More than $840,000 raised to benefit
health centre’s endoscopy suites
By Sharon Airhart
On this first day of Diwali, when the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, is worshipped and people often indulge in shopping sprees, I’m remembering the visions of India that greeted guests of Trillium Health Centre when the hospital’s Foundation – our client — held its 10th annual Diwali gala.
Arriving at the transformed International Centre, guests were offered traditional Indian sweets and ushered into a foyer where traditional classical dancers performed around life-sized floral elephants to the sounds of dhol drummers.
In fact, the whole magical evening was about the sights and sounds and tastes of India. It was about street vendors, colourful South Asian dress, meeting old friends and music and dancing. But, mostly, it was about giving.
Diwali is the five-day festival of lights that symbolizes the victory of good over evil. It is celebrated by lighting lamps, visiting friends and relatives, buying and wearing new clothes, decorating the home and making special meals, all in the hope of bringing happiness and prosperity in the coming year. It is traditional, among many South Asians, to share their good fortune and to honour those they love at Diwali.
And that is exactly what the 950 guests and sponsors of the gala did – more than $840,000 was raised. Proceeds from the event will benefit Trillium’s endoscopy suites – the busiest in Ontario with 12,000 procedures a year – which diagnose and treat patients with a range of health concerns from colon cancer to Crohn’s disease.
At the event, Mayor Hazel McCallion said that Mississauga’s large South Asian population contributes much to its community life and culture, demonstrating that life can be colourful and beautiful. “You are a caring and generous people,” she said, thanking them “on behalf of all of the people who enter the doors of Trillium Health Centre for top notch medical care.”
In fact, the Diwali fundraising gala, which has raised nearly $5 million in its 10-year history, was the brainchild of Mississauga’s South Asian community which brought Trillium a plan to host the Diwali event. It’s the largest celebration of its kind in Canada.
Amongst all of the beauty, music, food – the food! – what stood out that night was the joyful mood as people from what must have been dozens of countries, cultures and religions came together to celebrate, proving that you don’t have to be South Asian to enjoy the blessings of Diwali. You just have to be generous.