Happy Diwali

Throwback Thursday!

#TBT alert! This post has been updated, but was originally published October 24, 2014.

WORLD

Diwali has become a national festival that is enjoyed by most Indians regardless of faith: Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs. (National Geographic Kids)

Use our resources, including a video and photo gallery, to learn more about Diwali!

Teachers, scroll all the way down for a short list of key resources in our “Teachers’ Toolkit.”

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, now a secular celebration enjoyed by all Indians—including Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs. Diwali includes decorative displays of flowers, lamps, and even fireworks—like this show lighting up the city of Bangalore. Photograph by Ram Reddy, courtesy Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights, now a secular celebration enjoyed by all Indians—including Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs. Diwali includes decorative displays of flowers, lamps, and even fireworks—like this show lighting up the city of Bangalore.
Photograph by Ram Reddy, courtesy Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Discussion Ideas

  • Read our terrific study guide on Diwali. The article says Diwali originated as a harvest festival. Many harvest festivals occur in autumn, as the weather begins to turn cold. Why would people celebrate the end of the harvest season, and why would they do so with a “festival of lights”?
    • People celebrate the end of a harvest for two major reasons, both tied to agriculture. In ancient agricultural societies, the end of the season traditionally meant less need for the backbreaking work of harvesting crops. (Read more about how hard harvesting is!) If the harvest was successful, the end of the season also meant the community had abundant food for the winter. Less work, more food—those are both good reasons to celebrate!
    • A festival of lights is perfectly timed as autumn turns to winter. Days start getting shorter and nights start getting longer as the winter solstice approaches. Learn more about seasonal changes in light exposure with this illustration.

 

  • Can you think of any other autumn harvest festivals?
    • Thanksgiving is probably the most familiar. Read more about Thanksgiving in the U.S. here.
    • Mehregan is a Persian festival associated with the end of the harvest and financial seasons—just like Diwali.
    • The Mid-Autumn Festival is considered “intangible cultural heritage” in China, and is also celebrated in Vietnam.
    • Oktoberfest is a harvest festival associated with the autumn grain harvest in Germany.
    • Sukkot is a Jewish festival associated with the autumn harvest.
    • Samhain is an ancient Celtic celebration of the end of the autumn harvest season.
    • Chuseok is a three-day harvest festival celebrated in the Koreas.
    • Onam is another Indian harvest festival, this one celebrated largely by the people in the state of Kerala, honoring the traditional end of the rice harvest.
    • Crop Over is a little-known festival on Barbados tracing its roots to the sugar cane harvest, and I love the name: direct and to-the-point! Read more about Crop Over here.

 

  • Can you think of any other autumn or winter “festivals of light”?
    • Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of light, is probably the most familiar.
    • Christmas is often associated with bright lights.
    • Tazaungdaing is an ancient Buddhist festival that is a national holiday in Burma (Myanmar).

 

  • How can you celebrate Diwali in your home or school? (No fireworks allowed!)
Do some lamp-lighting! According to Nat Geo Kids, "The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (or deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness." Photograph by peddhapati, courtesy Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

Do some lamp-lighting! According to Nat Geo Kids, “The festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (or deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects us from spiritual darkness.”
Photograph by peddhapati, courtesy Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

Enjoy some Indian treats—Diwali is sometimes nicknamed the "Festival of Sweets"! Click here for some mouthwatering ideas! Photograph by Alpha, courtesy Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Enjoy some Indian treats—Diwali is sometimes nicknamed the “Festival of Sweets”! Click here for some mouthwatering ideas!
Photograph by Alpha, courtesy Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Create some rangoli art! Rangoli is an Indian folk art in which artists create designs on the floor or street by arranging colored powder. You can also use colored chalk, colored flour, colored rice, or colored sand. Photograph by Jodi Cobb, National Geographic

Create some rangoli art! Rangoli is an Indian folk art in which artists create designs on the floor or street by arranging colored powder. You can also use colored chalk, flour, rice, sawdust, or sand.
Photograph by Jodi Cobb, National Geographic

Many artists create rangoli using flower petals. This design was created with chalk and marigold petals. Photograph by Adityamadhav83, courtesy Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Many artists create rangoli using flower petals. This design was created with chalk and marigold petals.
Photograph by Adityamadhav83, courtesy Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Artists in Kerala create beautiful designs called "pookalam" using fragrant, fresh flower petals. Although pookalam are often associated with the Onam harvest festival, they are also created for Diwali. Photograph by Aruna, courtesy Wikimedia. (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Artists in Kerala create beautiful designs called “pookalam” using fragrant, fresh flower petals. Although pookalam are often associated with the Onam harvest festival, they are also created for Diwali.
Photograph by Aruna, courtesy Wikimedia. (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

This delicious floral rangoli uses fresh fruit! Photograph by Thangaraj Kumaravel, courtesy Wikimedia. (CC-BY-2.0)

This delicious floral rangoli uses fresh fruit!
Photograph by Thangaraj Kumaravel, courtesy Wikimedia. (CC-BY-2.0)

 

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: Happy Diwali!

Nat Geo: Diwali—Festival of Light

4 responses to “Happy Diwali

  1. Amazing!!! I like this website so much it’s really awesome.I have also gone through your other posts too and they are also very much appreciate able and I’m just waiting for your next update to come as I like all your posts… well I have also made an article hope you go through it.

  2. Pingback: Poem / Poetry – “A Cosmic Pillar” | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)·

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