Tarlochan Singh holds a tray of popular treats – jalebi – at Bengali Sweets in Etobicoke. Singh said they’ve spent days preparing for the influx of customers for Diwali. (Martin Trainor / CBC News)
Celebrations for Diwali — the five-day festival of light — will begin on Thursday across the GTA, and businesses are ready after weeks of preparation.
The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others around the world, both in family homes and temples of worship.
Show your love with a treat
It’s one of the most colourful festivals in Indian culture, partly due to the traditional sweets known as mithai.
“It’s an exchange of love and happiness,” Tarlochan Singh of Bengali Sweets told CBC Toronto.
The business, located near Islington Avenue and Albion Road in Etobicoke, added more space to fit hundreds of prepared treats. Customers are able to pick up a box and fill it up with different types of sweets for their friends and family.
Customers walk around Bengali Sweets filling a box with their favourite treats for friends and family. (Martin Trainor / CBC News)
“We celebrate Diwali while distributing sweets and having sweets. People might say, ‘Don’t eat too many sweets,’ but this is our tradition.” Singh said.
Some of the more popular treats are barfi, ladoo, cham cham, and gulab jamon.
Candles and fireworks
Homes are often decorated in colourful lights and candles, followed by an evening display of fireworks. The Amazing Party and Costume Store, located near Islington Avenue south of the Gardiner Expressway in Etobicoke, has been serving customers who celebrate Diwali for decades.
“It used to just be roman candles,” said Kurt Perron, the store manager. But things have certainly changed.
“Kids now are getting our $1,000 kits. The celebrations are getting bigger,” Perron said.
Perron notes that he has sold fireworks to customers who have grown up and had kids, and still come back to their store.
“They treat me like I’m a family member.” Perron said. “I get invited to the celebrations all the time at the temples and to their homes.”
In Brampton, where several celebrations will be taking place, Diwali is one of four approved annual holidays when short-range fireworks are allowed on private property without the need for a permit. The city still advises residents to ensure they’re safe during celebrations.
A new outfit
Ekta Kapoor runs Ethnic Collections by Ekta Hitesh Kapoor — a shop that sells traditional Indian clothing. Kapoor also has a location in Delhi, India, and says shopping is a big part of the tradition.
“It just makes everything more colourful when you choose a colourful outfit.” Kapoor said.
“This time is really busy; we have entire families coming in together to shop.”
Kapoor said red, turquoise and fuchsia pieces have been selling fast this year.
Poonam Kapur shops for Diwali every year. (Martin Trainor / CBC News)
Poonam Kapur, a new customer to the store, said she tries to get a new outfit for Diwali every year.
“It’s important to … dress up,” Kapur said. “I just love everything about Diwali.”
Ekta Kapoor runs Ethnic Collections By Ekta Hitesh Kapoor and says choosing a new outfit for Diwali is a yearly tradition for some families. (Martin Trainor / CBC News)
Prices for a sari or a lehenga choli range from $200 to $600, depending on how intricate the designs are.