Residents across Waterloo Region are marking Diwali – the biggest festival of the year for South Asians. The occasion is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists all over the world.

Additionally, the festival often involves sweets being distributed, gift exchanges, prayers and fireworks.

By Monday afternoon, preparations for Diwali at the Radha Krishna Mandir and Cultural Centre in Cambridge, were well underway.

"Diwali is the festival of lights. It's to overcome darkness and we celebrate it every year,” explained Jean Persuad, vice president of the Radha Krishna Mandir and Cultural Centre.

"We have to thank each other. We have to bless each other and we come together for great unity,” said Rudra Upadhaya, the pandit at the mandir.

Persuad explained how the temple, which has been a part of the community for 32 years, will be celebrating the special occasion in the evening.

"We'll have puja (prayers) by pandit ji and we'll have kirtan bhajans (devotional songs) and at 8:30 we'll go out to the back and we do fireworks in the parking lot,” she said.

Despite Diwali coinciding with the municipal election this year, Persuad said the mandir is still expecting a big crowd. She suspects some people attending will have either voted during advance polls or gone earlier in the day.

"It's busy. We get lots and lots of people who come in. Our parking lot is usually full,” explained Persuad. “So this year I’m sure it's not going to be any different. I'm sure people will still show up in spite of the elections being today.”

Persuad hopes Canadians from all backgrounds will come to appreciate the now wide-spread holiday.

“I think more and more people are becoming accepting of what we do here,” she said.