Shining some light on the best ways to celebrate Diwali in your school
October has a lot to answer for. The official end of British Summertime, the enveloping darkness that descends in time for tea; the unmistakable chill in the air; the plethora of germs swarming around, just waiting to make a home in your nostrils; the shoddily-dressed Halloween trick-or-treaters mugging you for chocolate; all those crisply handsome fallen September leaves turning slowly into slush. But this year, there’s one feature of October that makes up for all of its disappointments, and that is Diwali, the Festival of Lights.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, and it’s a contender for the most glorious festival going. What’s not to like about a celebration dedicated to that most precious and spectacular phenomenon that is light? From fireworks to lamps to lanterns, Diwali brings awe, joy and a warm feeling of goodwill. Based on the legend of Lord Rama returning with his wife Sita to their home after vanquishing the Demon King, Diwali is a story of good triumphing over evil. It’s a chance to acknowledge the things that we do that make us good people. So you could have your students write down a good thing about themselves or each other, to remind them to be part of the good in the world.
Music, food and performance are all hugely important parts of Diwali celebrations, and, while you’re unlikely to get the go-ahead to have a Diwali-worthy firework display in your school (seriously – Indians spend £600 million on fireworks during Diwali), you could have a day of decorations, and encourage the bringing in of bright (non flammable!) items like LED candles. Or host a mela, where your students can bring goods to swap or sell for charity. Give your students a taste of Diwali’s many sweets – being mindful of those with allergies, of course.
Diwali also honours a number of gods and goddesses, most notably Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Have your students create a shine to Lakshmi, which they’ll present to the class, explaining the significance of the different parts of the shrine. The winning group get a bag or two of chocolate money. Gambling is also traditionally approved of as part of Diwali celebrations – so go ahead and have a game of snap, maybe for traditional sweets for the winner. Not got the time to create resources?
Here's a Diwali resource pack for with a PowerPoint, game templates, differentiated activities and a quiz.
Whatever you do to honour this great and much-needed festival of lights, enjoy it. As the days darken, it’s a great excuse to remind ourselves of the persistence of hope and light.