Diwali In Canada: How To Celebrate The Festival Of Lights This Weekend

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You may have noticed some of your South Asian friends lighting small tealights or cooking up traditional Indian sweets over the past few days. That's because it's Diwali -- the festival of lights and an annual celebration of good conquering evil.

"Diwali has a lot of background in philosophy and religion. It signifies the Hindu God Lord Rama coming home after being in exile for 14 years," says Shiv Jindal, president of the board of trustees of the Hindu Temple of Ottawa. At least 1,500 people have been filling Jindal's Temple daily this week. And though it's a traditional South Asian fest, Jindal says Diwali is fun to celebrate -- even if you're not Hindu.

The festival is so large -- and is celebrated on an annual basis by so many people around the world -- some even believe Diwali should be the next mainstream holiday for North Americans.

"Some day it's my hope we'll say, "It's Diwali," and our bosses will say, "Oh, OK... take the day off,'" says Suhag Shukla, managing director of the Hindu American Foundation.

And while Diwali is about eating traditional Indian foods and enjoying Hindu culture, it's also about spending time with family and friends. "Many exchange gifts, get together and eat and plan ahead for the new year," says Jindal.

So go ahead and celebrate this weekend and next! Here are some local Diwali events happening across Canada.

Vancouver
Diwali 2011: The Festival of Lights: Food, Fun And Fundraising
Toronto
Diwali 2011 & Chopada Pujan & Laxmi Puja (prayer)
Bharati, The Wonder That Is India At The Sony Centre
Montreal
Diwali Celebration: Dancing, Food And Fun
Calgary
Diwali Show With A Difference 2011
Edmonton
Alberta Gujarati Association Diwali And Dinner Dance
Halifax
Halifax Hindu Temple Diwali Celebrations

If you can't make it to an event, try out some of these South Asian recipes in honour of the festival.

Potato And Onion Vindaloo With Raisins, Almonds And Mint

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) yellow fleshed potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1/2 cup (125 mL) slivered almonds
2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
4 cups (1 L) onion, finely sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) raisins
1 bottle VH Vindaloo Cooking Sauce
1/4 cup (60 mL) fresh mint, finely sliced

Method
In a medium pot boil potatoes until almost tender for about 12 minutes. Strain and set aside.
While potatoes are cooking, place almonds in a large pot (with no oil) and toast over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, stir constantly. Add onion and oil and continue to cook until onions are softened and lightly browned for about 10 minutes.
Add potatoes and raisins to pot, along with the sauce. To the empty bottle add 1/2 cup (125 mL) of water, place lid back on, shake and add everything into the pot.
Cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until potatoes are fully tender, stir in mint and serve with warm naan (Indian flat bread) or rice.

Additional Recipes:
Vegetable samosa recipe.
Indian fried rice with cardamom recipe.
Indian spiced shrimp recipe.

Check out what people are saying on Twitter about Diwali.

Celebrating Diwali Worldwide
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