Diwali means “row of lights” and this festival of lights celebrated in India and by Hindus around the world, as well as Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists, honours knowledge, prosperity and light over darkness. The 5-day celebration takes place in autumn after the final summer harvest, and this year (2022), the main day falls on October 24th. It is a time of family gathering and celebration. One major Indian crop that has been cultivated for centuries is sugarcane. Celebrating Diwali by giving “mithai” or sweets as a greeting is very common.

Here are some ways to celebrate Diwali with children:

•    Lights—string colourful paper lanterns, LED lights or battery-powered candles in jars.
•    Decorations—make a colourful Rangoli on a tabletop or the floor using flower petals and coloured rocks (traditionally coloured sand and powdered lime, ochre and quartz are used however these may not be appropriate in a childcare setting). Rangoli symbolize happiness, positivity and liveliness and summon prosperity and good luck. Have the children collect and paint the rocks leading up to the celebration!
•    Make an Indian feast—try out some Indian-inspired recipes like Mango Lassi, a curry or Dahl with rice, and make “mithai” or desserts without added sugar by using pureed dates. Gajar Ka Halwa is a favourite Indian dessert perfect for the fall season. Its made with grated carrots which are sauteed in ghee (clarified butter) and milk then sweetened with dates and flavourful cardamom spice for an authentic taste.
•    Read a book about Diwali. Binny’s Diwali by Thirty Umrigar is a story of a child who shares the celebration of Diwali and all of its fun and symbolism with her classmates.
•    Invite in an elder or community member. Connect with families or community members to see if someone can come and share their knowledge, experience and understanding of Diwali with children.