A few years back, parents and children who celebrate Diwali at our school got together to host an assembly about Diwali, so that all of the students and classmates could experience the festival. One of the mothers created a powerpoint as her children and other students explained the holiday. For me, I loved learning from the parents and the students. Having never experienced the celebration, I listened intently and then asked the mother if she could share her powerpoint. She gladly did and I share some of her highlights.
What is Diwali?
Diwali is a religious observance commemorated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists around the world. Every autumn, the observance sees millions of people attend firework displays, prayer services and festive events in celebration of the occasion.
Derived from sanskrit word “Deepavali”
Deep = Light
Avali = Row
Diwali / Deepavali = Row of Lights
When is Diwali Celebrated?
Diwali is based on the lunar cycle and the movement of the moon, unlike the conventional Gregorian/English calendar. Diwali usually falls in Autumn. This year, it is observed on October 27 (October 26 in South India). In 2020, it will be observed November 14, and in 2021, it will be observed on November 7.
Significance of Diwali
Diwali is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. During the celebration, businesses, temples, shops, and homes are brightly lit. Families celebrate for five days with food, lights, gifts, and fireworks. This signifies the victory of good over evil and is why Diwali is also known as the festival of lights. People worship the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth) and Lord Ganesha on this day as they are believed to bring good luck, prosperity and wealth. The lights and lamps are also said to help Lakshmi find her way into peoples’ homes, bringing prosperity in the year to come.
Below is a picture she showed us of a satellite view of India during the five days of Diwali.
Rangoli is a popular Diwali tradition. It is the beautiful patterns made using colourful powders and flowers. People draw rangoli on the floor by the entrance of their homes to welcome the gods and bring good luck.
Last year, the preschool decided to have a Holiday Informance where the students sang songs from their music classes. I chose to include songs that they know from their fall and winter celebrations that we had been singing during class. These songs involved echo songs, call and response songs, simple songs, fingerplays, and songs about Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Diwali. When I wrote the parent who shared with me her presentation of Diwali, I asked her about an appropriate dance for the young children to perform in celebration of Diwali. She sent me this one and it was a great success. The students loved learning it and performing it at the informance. It was very easy to learn and the students ages 3, 4, and 5, thrilled their parents when we performed it.
I hope that by sharing this experience will encourage you to connect Diwali musically and authentically into your elementary general music classroom this week.
5 Days of Diwali Significance – Festivals for Kids: Mocomi. (2016, October 14). Retrieved from https://mocomi.com/5-days-of-diwali/.
10 fabulous facts about Diwali 2019! (2019, September 23). Retrieved from https://www.natgeokids.com/uk/discover/geography/general-geography/facts-about-diwali/.
Kaprihan, A. (2016, October 28). PPT. Far Hills.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com