Friday, October 09, 2009

Diwali: Hindu Festival of Lights - Montessori Curriculum Activities and Reading

NAMC montessori curriculum activities reading diwali hindu festival of lights
I must confess that I had not heard of the festival of Diwali until I viewed a television program episode that featured it. After that introduction, I began discussing Diwali with my Montessori students. They really enjoyed comparing Diwali to other cultural celebrations, and were delighted to find some similarities to ones they were more familiar with, like Hanukah.

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

NAMC montessori curriculum activities reading diwali hindu festival of lights fireworks
Diwali is also a time for renewal and new endeavors. In addition to lighting diyas, homes are cleaned and windows are opened. Gifts and sweets are exchanged and festive meals are shared. Fireworks are often part of Diwali celebrations. New clothes are worn because Diwali represents the renewal of life. It honors the approaching winter and the start of sowing season.

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
Diwali Books for the Montessori Classroom
  • 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
Diwali Resources for the Montessori Teacher
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, October 9, 2009.

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