Diwali is a 5 day fall festival beginning on the 15th day of the Hindu calendar month of Kartika (Ashwin). Diwali is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world! The festival, which coincides with the Hindu New Year, celebrates both new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. When is Diwali celebrated? By the Gregorian calendar, Diwali falls in October or November. In 2018, it will start November 7. In 2019, October 27. In 2020, November 14th. Teachers who would like to incorporate multicultural holidays in their classes have asked me fore easy ways to celebrate Diwali with kids. Here are 5 of the best ways to learn about the holiday, and how to celebrate Diwali with kids!
1. Read Stories about Diwali with Kids and Learn about the Holiday
We made this Diwali unit to teach kids in elementary school all about this popular Indian holiday. This unit includes a minibook, a reading passage, math practice, and a capital letter correction sheet. As teachers, we can use this “Story of Diwali” lesson to open our kids’ eyes to global holidays and also instill pride in children as we feature their heritage.
Diwali is celebrated during the new moon between October and November. In Northern India, Diwali is celebrated as the return of virtuous King Rama’s after 14 years of exile (around 5000 BCE) after he triumphed over Ravana in a classic good over evil story. In Western and Southern India, some celebrate Diwali as a tribute to Lord Krishna, who defeated the maleficent Narkasura. Many Indians believe the lights used in the festival will invite Lakshmi Pooja (goddess of fortune and wealth) to bring them prosperity, especially farmers at the end of their harvest season.
The main idea is that good is overcoming evil, light conquers darkness. Read about the significance and watch kid-friendly videos here.
2. Decorate with Lights for Diwali
The name Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps,” because during the festivities people light up their homes with small earthenware oil lamps called diyas or diwas. It is easy to make your own diyas with clay and some decorations.
3. Make a Rangoli for Diwali with Kids
Create a stunning rangoli (see here for instructions)! Rangoli art from India, is a folk art used during Hindu festivals to bring good luck and welcome the Hindu deities. The artwork is both a religious and cultural symbol, and is found in all homes regardless of income. The details in rangoli decorations can include lotus flowers, mango leaves, geometric shapes, or other elaborate designs made of rice flour, colored sand, or even flower petals. Read all about rangoli here.
4. Enjoy Indian Sweets for Diwali
Try these really easy doodh peda with milk powder and sweetened condensed milk.
Kheer is an Indian rice pudding that kids love! Try the recipe here.
5. Create Diwali Crafts for Kids
Like we said above, it is easy to make a diya! Here are some other beautiful Diwali crafts:
Decorate a thali plate! Thali (Hindi: थाली) means plate in Hindi, and refers to the round steel tray used to carry little bowls of food. Learn about the traditions, and then make your own!
I hope these 5 ideas help you celebrate Diwali with kids in your class or your home! Crafts, food, decorations, and learning about the meaning of Diwali are simple, concrete ways that kids can begin to appreciate different world celebrations. Multicultural lessons like these bring our kids closer to understand cultures around the world- and even their neighbors and friends of their communities. How do you celebrate Diwali with kids? What else can I add?