About 230 people attended a slightly delayed celebration at the St. John's Hindu Temple on Saturday for Diwali, the festival of lights.
Temple chair Aruna Ralhan says celebrating as a community is an important part of Diwali. Yet, given a quickly-growing community eager to celebrate, attendance has to be regulated with the sale of tickets.
"I wish our temple was larger," said Ralhan.
"I would love to see our neighbours and our neighbours' children experience what Diwali is all about but at this current moment, we are barely able to accommodate the community which is here of East Indian origin."
Diwali, which spans five days, is the largest Hindu festival of the year, and also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains all over the world.
Its main theme is good winning over evil, light over darkness.
While it is annually held on varying dates between mid-October and mid-November, the height of this year's celebrations was on Oct. 24.
At the St. John's temple, celebrations are usually held on the Saturday following Diwali, Ralhan said, but this year a good cause postponed it by another week — a fundraiser for victims of post-tropical storm Fiona.
"One of the part of Diwali is giving — giving to our neighbours, giving to our community for the well-being of all," said Ralhan.
The fundraiser, as Ralhan announced in a speech during the event, raised $14,000.
In the same spirit of giving, money will also be donated to The Gathering Place community service centre in St. John's, as well as to the food bank at Memorial University's St. John's campus — a decision that was made after Ralhan heard of the food bank's increased demand.
"I was shocked to hear … they had to close because they had no items. It made me cry," Ralhan said in her speech.
"Remember, when you enjoy that scrumptious meal prepared by our volunteers, every day at home by your mom, by your spouse, there are people going hungry. What am I going to do about that? I want us to think about that. That truly is the spirit of Diwali."
The celebrations Saturday night not only included speeches but also food, fireworks and a cultural program featuring dances, songs and skits.
The event preparations took about two weeks, with volunteers cleaning and decorating the temple. Even some walls were freshly painted, as cleaning for Diwali symbolizes cleaning one's mind and soul, Ralhan said.
For newcomers to the province, she said, it is crucial being able to celebrate Diwali in a big community while settling in a foreign place.
"Adapting in the new culture is very important, amalgamating in that, but yet being able to celebrate some of those festivals that I grew up with is also very, very important," said Ralhan.
"We celebrate Halloween, we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate Valentine's Day. But then, we also celebrate Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Holi. So, we kind of got the best of the two worlds."