Diwali, The Festival of Lights, is celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. This post focuses on the Hindu celebration but the last book recommendation on this page, Let’s Celebrate Diwali by Anjali Joshi, discusses some of the similarities and differences between the festivals of each religion.
What is Diwali?
Diwali or Dipawali is a 5 day Hindu festival of light that celebrates the victory of good over evil. Diwali is India’s biggest and most important holiday of the year. Clay lamps called diyas are lit around homes to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi. Drawings, called rangolis, are made out of colored powder. Lord Ganesha is also worshiped during the festival in hopes that he and the Goddess will bring wealth, good fortune and prosperity. The lights of the festival are lit to protect the homes from the spiritual darkness.
When is Diwali celebrated?
Diwali is celebrated in either October or November. The date is determined by the calendar in India. Click here for the dates of Diwali up until the year 2040.
What are the 5 Days of Diwali?
- The first day of Diwali is Dhanteras. On this day people prepare for the festival by cleaning and decorating their homes.
- The second day of Diwali is called Naraka Chaturdasha or Choti Diwali. On this day people bathe in special oils to remove sins and wear new clothing. They also decorate their homes with diyas (clay lamps) and rangoli (drawings done in colorful powders on the floor and sidewalks.
- The third day of Diwali is called Lakshmi Puja and it is the main day of the festival. On this day homes are lit up with diyas and twinkle lights so that the Goddess Lakshmi will enter the homes and bless the people with good fortune. Families gather to eat a meal, sparklers are lit and many communities set off fireworks in celebration.
- The fourth day of Diwali is Govardhan Puja or Padva and families typically exchange gifts on this day (or on day 3).
- The fifth day of Diwali is the last day of the festival and it is called Bhai Dooj. This is a day for siblings to get together and exchange gifts and prayers.
Crafts for Diwali from Red Tent Art
Books for Diwali
From the publisher: “Binny is excited to talk to her class about her favorite holiday. But she struggles to find the words.Taking a deep breath, she tells her classmates about the fireworks that burst like stars in the night sky, leaving streaks of gold and red and green. She shares with them delicious pedas and jalebis. And she shows them clay lamps, called diyas, which look so pretty all the children ooh and aah.Featuring a heartwarming story by Thrity Umrigar, enchanting illustrations by Nidhi Chanani, and detailed information about the Hindu festival of lights, Binny’s Diwali is a holiday treat.” This book is great for ages 4 and up.
From the publisher: “The perfect picture book to introduce children to Rama and Sita and the story of Diwali, with text by award-winning author Malachy Doyle and stunning, colourful illustrations from Christopher Corr. Rama and Sita live happily in the forest – until Sita is kidnapped by the demon king, Ravana. Can Rama and the monkey king Hanuman follow the trail she has laid for them and save Sita, or will she be lost forever? Whether you’re looking for a Diwali gift or a simple introduction to the Diwali story to share with your children, this beautiful book, now reissued in a larger picture book format, is ideal. Book band: Purple Quizzed for Accelerated Reader Ideal for ages: 6+”
From the publisher: “You know about the 12 Days of Christmas. But do you know about the 5 days of Diwali, India’s Festival of Lights?
Go on an adventure with Maya, Neel and their cute little partner, Chintu the squirrel, as they learn all about this famous Indian festival of lights including Dhanteras, Diwali sweets, Rangoli drawings, fireworks and the special sibling bond of Bhai Dooj.
Maya & Neel’s India Adventures 10+ Book Series is written with the mission to RAISE MULTICULTURAL KIDS! We are Indie authors and 1st generation Indian immigrants, who have dedicated the past decade to spreading multiculturalism through our local dance & culture company as well through this book series whose extreme popularity has taken even us by surprise. You can follow our cultural journey on social media at Bollywood Groove and Culture Groove. To all our little and grownup readers: Thank You for supporting our work & mission!” Perfect for ages 4 and up.
From the publisher: “Harini is excited to share her Diwali story during circle time at school. She quickly learns that she’s not the only one with a story to share! Join Harini as she learns about Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and Buddhist Diwali traditions.”