Diwali is the Hindu ‘festival of lights’. In 2021 it is celebrated on Thursday 4th November – the date changes each year because the Hindu calendar is based on the Moon. Find out all about Diwali and then have lots of fun joining in with these children’s activities and crafts.
What is Diwali?
BBC Bitesize is the best place to start if you don’t know anything about Diwali yet. It gives a wonderful overview of the festival and how it is celebrated. We also like 5 days of Diwali Celebration in 5 minutes.
After sharing these videos help your child to find India on the map, then watch some real-life celebrations showing the festival of lights in full colour. We like this National Geographic film: Diwali – The Festival of Lights.
The Diwali story for children
The Diwali story is the story of Rama and Sita. Diwali is the day Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana returned home after defeating the evil demon king, Ravana.
There are plenty of videos online of the story of Rama and Sita for children, but we also recommend sharing Rama and Sita: The Story of Diwali by Malachy Doyle and Christopher Corr. The vibrant illustrations really draw children into the story so they are always wondering what will happen next!
Diwali children’s activities
Rangoli patterns are intricate, colourful patterns made on the ground outside people’s houses to welcome in the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali. The Goddess Lakshmi is said to bring good luck.
Your child could colour ready-drawn Rangoli patterns (there are plenty available online) or they could design their own patterns. If they would like to create their own Rangolis, it is a good idea to spend some time looking at examples online for inspiration. They could draw their own patterns on paper, paper plates or black paper, and then colour them with paints, pens or chalk.
Diya (or ‘diva’) lamps
On Diwali people light lots of small diya lamps around and outside their home to welcome in the Goddess Lakshmi. Diyas are also lit to remember how Rama and Sita were welcomed home by the villagers in the story. The light symbolizes the triumph of good over evil – a symbol that is shared across religions.
Diyas can be made from air drying clay or salt dough. Fashion the clay into a small holder for a tea light. When the clay is dry decorate it with paints and eco-friendly glitter, and stars and sequins if you like. For ideas type ‘diva lamps children’ into Google Images.
Place a tealight in the diya lamp and light it after dark. You can buy child-friendly tealights for a reasonable price online.
People set off fireworks to celebrate the festival of lights, so your child could make a firework painting. We like fork paintings because they are easy and effective.
You need a fork, paper, and ready-mix paint in red, blue, yellow, white and black (your child can mix all colours and shades from just these).
Type ‘firework craft with fork’ into Google Images to see examples. Your child could sprinkle the wet paint with eco-friendly glitter for a sparkling finish.
As your child paints ask them why they think Hindu’s celebrate Diwali with fireworks. Can your child talk about their experiences of firework displays? How do they feel when they watch a firework display?
Just like Christmas, Diwali means treats! Here’s a really simple recipe for Diwali sweets.
You will need ½ can condensed milk, 500g dried dates, 125g ground almonds and 25g desiccated coconut.
Put all the ingredients – except the desiccated coconut – into a saucepan. Stir continuously on a low heat until the mixture forms a soft ball (this could take some time, so patience is needed!). Leave the mixture in the pan to cool.
Once cool, roll the mixture into sweet-sized balls (like gobstoppers). Roll each ball around on a plate sprinkled with desiccated coconut until it is completely covered.
Put the sweets on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and leave in the fridge to set.
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