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. 


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