Celebrate Diwali – Festival of Lights!
This year Diwali falls on Saturday, 14th November. Diwali is a five day festival and is celebrated each year by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains in India and across the world. Each year the Diwali Festival of Lights is celebrated in October or November, depending on the cycle of the moon. The word ‘Diwali’ comes from the word ‘deepavali’. This means a ‘row of lighted lamps’ and people who celebrate Diwali place lamps or ‘diyas’ outside their homes to symbolise the inner light that protects from the darkness. The festival is linked to different texts, but the most popular one is the tale of the Hindu God Lord Rama. The Hindu God Lord Rama spent 14 years in exile before returning to his Kingdom to defeat King Ravana. Diwali is also linked to Lakshmi. Lakshmi is the goddess of prosperity, fortune and wealth. The different meanings are all linked in that they share the same symbolic meaning – good will always win over evil (light over darkness). Over the period of the 5 day festival many shops, temples, office buildings, schools and homes are all brightly decorated.
Why should services celebrate Diwali?
There are many different background and cultures within every Early Years Service. Children should be encouraged to celebrate various cultures and different religions as this fosters a diverse community. Adults can help young children to understand more about religious or non religious festivals by providing them with information on the specific celebration, such as books, posters, stories, rhymes, songs and crafts. Acknowledging individual children’s beliefs and culture makes them feel part of their community and encourages other children to understand their culture. Diwali is a colourful festival and children will delight in taking part in celebrations. You can start by lighting up your classroom with lanterns or ‘diyas’. If there are children in your class who celebrate Diwali you could ask them to bring in some things that symbolise Diwali to them. We have included some great Diwali craft making ideas to get you in the Diwali spirit!
Light Up Your Classroom with some traditional Diwali Crafts!
Diwali Crafts: Paper Plate Rangoli Patterns
For this activity you will need paper plates, a pencil, kids scissors, colourful paper and glue. Using the coloured paper draw lots of small shapes to include circles, squares, triangles and rectangles. Ask the children to cut them all out using their scissors. Once cut out they can each take a paper plate and begin to stick the shapes onto the plate. See below video for some ideas of how the shapes look. This is also a great activity for helping children with their fine motor skills. Traditionally during Diwali bright ‘Rangoli Patterns’ are drawn on the floor near the front door to encourage the goddess Lakshmi into houses. They are drawn using rice, flour, sand or chalk. You could also try do these in your class. The different materials are great for introducing the children to various textures which is great for sensory development.
Diwali Crafts: Diyas or Candle Light Holder
The lighting of diyas forms part of the Diwali Festival of Lights celebration. This is an easy way to create beautiful little candle holders or diyas to decorate the classroom for your own Diwali celebrations. Give each child a small amount of salt dough or air drying clay and have them mould it into the shape of a small bowl. Tell the children to use their thumbs to press into the middle of their clay or dough and continue to do so until they are beginning to resemble small bowls. Once the shape has been formed you can bake (if it’s salt dough) or air dry if it’s clay. Once dried out, the children can paint and decorate using colourful paints, glitter, and beads etc. You can use battery operated tea lights to insert into each one. Place them around the room to resemble a Diwali – Festival of Lights!