Get schooled on Diwali!

The great thing about America is that it is a melting pot for different cultures. But how do we keep our culture alive within that pot? Education!


This year, I went to my kid's school to educate her and her classmates about Diwali. Check out the post below for what we did and for ideas on how to bring Diwali into your own nearby schools!


 

First up, read a story about Diwali to the kids. You can find one at your local library. We also have a story we made about Diwali on our main website. Otherwise, you can show this short youtube video to the class:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x-k5cPTtSA


 

Now that the kids have a basic understanding of Diwali, you can get more detailed. In order to make this more fun/interactive, we made a poster board depicting the 5 days of Diwali. Check out the photos below for a visual guide on how to do this.


Check out below for a basic transcript of what you can say to the kids;

Diwali is celebrated across India and various regions have their own spin and traditions associated with the festival. Today we are going to learn about the basic meaning behind Diwali.



1. Dhanteras. Dhanteras is a celebration of wealth, and on this day we celebrate the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. Wealth does not have to be just money; we are lucky to have many things in our lives including good friends, healthy bodies and warm food--all of this counts as wealth.


Ask the kids the following questions;

What wealth are you grateful for? What wealth are you lucky to have? Have each kid write their answer on a post it note and tape each note onto the red square.


2. Kali Chaudas. Kali Chaudas is also known as Narak Chaturdashi. On this day we celebrate the Goddess of strength, Kali Mata and the victory of Good over Evil. There are many stories of how Good is victorious that people tie back to this day.


Ask the kids the following question:

What is one thing that you can work on? This can be a quality you want to improve OR anything you want to do better.


Have each kid write their answer on a post it note and tape each note onto the orange square.


3. Diwali. This is the day God Rama returned home victorious over Ravana, a demon. It is said that people celebrated in the streets out of happiness. Lights adorned the houses and music and joy was heard into the night. This is actually the darkest day of the month because it always falls on the new moon, but families light divos, or lamps to bring in the light.


Ask the kids the following question:

Lamps have a lot of qualities, they bring light, warmth, color, movement to the world. What do you like about lamps?


Have each kid write their answer on a post it note and tape each note onto the yellow square.


4. New Years. On this day, people celebrate the new year by wearing new clothes, geting together at temples in the mornings and meeting family and friends. This day is really about being grateful for the blessings you received in the past year and thinking about what Good you can accomplish in the coming year. This day is also known as Bali pratipada and Govardhan puja.


Ask the kids the following question:

On New Years, we reflect on the past and look to the future. What do you hope to learn this year in school?


Have each kid write their answer on a post it note and tape each note onto the green square.


5. Bhai Bij. This is a celebration of brothers and sisters and the bond between siblings. Traditionally, sisters invite their brothers to their homes and they celebrate together. Even if you don’t have a sibling , this can be a day to remember to love and respect your classmates and friends.


Ask the kids the following question:

What is one quality you really respect in your sibling? If you don’t have a sibling, then name a quality you respect in a friend.


Have each kid write their answer on a post it note and tape each note onto the purple square.



 

Last but not least, its craft time! Bring Diwali to life with this simple project:


  1. Buy enough tea lights and plastic CDs (you can find these on Amazon or at other stores) for all of the kids in the class.

  2. Glue the plastic CD onto the tea light (see the photo for some visual guidance. This will be a divo!

  3. With a piece of ribbon attach the following shlok to the divos. This shlok is a prayer to the Light:

ॐ शुभं करोति कल्याणं आरोग्यं धनसंपदः ।

शत्रुबुद्धिविनाशाय दीपज्योतिनमोऽस्तु ते ॥


"Shubham Karoti Kalyanam Arogyam Dhana Sampadah

Shatru Buddhi Vinashaya Deepa Jyoti Namostute


Meaning: "I fold my hands before the light that brings prosperity, auspiciousness,

good health, abundance of wealth and destruction of darkness (the enemy's

intellect)".

4. Give every kid a divo and allow them to decorate it however they want. You can use

stickers/chalk pen/construction paper/ etc.



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