Here in America, we often get requests from our kids’ elementary school teachers to do a presentation on Diwali for the kids in their class. And our elementary-school-going kids love it. We go to their school equipped not only with lot of information on Diwali (all done up in the form of a power-point presentation), but also with Diwali sweets, ‘diyas’ (little lamps), pictures of Ganesh & Lakshmi and some hands-on activities like painting the ‘diyas’ and coloring the ‘rangolis’ (floor art). Our kids are enthusiastic about the event and we’re happy to do it!
So we decided to do this most important festival of India, in an educational format. Yes, this is from an actual power-point presentation shared with American students in an elementary school. And yes, they loved it and so did the teacher!
What is Diwali?
Diwali is one of the most important festival in India.
It is celebrated sometime during Fall- it does not have a fixed date, but the date is based on the Hindu calendar.
The name “Diwali” comes from a Sanskrit word, Deepavali” which means “row of lamps”.
How is Diwali celebrated?
It is celebrated over 5 days – each day has its’ own significance. Day 3 is the actual Diwali.
Preparations for Diwali starts days before the festival. People thoroughly clean their house (something like Spring cleaning here) in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome who is believed to visit on Diwali (like Santa Clause does on Christmas).
People wear new clothes and exchange sweets, snacks and gifts with family, friends and business associates (like Christmas here).
People light small clay lamps called “diyas”, filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. All homes and businesses are lit up with colorful lights and there’s festivities everywhere (like Christmas here).
People burst firecrackers everywhere on the streets all over the cities (like July 4th here).
People pray to Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, for Health, Wealth and Prosperity.
The fifth day is called the Bhai Dooj, it is a “Brother – Sister” day.
Why is Diwali celebrated?
Diwali has many significances in India-
It marks the day when Lord Ram returned from his banishment.
It celebrates the Good over Evil.
Diwali marks the end of the harvest season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by (like Thanks Giving here), and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses also. Lakshmi symbolizes wealth and prosperity, and people ask for her blessings for a good year ahead.
What is Rangoli?
Rangoli is a floor art.
People draw Rangolis at the entrance of their house during Diwali as a sign of welcome or to welcome Goddess Lakshmi.
These are images and motifs drawn on the floor The Rangoli designs are passed down through generations, with some of them being hundreds of years old. The designs are geometric and proportioned.
These are made with finger using rice powder, crushed lime stone, or colored chalk. They may be topped with grains, pulses, beads, or flowers.
Again, Wish You All A Very Happy and Prosperous Diwali!