What is Diwali? - India's Festival of Lights

Nov 08, 2020

Diwali is this week.  Many of you may wonder, what is Diwali?

Diwali is India’s Festival of Lights where we celebrate victories of good over evil, light shining over darkness, knowledge over ignorance....a new beginning for us all. 

The details and activities were shared in my daughters' public and private schools when I taught the class children. 

Some quick facts about Diwali:

  • Diwali is a total of 5 days- and the big day is Saturday Nov 14th (reflected in Day 3). 
  • Every year the specific date changes (e.g. like Easter OR Hanukkah) based on the lunar calendar- but always falls in October or November. 
  • The cultural significance of Diwali is celebrated around the world!  It is a Hindu holiday that celebrates the victory of Lord Ram when he defeated an evil demon king Ravan. That victory of good over evil restored goodness in the world.
  • Diwali is celebrated differently all over India and each day is meaningful. 
  • Diwali is also celebrated differently around the world but there is one thing in common- it’s all about being a community celebration!  "Let us all unite together."- Shyla

Day 1- Dhanteras- An opportunity to clean your house and pack things you don’t need.  It is a time to give to others who don’t have- sharing is caring!  As it does symbolize a new beginning, we go shopping to buy a new outfit for this special time of year.

Day 2- Choti Diwali...The day before Diwali- get the house ready with decorations and make a rangoli (colorful pattern).  We make a rangoli outside our home (generally on the floor- pictured below) to welcome all our family and friends. We use a lot of colors to show that while each color is special, they are beautiful united together.  We can use chalk, flowers, colored powder. 

If you do not have any of these- you can make a rangoli on a paper plate with crayons, markers, OR foam stickers and hang it up!  Here are some examples from the school children.

It is also a festive time- music and dance.  We also dance two Indian dances called- garba and dandiya all night! 

Day 3- Happy Diwali! The Big Day!  Let's all treasure the life lessons and memories from the last year for a bright new start of goodness all around.  Light a diya (candle) to see the world through that light to shine over darkness for a new beginning and a brighter tomorrow.  Let's pray for health, prosperity, love, and ask for our inner light to shine bright.  Wear new clothes and celebrate with the community- light some sparklers outside.

Day 4- Sal Mubarak- The New Beginning- It's a new year so share sweets with those you love and your community, because everyday should be as sweet as the treats you eat!  If you can- send your prayers to the sky with lighting sparklers outside- well wishes to come your way.

Day 5- Sibling Love- We all have brothers, sisters, or cousins-- tell them you appreciate them and will always be there for them.

I challenge all of us to be open to learn more about each others cultures— it can be so much fun and truly an experience for our children to become #globalcitizens . Remember- a better tomorrow starts with today.  


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