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Chalo (come), let′s celebrate Diwali!

October 30th, 2020 By Janice Rodrigues

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).

The festival runs over 5 days. This year, the main day of Diwali falls on 14 November. Find out about the history and significance of this festival, its activities and celebrations, and explore our classroom resources.

Burning Diwali candle and yellow flower petals
Diwali Indian festival candle by rsbunty65. Pixabay. Licence to use.

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:

Diwali in New Zealand

In New Zealand, melas (fairs), dance, delicious spicy cuisine, and fireworks are some of Diwali's festive highlights. Events and locations include:

Auckland Diwali festival — this festival guide and map covers various Diwali events in Auckland.

Diwali celebrations New Zealand — 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:

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

Topic ExplorerDiwali and Festivals and celebrations are curated sets of online resources about this festival and others from around the world.

Many AnswersDiwali (festival of lights) and Festivals and celebrations (New Zealand) will guide you to safe and reliable websites featuring these topics.

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.
  • Deena the Diwali Fairy by Daisy Meadows, 2020.
  • Dīpaka kī Dīvālī = Deepak's Diwali by Divya Karwal, 2019.
  • Diwali by Julie Murray, 2018.
  • Diwali: Festival of Lights by Rina Singh, 2016.
  • India by Joanne Mattern, 2019.
  • Origami for Diwali by Roby Hardyman, 2017.
  • Shubd Diwali! by Chitra Soundar, 2019.
  • Rama and Sita: The Story of Diwali by Malachy Doyle, 2018.

New Zealand – a multicultural society

The celebration of Diwali, Chinese New Year, Pasifika Festival, and other major cultural events reflect the richness of New Zealand’s growing ethnic diversity.

Use this curiosity card on Multiculturalism (TMCC17) with its fertile questions to inspire inquiry into, and celebration of, the many cultures of Aotearoa New Zealand.

शुभ दीपावली! Shubh Deepavali! Happy Deepavali!

This blog post

This blog post was first published in 2019. We've republished it with Diwali 2020 updates and new book titles.

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