Diwali

Next Wednesday (November 7) is Diwali — the festival of lights celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world.

Each religion has different reasons for celebrating the festival, but its overall symbolism is of the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.

For Hindus, this is represented by the story of Rama and Sita, who were exiled from their kingdom for 14 years. When they returned, people lit their way home with thousands of oil lamps.

For Sikhs, the festival is also a celebration of the freedom of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, who was released from prison in 1619 alongside 52 other princes. To welcome him, Sikhs lit up the Golden Temple in Amritsar, which at the time was just 15 years old.

For Jains, Diwali is the anniversary of the spiritual leader Lord Mahavira finding enlightenment in 527 BC.

Today during Diwali, people from across the three religions decorate their homes with spectacular lights, exchange gifts and attend impressive firework displays.

Light is one of the most universal symbols of goodness and hope, no matter what religion you are part of. What does it symbolise to you? Can you imagine a world in darkness?

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Assembly

In this video, BBC Teach recounts the story of Rama and Sita in a simple animation.

Activities

  1. Decorate your classroom for Diwali next Saturday.
  2. Write a poem or short story on the theme of “light”.
  3. Choose one of the three religions that celebrates Diwali — one that you do not follow yourself — and create a short video or presentation which explains why the festival is so important and how it is celebrated.