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TORONTO: The Sringeri temple – the only one in Canada which opened with much fanfare in 2009 – ended this season’s Diwali celebrations with a bang on Sunday, with Toronto mayor Joh Tory, Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey and MPP Amrit Mangat joining the Indo-Canadian community in the festivities.
But instead of the fireworks, there was the melodious evening of uplifting Hindustani classical music, bhajans and ghazals by noted Indo-Canadian vocalists. Of course, there were choicest dishes of Diwali sweets and Indian cuisine.
The Diwali evening was inaugurated with the lighting of traditional lamps by the two mayors who were also given the traditional welcome of shawls.
Before the celebrations began with the traditional Ganesh vandana, Dr Lucky Lakshamanan, who is the president of the Sringeri temple, welcomed John Tory and Linda Jeffrey in joining the celebrations.
Dr Lakshmanan recalled the journey of the Indo-Canadian community since the 1980s by narrating an anecdote from their first-ever Diwali celebrations with the then Toronto mayor Barbara Hall in 1986.
“When we celebrated the first-ever Diwali with Barbara Hall in 1986, she congratulated us, saying: `you have travelled from Gerrard India Bazaar to this place…,’’ said Dr Lakshmanan.
“And look how far we have travelled. We just celebrated our first-ever Diwali at Toronto city hall this week and today we have the two mayors with us. The Indo-Canadian community has come a long way in Canada.’’
Dr Lakshamanan, who is also a known clean-energy scientist, added, “At Sringeri, we have not only a spiritual centre, but also a community and cultural centre which serves our all communities by organizing health events, yoga classes and spiritual training.’’
In his remarks, Toronto mayor John Tory congratulated the Indo-Canadian community for enriching the city by their cultural traditions.
Diwali, he said, is a “celebration of life…a hopeful, optimistic celebration.’’ Thanks to it various communities, Tory said, “Toronto is more diverse city than anywhere else in the world.’’
Referring to this week’s massacre by fanatics in Paris, the Toronto mayor said celebrations of diversity, not hatred, is “our way of life.’’
About the first-ever Diwali celebrations held at Toronto city hall this week, the mayor said, “It is such a privilege to have such celebrations at city hall every month…celebrating the values of each other.’’
Mayor Tory thanked the Indo-Canadian community for creating such a “magnificent temple and community centre’’ in the city. “You contribute so much to making Toronto what it is today.’’
Mayor Linda Jeffrey also thanked the Indo-Canadian community for its contribution to Canada’s culture. “We appreciate everything you do. I love being here.’’
MPP Amrit Mangat called the celebrations and music performances at Sringeri unique. “This is something I have not seen anywhere else during Diwali celebrations,’’ said Mangat as she honoured the various artists – Narinder Datar, Raya Bidaye, Harsheel Lodhia, Kishore Kulkarni, Vinayak Hegde, Deepak Sant, Anuja Panditrao and Shivani Hegde.