- Almost eight in ten say Diwali is about being close to loved ones
- But as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Canada, most (83%) worry it just won’t be the same without seeing certain family and friends
- Yet 72% of people are determined to show even more love in 2020 by sending money and gifts online (47%)
The festival of lights will look a little different this year. According to research by global digital payments company WorldRemit, 40% of the South Asian community in Canada were hoping to travel abroad to visit family and friends this weekend, but concerns about contracting or spreading COVID-19 (67%) and respect for travel restrictions (64%) have forced them to look a little closer to home for their 2020 Diwali celebrations.
Family comes first
The five-day festival is celebrated by faiths throughout the South Asian community, approximately eight in ten (76%) of whom say for them the holiday is all about being close to the ones you love. Almost half (49%) say that seeing friends and family is their favorite thing about the celebration; not even the food (43%), the religious meaning (38%), and giving presents (27%) beats spending quality time with their nearest and dearest.
Diwali is traditionally a time of coming together, and often that means travelling great distances. Four in five people (80%) have travelled abroad to see family and friends for Diwali at least once, with almost a quarter (24%) doing so every year, and slightly more (28%) doing so most years. After a year of restrictions, 40% of people were still hoping to travel abroad for Diwali as recently as last month, with 19% of them already having tickets booked.
About four in five people (83%) are now worried Diwali just won’t be the same without seeing certain family and friends. In fact, 72% are determined to show friends and family even more love this year as a result of the current situation, with 67% believing that Diwali holds particular significance in 2020 as people search for meaning and new ways to connect.
Corey Myckan, Country Director and Head of North America Growth at WorldRemit said: “The festival of lights has always held a special significance for the South Asian community living in the U.S. It arrives so soon after the clocks change and the dark nights start to roll in, bringing light, music, and a renewed sense of community for well over a million people across the country. This year, that desire to light up the darkness is burning brighter than ever, and while people can’t travel to see friends and family, I’m sure that people will be finding creative ways to celebrate.”
Diwali goes digital
The majority (73%) of those celebrating in Canada will be trying to make the religious holiday as normal as possible, and almost half (47%) plan to use a remittance service such as WorldRemit to either send gifts digitally, or to help family or friends to buy gifts and sweets for others (28%).
Slightly more than a quarter (27%) of those sending money overseas this weekend will be sending more than they usually would, with many people saying this is predominantly because the pandemic has financially impacted their family and friends around the world (45%). Almost a third (32%) of all respondents explained that they are now supporting a larger number of people as a direct result of COVID-19.
Ruzan Ahamad, Country Director, South Asia at WorldRemit added: “It’s been such a challenging year for all of us, so it’s heartening to hear that almost half of the nearly million or so people sending money to loved ones this Diwali will be increasing the amount they send this year to help those who might be impacted by the pandemic.”