Chalo (come), let′s celebrate Diwali!October 21st, 2019
Diwali (or Deepavali), the Indian Festival of Lights, is one of India's most popular festivals. It marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year, and celebrates the triumph of good over evil.
For Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs, Diwali is a time to get the ghar (house) in order and the parivar (family) ready to celebrate the 5-day festival. There is lots to do! Houses are decorated, diyas (lamps) lit, special mithai (sweets) and food prepared, and families come together for puja (prayer).
This year, Diwali starts on 27 October. Read on to learn about the history and significance of this festival, its activities and celebrations, and explore our classroom resources.
Myths and stories about Diwali
Celebrating victory and prosperity is why Diwali is observed with such reverence and importance in India and elsewhere. Stories connected with Diwali include:
- Ramayana: Story of Diwali (YouTuve video, 4:28) — a classic myth about Sita's rescue from the clutches of the demon king Ravana.
- Diwali in history — covers Indian mythology and why the festival is a celebration of victories.
- The story of Diwali — explains the significance of Lakshmi and Vishnu to the festival.
Diwali in New Zealand
In New Zealand, melas (fairs), dance, delicious spicy cuisine, and fireworks are some of Diwali's festive highlights. Events include:
Auckland Diwali festival — this festival guide and map covers various Diwali events in Auckland.
Diwali celebrations New Zealand 2019 — includes a calendar of Diwali events in Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Hamilton, and other cities besides Auckland.
Diyas and rangoli to celebrate Diwali
The New Zealand Curriculum includes the celebration of Diwali as a way of embracing and recognising Aotearoa New Zealand's ethnic diversity.
Here are some ways to expand your understanding of Indian culture and join in the celebrations:
- All about rangoli, and rangoli crafts for kids
- Easy rangoli designs
- Diwali special activities
- Diwali crafts for kids
- Make your own diya for Diwali
- Diwali fort-making (YouTube video, 5:00)
- 10 Indian sweets for Diwali explained, plus recipes!.
Pop! Zoom! Bang! Have fun and be safe with fireworks
The tradition of fireworks during Diwali is an ancient one and signifies the triumph of light over darkness. Here are safety tips, precautions, and rules to keep in mind for a risk-free and entertaining time with the entire parivar (family).
Fire and Emergency New Zealand has guidelines on safety when lighting fireworks and considerations for pets and neighbours to keep in mind.
Environmental Protection Authority has advice on buying, selling, lighting, and storing of fireworks, including firecrackers and party poppers.
Resources from the National Library
Schools Lending Collection — use our lending service to request books on Diwali and all aspects of Indian culture. Here are some popular recent titles:
- ‘A Hindu Life’ by Cath Senker, 2018.
- ‘Celebrating Hindu Festivals’ by Liz Miles, 2016.
- ‘Crayola Diwali Colours’ by Mari Schuh, 2019.
- ‘Cultural Traditions in India’ by Molly Aloian, 2012.
- ‘Dharma’s Diwali’ by Jill MacGregor, 2016.
- ‘Diwali’ by Julie Murray, 2018.
- ‘Diwali: Festival of Lights’ by Rina Singh, 2016.
‘Happy Divali: The Festival of Lights’ by Joyce Bentley, 2016.
- ‘India’ by Joanne Mattern, 2019.
- ‘Origami for Diwali’ by Roby Hardyman, 2017.
- ‘Rama, Sita and the Story of Divaali’ by Jatinder Verma, 2002.
New Zealand – a multicultural society
The celebrations of Diwali and the Chinese New Year, the Pasifika Festival, and other major cultural events reflect the richness of New Zealand’s growing ethnic diversity.