How to incorporate the celebration of Diwali into a western classroom

Diwali, the "Festival of Lights" is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs in India, across South Asia, and the rest of the world to mark the beginning of the Hindu New Year. Diwali is celebrated on the 15th day of the Hindu calendar month of “Kartika,” and this year it falls on October 19th. With millions of clay lamps lighting the environment, Diwali symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.

Because of its attractive looks, Diwali is increasingly celebrated all over the world, but sometimes this is done in a non-respectful manner without paying enough respect to its traditions besides the decorations. Here are five ways to incorporate Diwali celebration into a western classroom in a wholesome way.

Study the Diwali Toolkit

Is very easy to fall in love with Diwali and get the urge to incorporate it into your classroom just based on its' looks, but Diwali is so much more than decorations! It is especially important to try to get to know the deeper meaning of this holiday if you have Hindu, Jain, or Sikh students in your class.

This useful toolkit was made to educate parents and teachers about the deeper origins of Diwali, as well as to prevent misinterpretations and misconceptions about the holiday.

Decorate the Classroom with Lights (as a beginning point) 

Light decorations are an essential part of Diwali celebration. LED candles, small clay lamps, strings of bulb paper lights, they can all become a part of your Diwali classroom decorations during the five days of the celebration.

Lights can also be interpreted in a symbolic matter. Talk about metaphors considering lights. You can ask the students what their associations to the phrases such as "you're my shining light" or "you are my sunshine" are. 

Make a play based on Rama and Sita Legend

Rama and Sita's legend is a centerpiece of Diwali celebration. It is a very lively and imaginative story, featuring exciting characters such as the Monkey King. Therefore it is perfect for creating a school play. On the days leading up to the premiere, you could create simple costumes based on colorful paper and cloths.

Organize a Mela

During the holiday, villages in India organize melas - traditional street fairs where locals sell food and handmade products. In a class setting, you could organize a school mela, featuring artwork made by students. Instead of giving money for goods, students could exchange them. You can look online for pictures of traditional Hindu scripts and scrolls for inspiration.

Bhai Bhij

The fifth day of Diwali is known as Bhai Bhij. It is a celebration of siblings, and on this day brothers and sisters exchange gifts and celebrate their relationships.

Of course, in a class setting, you should be mindful of all those students who don't have siblings, so the emphasis should be on cousins, friends, and family trees. All children have their best friend, and you can use the stories of them to celebrate love for one's loved ones.

Looking for a low prep option this Diwali? Why not check out my Diwali Celebration Study? Students love this resources and learn so much about Diwali from it. 


A short history of Constitution Day for teachers

Constitution Day is celebrated every September 17th to mark and honor the date that the US Constitution was first signed back in 1787, as well as citizen's rights and obligations related to this important document.

To understand the history and the importance of Constitution Day, we should briefly look into the Constitution itself.

Brief Look at History of US Constitution

The Constitution is probably the most important document in the US history. The Constitution first defined the USA in the regulatory sense and made the union a functional, united country.

On July 4, 1776, the founding fathers of the United States signed the Declaration of Independence, which ended the country's colonial status. However, it wasn't until September 17th, 1787 that a true government was formed, turning 13 former British colonies into a unified country. That happened by the act of signing the Constitution.

It could be said that while the Fourth of July represents the birthday of the American nation, September 17th is the birthday of the American government. That is why Constitution Day, which is celebrated every year on September 17th, is such an important holiday.

Short History of Constitution Day

Contrary to its importance, Constitution Day is quite a novel national holiday.

Constitution Day evolved from the so-called ''I Am An American Day'' which was celebrated since May 1940. The goal of this day was to create an opportunity for all those who had become American citizens through the coming-of-age or naturalization process to celebrate their belonging to the American nation.

In 1952, the event was moved to September 17th, correlating it with the signing of Constitution. The name of the holiday was changed to "Citizenship Day". The essence of the holiday remained the same as with the "I Am An American Day", except that there was some more emphasis on citizens, their rights and obligations as a part of the American Republic.

In 1997,  Louise Leigh founded a nonprofit organization called Constitution Day, Inc. to help support recognition of the importance of the holiday, as well as to emphasize the value and greatness of the Constitution itself.

Finally, in 2004. West Virginia senator Robert Byrd prompted that ''Citizenship Day'' should be changed to ''Constitution Day and Citizenship Day''. The former "Citizenship Day" was primarily focused on new American citizens, but Byrd reasoned that every established American citizen should also celebrate the most important legal document of the United States of America. In May 2005, the United States Department of Education backed the Byrd's amendment that was going to apply the holiday in all schools that were receiving federal funds of any kind. Since then, Constitution Day has a special place in the US public education system. The tradition of honoring the Constitution continues.

Looking for a low prep option this Constitution Day? Why not check out my Constitution Day Celebration Study? Students love this resources and learn so much about Constitution Day from it.