Diwali is celebrated for five days. It follows the lunar calendar, and takes place on the fifteenth day of Kartika (the Hindu month that corresponds with October/November). Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps” and the celebration is known as the Festival of Lights.” People create rows of lights to commemorate heroes in Indian mythology who have triumphed over evil. Small oil lamps called diyas are lit in homes, gardens, outside walls, etc. There are many interesting Montessori activities to explore Diwali that you can share with your students.
Diwali: Hindu Festival of Lights - Montessori Curriculum Activities and Reading
India is home to many religions, and there are varied and unique versions of how and why Diwali is celebrated in different regions. Rama’s return from exile is celebrated in northern India and elsewhere. Gujarat honors Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) with Diwali, and Nepal celebrates Lord Krishna’s victory over Narakaasura (the demon king). Bengal associated Diwali with the goddess Kali. Diwali is also a Sikh and Jain celebration.
Diwali Activities for the Montessori Classroom
- Make a Hindu calendar and compare it to the Gregorian calendar.
- Invite a Hindu community member to your Montessori classroom to talk about Diwali and share artifacts, photographs, and traditions.
- Organize a school-wide cleaning to honor the cleaning of homes that take place during Diwali.
- As a class, cook Diwali recipes. Find some at http://www.diwalifestival.org/diwali-recipes.html
- Lighting a Lamp: A Diwali Story, by Jonny Zucker and Jan Barger Cohen
- The Story of Divaali, by Valmiki, Jatinder Verma, and Nilesh Mistry
- Diwali, by Trudi Strain Trueit
- Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Diwali: With Sweets, Lights, and Fireworks, by Deborah Heiligman
- Diwali (Celebrations in My World), by Kate Torpie, Chester Fisher, and Susan Labella
- Diwali: Hindu Festival of Lights, by Preszler and June
- Lights For Gita, by Rachna Gilmore and Alice Priestley
- Indian Children's Favourite Stories, by Rosemarie Somaiah and Ranjan Somaiah
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, October 9, 2009.