Diwali for kids
Celebrate "Diwali" (Festival of Lights) with kids in America

What is "Diwali" and how can you celebrate with kids in America? Come late October or
early November, Hindus from Nepal, India and across the world celebrate Diwali, a
Festival of Lights. Everyone is lighting the way for the goddess of wealth and
prosperity.

To encourage her visit, Hindus light the way with rows of oil lamps called "divas," which
they set out as the sun sets. The more candles, lamps and lights the easier it is for the
goddess to visit to bring her good fortune. For kids, Diwali brings a feast for the eyes
with fireworks and firecrackers, and for their tummies special sweets and even new
clothes. Good fortune indeed!

This five-day festival of lights welcomes in the lunar new year with various activities
where good triumphs over evil:

  • Men make noise with firecrackers and fireworks to ward off evil.
  • Everyone places Diwali clay lamps called "divas"  inside windows and outside
    doorways to entice the goddess of wealth, known as Lakshmi, to visit them
    throughout the coming year.
  • Women dress in fancy saris, (left an American Doll wears a sari), and girls wear a
    traditional dress, called "shalwar kameez."  
  • People clean their homes and welcome guests.
  • Friends and family feast on traditional vegetarian Diwali dishes, which may
    include poori breads, channa (stewed and seasoned chick peas), samosas
    (pastries stuffed with curried potatoes, onions and other spices), and a bevy of
    sweets with coconut, and ground almonds.
  • Families have a special way of celebrating:
  • Sisters cook for their brothers and attend to their needs; while Brothers
    give their sisters presents.
  • Children honor their parents with a ceremony of bowing in respect. In
    return, parents offer their children a blessing.

Wondering how you might celebrate Diwali with kids in America?
Welcome the goddess of prosperity into your home and celebrate cultural diversity in
America with your own version of Diwali. The festivities include sweets, firecrackers,
games and gifts.Here's are suggestion  to celebrate Diwali and learn about the Hindu
traditions with kids:

  • Read stories about Diwali: Storytelling is an important part of Diwali. Most
    important is the story of Rama and Sita, which is basically a story about how
    good wins over evil. If you are familiar with Diwali, then you might consider
    reading with your child "The Story of Divaali,"right. ("Divaali is an alternate
    spelling, less recognized.) This children's book is beautifully illustrated and
    written, but it's not for those new to Diwali as it assumes prior knowledge. A
    great read for everyone else is " Lighting a Lamp: A Diwali story,"  left, is an
    ideal book to read.

  • Color! Diwali is about bringing in the light and casting out darkness, so invite kids
    to color Diwali images to help them gain an understanding for this festive and
    very colorful holiday. Here are some wonderful Diwali coloring pages.

  • Involve kids to spruce up your home:
  • Everyone can participate in cleaning up, and putting toys away.
  • Kids can also help you decorate your home in bright reds, greens and yellows as
    the holiday is all about releasing darkness and gloominess. The aim is to allow
    bright lights and with it prosperity for the coming year.
  • Get out the chalks! The Hindus decorate with Rangoli patterns, intricate designs
    on the grounds outside their homes and temples, designed to entice the
    goddess to give her blessings. The kids can make chalk designs to direct the
    goddess of prosperity to enter the door of your home.

  • Honor Hindu traditions: Sisters can help cook and attend to their brothers needs
    (such as bringing them a drink). In a return of thanks, boys can present a small
    gift to their sisters, such as a small sweet or toy to share. Traditional Diwali
    games include dice and cards.

  • Henna tattoos are a fun way to share in the culture. Crayola Quick and Easy Body
    Art, left is a safe and easy way to apply fun henna desgins to hands, feet and
    face.

  • Talk about the New Year. Diwali for kids is an exciting time as everyone starts
    anew. Kids can share their hopes for the coming year and wish everyone a
    Happy Diwali!

Diwali Gifts
Want to invite the goddess Lakshmi into your home? Here are some fun ideas for gift
giving or for yourself:

  • Diwali gift for a little girl: On Diwali everyone wears festive new clothes, and her
    beloved Barbie should too. The collectors Diwali Barbie, left, features a beautiful
    sari.  Diwali Barbie makes a lovely gift. You might otherwise sew your own sweet
    sari for a Barbie doll and use beads to create appropriate jewelry.

  • Diwali gift for kids: Card games or dice games are traditional to play

  • Diwali gift for a sister: The Lakshmi table top fountain, lower left, is wonderful
    way to welcome the goddess into your home.

  • Diwali gift for parents: Create a home temple with the Ganesha Gift PuJ Thaali,
    right. The  Puja Thaali is complete with a stick incense holder, diya holder,
    kesar/rice tikka holder as well as a lidded sindoor holder. The Ganesh thaali
    measures 9.5 inches in diameter.

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