Diwali: The Indian Festival of Lights

cover of The Story of Divaali

Image Courtesy of Nilesh Mistry, Barefoot Books

Each fall,¬†Diwali, the Festival of Lights celebrated by Hindus around the world. I have to admit, I don’t know much about this holiday. Last fall, Little Brother was invited to a playdate at the home of a friend who is part Indian. The friend’s father mentioned, “We’ll have some treats. You know, for the holidays.” My mind was racing to remember what occasion it was.

Now I know Diwali (sometimes spelled¬†Divaali) is India’s biggest festival, celebrated not only by Hindus, but also many Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. Basically, Diwali is a holiday on the same scale as Christmas in the western world, marked by decorating with small clay oil lamps, fireworks displays, and of course, many sweets and special meals.

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What is Diwali About?

I recently received a copy of  The Story of Divaali, retold by Jatinder Verma from Barefoot Books. This picture book for kids ages six to 11 tells the story behind the celebration: the Indian epic The Ramayana. The tale begins as Prince Rama is born by leaping from flames, and follows his challenges along with his brother Lakshmana, Princess Sita, and the Monkey God Hanuman. While it is a picture book, vividly illustrated by Nilesh Mistry, the story is quite long. Older school-aged children could read it on their own, but parents of younger kids would probably want to read it with them.

For a fun Diwali craft you can make with your kids, check out the directions for this lantern at In Culture Parent.

Do you celebrate Diwali? I’d love to hear about your traditions!



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