Diwali pushes on in St. John's, offering reduced capacity celebrations and online prayer

·2 min read
Jeremy Eaton/CBC
Jeremy Eaton/CBC

The Hindu Temple in St. John's celebrated Diwali on Saturday, but like much else this year, things looked a whole lot different because of the pandemic.

There was no mass gathering to celebrate the festival of lights, instead only eight people were allowed inside the temple at a time during a small open house event. The celebration would normally draw hundreds.

Arrows on the floor of the temple kept visitors physically distanced and masks were required, along with hand sanitizer when entering the temple.

Sreevani Katna, a board member for the Hindu Temple in St. John's, told CBC News a lot of work went into pulling off the event this year.

"We still wanted to give our community members a chance to come and celebrate, and do their prayers in the temple like they normally would have, if it wasn't for COVID," she said.

The annual cultural show was also cancelled and there were no fireworks to cap off the evening.

Jeremy Eaton/CBC
Jeremy Eaton/CBC

But the Hindu Temple adapted, Katna said, moving portions of the celebration online in the morning through Zoom.

She said the pandemic has been beneficial in that regard — moving the morning prayer ceremony online allowed people outside of St. John's to join in on the celebration.

"While it was conducted in the temple, we were able to telecast it to our community members via Zoom," she said.

"It went very well, and was well attended."

The Hindu Temple had been forced to close it's doors for a number of months during the pandemic.

It only opened again during the Navaratri festival in October, something Katna said was a big undertaking in terms of logistics.

"I think more so in this year, because people are keeping to themselves more often, because of COVID, we wanted to give them that opportunity to come, and feel like they have some place to go if they needed to pray, to have a sense of community," said Katna.

"The Hindu community here is very strong, and we are like a big family because we're all away from our original home."

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