Light-Hearted Fun for Diwali
This time of year, we’re all aglow for Diwali, India’s “Festival of Lights.” This beloved annual celebration features twinkling lights, feasts, sweets, festive attire, presents, family, and friends.
All for the Good
Originally a Hindu festival, Diwali is now a nationwide celebration in India. Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains also have legends and beliefs tied to the event. Though the story behind the holiday varies by faith and location, the triumph of light over darkness is a common theme. In some areas, Diwali honors the night that Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, wealth, and fertility, chose the god Vishnu, the protector and preserver of creation, to be her husband.
What a Welcome Mat!
One of the most iconic Diwali decorations, besides the thousands of clay lamps that twinkle from windows, called diyas, are colorful, elaborate rangoli floor designs.
Families create these rangoli on the ground outside their homes to welcome guests and bring good luck and prosperity.
Today, common rangoli ingredients include colored sand, rice, flour, charcoal, sawdust, powdered quartz, turmeric, vermillion, flower petals, small colored rocks, and leaves or leaf powder.
Work as a family to create your own rangoli design in your yard, on your patio, or on a large sheet of drawing paper. You’ll need chalk and ingredients to fill in your design. Go for a walk or look around your house for sand, spices, seeds, leaves, flower petals, grains, and even little rocks.
Use the chalk to sketch out the size and shape of your design. Repeating geometric patterns work well, and you might even incorporate a drawing of a flower, fish, or bird into your design. Better yet, add something particularly symbolic for your family. Then fill in the outline with your ingredients.
Don’t forget to take a photo. (Tip: If spices and seeds are part of your rangoli, sweep it up after photographing so as not to pose a danger to pets or wildlife.) Rangoli designs are often passed down from generation to generation, so maybe you just invented your family’s own unique one!
Desserts for Days
There are actually five days of Diwali, but the third day is the main event, when families gather together for candle-lit feasts topped with a mouthwatering spread of sweets.
One favorite treat served on holidays, including Christmas, and at feasts is rice kheer, a pudding made with milk, fragrant basmati rice, dried fruit, nuts, and comforting spices like cinnamon and cardamom. Invite your small helpers to join you in whipping up this easy recipe, then dig in and enjoy its creamy goodness warm or cold.
Learn more about India, and show us your rangoli designs using #LittlePassports.