it digitally. Do prayers in your own house with people you live with. If you want to go to the temple, perhaps make a donation to the temple of your choice,” Huberman says.
Surrey businesses are on edge fearing a full lockdown if COVID continues to spread, Huberman says.
Sikh Temple president Narinder Singh says celebrating Diwali responsibly is a matter of life and death. But this year T.V. and radio programs will be broadcasting prayers for the majority of the day.
“I have in my home, my 100-year-old father and 95-year-old mother. So think about those elderly people,” Singh says.