Diwali, short for Deepawali, is one of the most popular celebrations in India and other countries, such as Trinidad & Tobago, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Guyana, Surinam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Fiji.
The word 'Deepwali' came from the Sanskrit term Dipavali, which translates to 'row of lights'.
The Festival gets its name from the row (avali) of clay lamps (deepa) that Indians light outside their homes to symbolise and celebrate the victory of good over evil, light over darkness.
The Festival of Lights includes fireworks, food, gifts, coloured sand, and special clay lamps.
Houses, shops, and public places are decorated with small oil lamps called 'diyas', and when night falls, places become beautifully lit.
People also enjoy observing and creating rangoli designs made from coloured sand. Fireworks and sweets are part of the celebration too, so it's quite popular with children!
This Festival is as important to Hindus as the Christmas holiday is to Christians.
Here are some simple and fun Diwali activities to do at home with your little ones:
Make your own Diya lamps using salt dough to celebrate Diwali with your little one. Talk about the Festival of Lights and how bright colours are essential in the celebration. Show your little one pictures of diyas from books or the internet, and discuss their colours and shapes.
This is an excellent activity for your little one to practice their fine motor skills, hand dexterity, hand-eye coordination and early mathematical concepts such as measuring and counting.
Allow your child to be responsible for measuring, pouring and mixing ingredients!
1 cupful of plain flour (about 250g)
half a cupful of table salt (about 125g)
half a cupful of water (about 125ml)
Paint, glitter or plastic jewels
Mix the flour with the salt and gently pour the water, mixing it all together. If your dough is too sticky, add more flour; if it is too dry, add more water.
Mould the dough into lamps.
Leave to dry overnight, or put it in the microwave for a couple of minutes, making sure to check every minute and turn to stop it from burning.
When dry, it's decoration time!
Also, ensure you talk to your little ones about fire safety when lighting the candle, or you can use a battery power candle.
Diya Jars for Babies
Our young children can also get involved in making a diya lamp. You can help them create a diya jar instead!
All you need to do is find a jar or container with a lid and get a short battery-powered cable of fairy lights. Place the lights inside and close the jar! Your little one will love watching the different lights, engaging their attention and focus.
If you have a baby, why not use the jar to make tummy time more enjoyable!
Trying foods from around the world will open your little one's taste buds to another level! Exposing them to various foods will support their understanding of the world and their appreciation for different cultures. You could try some traditional Hindu food such as vegetable samosa, onion bhaji, or something sweeter such as Nankhatai (cardamom biscuits)
3 green cardamom pods (Split and remove the seeds)
40g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter at room temperature
70g self-raising white flour
25g gram flour (flour made from chickpeas)
24 skin-on almonds or chopped pistachios
Pound cardamom seeds with 1 tsp sugar to make a powder.
Beat butter, add remaining sugar and ground cardamom. Beat until creamy.
Mix flour, gram flour, semolina, and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
Combine the flour mix with the butter mix to form a soft dough.
Shape the dough into small marble-sized balls and place on baking trays.
Flatten the top of each ball and add an almond or chopped pistachios in the middle.
Chill for 20 mins.
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3.
Bake biscuits for about 20 minutes until golden.
Create Rangoli patterns with coloured sand or rice. You will need sand, rice or soup, pasta and assorted colours of food colouring. Separate your material and mix it with a food colouring to change its colour!
Look at some pictures of Rangoli from books or using the internet. Recreate these shapes on a large piece of paper. Encourage your little one to fill out the shapes with different coloured materials to fill the Rangoli pattern of colour and texture.
They will love feeling the texture of the sand in their hands!
It will provide various topics to discuss, such as colours, shapes, patterns and textures.
The practice of mindfulness and meditation is a significant component of Yoga. During Diwali, setting intentions, expressing gratitude, and reflecting on one's life is tradition.
Yoga can enhance these techniques, helping you and your little one become more present and mindful.
Here are eight easy and simple Yoga poses for you to try at home with your little one.
Stand on one leg, bend the other knee, and place your foot against your standing leg. Your arms can reach up like branches.
A gentle resting pose. Kneel on the floor, sit back on your heels, and stretch your arms forward, resting your forehead on the ground.
On your hands and knees, arch your back up like a cat, then drop your belly and lift your head like a cow.
Downward Dog Pose:
Bend forward from a standing position, place your hands on the ground, and walk them out until your body forms an upside-down "V" shape.
Sit with your feet together and gently flap your knees up and down like butterfly wings.
Lie on your back, bend your knees, and lift your hips.
Lie on your tummy, place your hands under your shoulders, and lift your head and chest off the ground.
Like Cobra, you slide forward like a snake slithering on the ground.
Reading to your little one is a fantastic way to introduce new sounds and words in a fun and interactive way. Experience with rhyming words in books and poems will also support their literacy development.
We have chosen five lovely books perfect for your little one to explore Diwali!
Diwali: Celebrate the World
by Hannah Elliot and illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan. This fantastic board book explores that the five days of Diwali are a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil and to pray for a prosperous season.
Amma, Tell Me About Diwali
by Bhakti Mathur introduces major Hindu festivals, figures and mythology to your child in a light-hearted and non-preachy style. It is written in rhyme and features vibrant and bright pictures.
Baby's First Diwali
by Dorling Kindersley is a perfect board book your baby will absolutely adore! Its bright and colourful images will take your little one on a journey to explore all the traditional things across the Festival.
First Festivals: Diwali
by Ladybird and Aditi Kakade Beaufrand; this book explores common Diwali traditions and helps young children understand the importance of this special holiday.
Rama and Sita: The Story of Diwali
by Malachy Doyle. This book introduces children to Rama and Sita and the story of Diwali.
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