I hope you will save November 4 for that very special Hindu festival, Diwali. For people new to Indian culture and Hinduism, might I suggest that you take the free tour offered by that beautiful temple. It’s the one that you can see from Highway 427 just north of Finch. Yes, you can visit it that day in all its festive glory. You can also visit it any other day, but without the icing on the cake.
Diwali is the Festival of Lights. It marks the conquest of evil and ignorance. It celebrates Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. You will find rows of little lamps helping the gods find their way to homes, stores, and temples. People worship at their temple. They wear new clothes and feast.
English-speaking guides can take you through BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir temple and explain various aspects of its stunning architecture, the Hindu religion, and Diwali. They will answer your questions. You will see over 1,000 vegetarian dishes offered to its founder Bhagawan and to the many manifestations of the Hindu deity. You will hear sacred music and afterwards have an opportunity to buy some Indian snacks. But you won’t be allowed to take pictures. It is a very religious event.
You can also visit other Hindu temples in Toronto during the five-day festival. These others will not be as organized nor are they as apparently welcoming as the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Nor will they segregate men from women like BAPS does. But you can still watch the ceremonies, ask questions, and enjoy the fireworks.
Each Hindu temple seems to be different. My friend Vikash Jain told me about the Hindu Sabha Mandir in Brampton. Its festival is more crowded. It will make you feel like you are in India.
His own temple is the Chinmaya Vedanta Heritage Centre with its emphasis on enquiry. Its festival will be quiet, but will have fireworks too.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is at 61 Claireville Drive, Toronto. Tel: 416-798-2277. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Write to:
email@example.com for tour application form. http://toronto.baps.org/introduction.php has more information about the temple.
For our report on the 2012 Diwali festival at BAPS, see: https://www.torontomulticulturalcalendar.com/2012/11/18/327-diwali-festival-at-baps-hindu-temple-a-report/
The Vishnu Mandir is at 8640 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill. It is north of Highway 407. Tel. 905-886-1724. http://www.vishnumandir.com/index.php . For our reports on Diwali at the Vishnu Mandir: https://www.torontomulticulturalcalendar.com/2011/01/17/46-vishnu-mandir-again/ and https://www.torontomulticulturalcalendar.com/2010/11/09/vishnu-mandir-temple-4/