What is Diwali – Festival of Lights?
Diwali, is a five day ‘Festival of Lights’ celebrated each year by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains in India and across the world.
The festival links to many different texts. The most popular is that of the tale of the Hindu God Lord Rama. Lord Rama returned to his Kingdom after 14 years in exile to defeat the demon King Ravana. It is also linked to Lakshmi, who is the goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. All variations of the festival are associated with the same symbolic meaning; the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. The word ‘Diwali’ comes from the word ‘deepavali’ meaning ‘row of lighted lamps’. People put these lamps or ‘diyas’ outside their homes to symbolise the inner light that protects from darkness. During the five day festival shops, homes, temples, office buildings and schools are all brightly decorated. The festival is always celebrated sometime between October and November – changing every year. This year (2019) it is being celebrated on Sunday, 27th October.
Why We Should Celebrate Diwali Every Year!
Early years services bring people from many different backgrounds and cultures together. Encouraging children to celebrate many different religions and cultures fosters a diverse community. Helping young children to understand religious (or non religious) festivals acknowledges the beliefs and culture of individual children. Diwali is a very important festival for many people and early years services should embrace this celebration. There are many ways in which we can celebrate Diwali in the class. Making your classroom bright and colourful are two great ways to get Diwali ready! You could also invite any parents of children celebrating Diwali to come in to tell a story or bring some traditional items or food to see and try. They could also demonstrate how to make some of the typical Diwali crafts. You could use your Friends Together Journal to document the children’s artwork and observations as a group. Below are some craft ideas that you can use with the children to bring some light to your class for the Diwali Festival!
Diwali Craft Ideas to bring some light to your classroom!
Diwali Crafts: Paper Plate Rangoli Patterns
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. For this activity you will only need some 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.
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. Use battery operated tea lights to insert into each one and make your room glow!