[Thursday, October 23rd] is Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. Celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, Diwali is a celebration of the victory of Good over Evil, Knowledge over Ignorance and Light over Darkness.
Traditionally, Diwali is celebrated by lighting small painted clay lamps inside and outside of homes. Nowadays, many people celebrate with fireworks, electric lights, and brightly lit paper lanterns. People also give gifts and sweets (great recipes here) and decorate their homes with colorful artwork called Rangoli. These patterns of rice flour or colored sand are placed around the home, especially in doorways, and range from simple to extremely elaborate.
This is a wonderful holiday to introduce children to Hindu culture, especially because there are many simple and beautiful ways to introduce it. Our favorite (fairly inaccurate) Diwali tradition is making Diwali Lamps. Although not at all traditional in terms of appearance, I think it is a nice representation of the ideas behind Diwali. Colors, light, and joyful celebration are all encapsulated in these easy, fun lanterns.
Starting with pint-sized mason jars, or any other small jars (jelly jars work well), cut various colors of crepe paper into small squares. Mix equal parts school glue and water in a small bowl, and use to “paint” the jar in sections so you can apply the paper. If you would like, you can also apply a layer of glue over the top of the paper once it’s dry, to make it more sturdy and waterproof.
My kids love creating their own patterns and the simplicity of the process means even the youngest kids can participate. Once they are dry, place tea light candles (or battery-operated ones) in each lantern, and place in a window or doorway to light up the night!