Instilling in children an appreciation for diverse perspectives, traditions, and ways of life is of utmost significance as it nurtures their capacity to cultivate empathy and foster a profound respect for the rich tapestry of our global community. In this endeavor, we embark on a journey to explore the Diwali Festival of Lights. Diwali is a cultural celebration observed throughout India and around the world every fall. The event celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
During Diwali in India, houses and businesses are illuminated with different light sources, including lamps, oil lamps, and candles. Diwali celebrations look different across various regions of India. However it is often celebrated with families and friends by wearing new clothes, partaking in family feasts, enjoying delicious sweets, sharing gifts, and perhaps most importantly, setting off fireworks. The Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi, and Lord Ganesha are central to some celebrations of Diwali.
A Multi-Day Celebration
Diwali is not a single day. It is celebrated across several days. Here is a brief explanation of what might occur each day during the five-day festival:
Day 1: People clean their homes and shop for gold, silver, new clothes or kitchen utensils to help bring good fortune.
Day 2: People decorate their homes with clay lamps and create design patterns called rangoli on the floor using colored powders or sand.
Day 3: On the main day of the festival, families gather for prayers, followed by feasts and fireworks.
Day 4: This is the first day of the new year, when friends and family visit to offer gifts and best wishes for the season.
Day 5: Brothers visit their married sisters, who welcome them with love and a lavish meal.
If you want to learn more about Diwali and Indian cultures, you could experience the festivities close to home! There are a variety of Diwali celebrations in the Seattle area where you can explore Indian culture, learn art and dance techniques from India, and eat lots of traditional Indian food.
Here are a few places in Seattle:
Seattle Center Armory (12-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11; Free): This event features five hours of traditional dances put on by a host of dance studios, live classical violin ensemble, visual art galleries, a puppet show, spice making, face painting, and so much more.
Seattle Asian Art Museum (10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 4; Free): This event features a bilingual Diwali story time with puppets in Hindi and English. The first 25 families in attendance will receive a Diwali goodie bag. There will be live musical performances, artistic and cultural traditions presented, and a chance to drink warm chai tea while receiving a temporary henna tattoo design. There will also be a Bhangra dance workshop that is ideal for families with children of all ages.
Bellevue Square (12-5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 4; Free): Bellevue Square will feature live performances including dance, visual arts, and music. Complimentary henna designs will be available, as well as lantern kits for kids.
Burke Museum (11 a.m.-12 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 12; Free with admission to the museum): Burke Museum is partnering with Hindi Time Kids to teach visitors about the meaning and traditions of Diwali. Activities include clay diya painting and decorations, wooden diya stencils and diya foam stickers to make Diwali cards, story time for children in Hindi about Diwali, and Diwali food and sweets for tasting.
If you can’t make it to one of the events listed above, you can still celebrate Diwali at home. Considering giving these suggestions a try:
- Read a book about the legend of Diwali with your children.
- Decorate your home with rangolis.
- Paint clay diyas to light up.
- Use solar-powered sparklers to light up the sky in a safe way.
- Make do-it-yourself lanterns.