Diwali is the celebration of light over darkness. It’s a holiday with broad appeal. People throughout India and several neighboring countries observe Diwali. It’s also a popular Hindu/Indian cultural event enjoyed around the globe. Today’s post features 10 fun facts about Diwali for kids.
You might also enjoy this collection of Diwali books for kids.
Diwali Facts for Kids
1. It’s Not Just One Day
Traditionally, Diwali is a 4- or 5-day festival. The middle day falls on the dark, new moon night of the month, Kartik. This month falls between mid-October and mid-November in the Gregorian calendar. This is how you write “Diwali” in Hindi, one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world.
2. But Diwali Is About Light
The word “Diwali” comes from the Sanskrit “depavali” which means “row of lights.” Lanterns are one source of light. But during Diwali, you are most likely to see oil lamps, called “diyas.” They come in all shapes and sizes. Many are in a teardrop form, which makes for a fantastic kids’ craft.
Fun Diwali Craft: Make a Diyas
You can find instructions for DIY diyas on-line. For our diyas, we simply shaped air-dry clay and then decorated the lamps with small jewel stickers.
Of course, you can use any kind of store-bought clay or even DIY salt dough. You can also paint your diyas.
Then, just add a votive candle, and you have your very own, easy-to-make Diwali lamp.
Sparklers are also a big hit when celebrating Diwali.
3. Diwali Is Not Just for Hindus
“Light” is actually a metaphor for knowledge/goodness. And Diwali celebrates its victory over ignorance/darkness. Lots of people are in favor of that, so lots of people enjoy Diwali! Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and even a few Buddhists all delight in Diwali-related festivities.
However, each tradition emphasizes its own narrative about what Diwali means. Sikhs commemorate the release of Guru Hargobind from prison. Jains honor Mahavir’s attainment of omniscience. Some Indians celebrate Krishna’s defeat of the demon, Narakasura. And still others celebrate Rama’s defeat of the demon king, Ravana. This video offers a 5- minute, animated version of that popular epic tale, called the Ramayana.
4. Originally, Diwali Was a Harvest Festival
Like many religious holidays, the natural rhythm of the land is at the heart of Diwali. After all, it occurs during the last harvest before the winter season. Traditionally, this is when people would seek Lakshmi’s divine blessing as they closed out one year and began the next. In some Hindu texts, the lights serve as symbols of the sun, which gives life to all.
5. Diwali is a Time for Sweet Treats
Like most holiday traditions, there are special foods for this holiday, just like for many others. For Diwali, they tend to be sweets!
Inhabitants of the Indian sub-continent began growing sugarcane thousands of years ago. In fact, they invented refined sugar in 6000 BCE! Sweet balls, called ladoos, are a quintessential Hindu/Indian holiday food that you will find people eating at Diwali. They come in all sorts of colors and flavors.
Find a recipe online and try making some with your kids! Pick a recipe that features ingredients, like cardamom, that might be unusual for your family.
You can also try these Diwali Almond Joy bites.
6. It’s Time for Fall Cleaning
Usually, a ceiling-to-floor scrub-down is associated with spring. In fact, that practice is probably associated with various spring holidays, including the Persian New Year (Nawruz), Passover, and Easter. Spring-cleaning was also common in northern climates. Once the weather warmed a bit, people could finally open the windows to clear out any dust or soot that had accumulated during winter.
In India, such cleaning sprees are associated with Diwali, which is in the fall. It probably does makes sense to clean before closing out the agricultural/financial year (and before winter starts)!
7. It’s Time for Color
Rangolis, made from flower petals or colored rice/flour/sand, ensure that Diwali is also a colorful holiday. These decorations are usually made on the floor and are traditionally done by girls or women. Flower designs and geometric shapes are quite common, and some designs are handed down from generation to generation.
Fun Diwali Craft: Make a Rangoli
Rangolis make a great Diwali craft, too. Simply find a rangoli or suitable mandala template on-line. Then, purchase some colored sand, prepare some colored rice, or select a small bouquet of flowers. With a little liquid glue, you’ll have your own rangoli in no time. Rangolis are said to bring good luck!
8. Diwali is a Time for Fairs
A festive holiday is the perfect time for a fair! Diwali is no exception. Called melas, these events include parades, dances, musical performances, henna artists, delicious food, and arts-and-crafts shows.
Many cities around the world host Diwali fairs that are open to the public. They’re great fun for kids and families. Do a quick internet/social media search to see if there’s one in your area!
9. It’s Time for Shopping
No, Diwali is not like Christmas. But, it is the busiest shopping season of the year in India. Historically, Diwali was a good time to visit the market, renew social connections, and buy something a little special for the year ahead. Some even consider purchases made during this time to be particularly auspicious. This is partly because Diwali is associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. In some regions of India, the puja honoring Lakshmi is the most important event of the entire week.
10. Diwali is a Time for Family and Friends
Traditionally, each day of Diwali has a particular theme. And each theme has a unique set of cultural practices associated with it.
For example, the Lakshmi puja is often on Day 3. The bonds between spouses are recognized on Day 4. And the bonds between siblings are honored on Day 5.
Of course, in modern times, people often celebrate when they can – on the most convenient travel days, whenever the temple is hosting its Lakshmi puja, or whenever folks can get together. Merry-makers also honor all kinds of familial relationships and community connections. Clearly, Diwali has become a great time to honor the divine and to celebrate one another.
Not yet convinced that Diwali is an important Hindu festival? Check out this video. It shows all the preparation done for a big Diwali festival. This one happens to be at the BAPS temple in Chicago, Illinois.
Everyone loves Diwali! Popes, presidents, princes, and prime ministers have all celebrated Diwali. And what’s not to love?! For those of Indian heritage, it’s a time to reconnect with the earth, with the deities, and with family and friends. For those not of Indian heritage, it’s a great way to learn about the culture of India and the Hindu traditions. It’s also just super-fun!
What is your favorite Diwali fact? Do you have a fun way to celebrate Diwali with kids?
This post is part of the annual Diwali for Kids blog hop from Multicultural Kid Blogs! See the posts below for great ideas on celebrating Diwali with children. You can find even more ideas from last year’s blog hop, 2017, 2016, and on our Diwali Pinterest board:
Maple and Marigold: Toasted Coconut and Pecan Burfi
Growing Up Gupta: 10 Fun Ways for Cross-Cultural Families to Celebrate Diwali