On November 5, 2010, the Hindus in Singapore and in many other countries celebrated Deepavali, or Diwali, the Festival of Lights. We only heard about this very important Hindu festival when we started living here in Singapore (majority of Filipinos are Christian, some are Muslim, and the other religions would comprise a very small minority).
After hearing of and seeing the Deepavali celebrations in Singapore for 5 years, it was time that we learned a little bit about it. And what better way than by doing a unit study on Deepavali 🙂
1. My kids made chalk rangoli using sandpaper and chalk (thanks to activityvillage.co.uk for their wonderful section on Diwali for kids!). This was a fun and easy, albeit messy and dusty activity. My 10-year-old daughter made her own rangoli designs. I made a design for my 5-year-old son and he filled it in with colored chalk.
2. Using an easy recipe from Cath Senker’s book, Hinduism: Signs, Symbols and Stories, my kids and I cooked kheer – a sweet, milky rice pudding traditionally prepared during Deepavali. It was fairly easy to cook and didn’t require a lot of fancy ingredients. Perhaps due to the nutmeg, which to my family’s palate is quite an exotic taste, we didn’t quite take a liking to our kheer. Still, the experience of cooking was fun and educational.
3. On Nov 4, the day before Deepavali, we went with some friends to Little India. In and around the Deepavali Festival Village along Campbell Lane, we saw many, many stalls and stores selling vegetables, beautiful flower garlands, sweets, clothes, lights, gifts and trinkets, and much more. The crowd was so overwhelming though that after about an hour we made our way out. Fortunately, we were still able to catch the colorful street light up at dusk, just before we left Little India.
4. Finally, we made the Deepavali/Diwali lapbooks! In their lapbooks are pictures of the main characters of the Sanskrit epic Ramayana, photos from our trip to Little India, pictures of diya, rangoli and the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, and a copy of the kheer recipe we followed.
We learned that Deepavali/Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is a celebration ushering in the Hindu New Year. It is a time to ask Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and good fortune, for blessings of prosperity. It is a joyful and colorful time to be with family and friends.