Recently the children and teachers celebrated Diwali at preschool. We began our week of Diwali celebrations on the 5th of November, by introducing the children to the Diwali (Ready to Read) book, which follows a young girl as she celebrates Diwali.
The children learnt that there are five days of celebration. Rangoli patterns (usually done on the first day) are used to welcome friends and family to the house, and sweets are made to share. The third day is the Diwali Festival of Lights. This is where Diya (Hindi) or Diva (more than one, Gujarati), Devo (one, Gujarati) clay lamps are lit in the evening and placed around the house. Fireworks are set off. The fourth day is New Years Day and on this day you wear new clothes. And the last day is Bhai Beej (Gujarati), a special day for brothers and sisters where sisters invite their brothers for a meal.
On Monday Navya (Koru class) shared with us how she cleans and decorates her house before Diwali. So the children in Koru class dusted the shelves. Thanks to Ashwini (Kowhai lead teacher) we had Diwali arts and crafts to make decorations, Diya and Rangoli patterns and elephants to colour in and hang around the classrooms.
On Wednesday all the teachers dressed in traditional Indian outfits. In Koru class the children who celebrate Diwali shared with the class what they do. Alisha shared Kharkharya (a sweet deep fried pastry) and Navya shared a coconut sweet. Teresa set up a flower rangoli pattern-making activity in Kowhai class. The book told us of the girl’s favourite part of Diwali, the story she was told at Sunday school, where Ram saves his wife Sita from Ravan the evil king. And on this day the villagers of Ayodhya (Ram’s village) lit diya (clay lamps) to welcome and light his way home. So, I explained to the children how Diwali is celebrated on the darkest day of the month in India, so there is no moon and not many stars in the night sky, and no electricity to give light. That’s why the villagers lit diya.
We all enjoyed learning more about Diwali and sharing and celebrating this important festival together. Happy Diwali.