Exploring traditions from other cultures is one way to expand your family’s view of the world and cultivate a heart for the peoples that God loves. Learn about Diwali (duh-VAH-lee), the Festival of Lights, an important celebration across India and the HIndu world.
Every fall, Indian families look forward to Diwali, the biggest holiday of the year. This five-day Hindu festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. This year, Diwali begins on November 14.
Families prepare for Diwali by cleaning their homes, buying new clothes, and purchasing food for elaborate holiday meals. They also decorate their homes and communities with strings of sparkling lights and garlands of colorful flowers.
During Diwali, families worship Lakshmi (LUK-shmee), the Hindu goddess who is thought to bring wealth and prosperity. To welcome Lakshmi to their homes, some families use red powder to make small footprints which lead from their front door to the room where they perform worship. Other families create elaborate geometric patterns called Rangoli (rahn-GOG-lee) near the entrance to their homes using colored sand, powder, or flower petals.
Hindu families perform ritual worship ceremonies throughout the week and pray to idols of Lakshmi in their homes and at the local temple. They ask her to bring them good fortune and prosperity in the coming year. Afterwards, families eat delicious meals together and give gifts to their friends and family. Often these gifts include sweets, dried fruits, and nuts.
Day 3 is the height of the festival, when Hindus celebrate the victory of good over evil, and light over darkness. At sunset, families light small, clay oil lamps called diyas (DEE-yahz) and place them both inside and outside their homes. Some lamps are even set afloat in rivers. Millions of tiny flames push back the darkness as they shine from diyas in every community.
Many towns hold colorful firework displays. Loud firecrackers explode throughout the night. Children wave sparklers and enjoy staying up late to join in the fun.
Activity 1: Create Your Own Diya Lamp
Create your own diya lamps. For each member of your family you will need:
-toilet paper tube (1 tube makes 2 diyas)
-paint and paint brushes
-flameless tealight candle
- Cut the toilet roll tube in half to create two smaller tubes.
- Cut 5 equally-spaced vertical slits that go halfway down the tube.
- Carefully fold outwards to create 5 square flaps.
- If desired, use scissors to trim the flaps into flower petal shapes.
- Paint your tube a bright color. Allow paint to dry.
- Place your completed tube on a flat surface. Insert a flameless tealight in the center.
- After dark, gather as a family and turn on your tealights.
- Discuss how people who worship and pray to lifeless idols are living in spiritual darkness. Read John 8:12 together. Talk about Jesus’ promise in this verse.
- Pray that Hindu families would come to know Jesus, the Light of the World, who overcomes spiritual darkness and defeats all evil.
Activity 2: Create a Colorful Design
Work together to create a colorful design to welcome Jesus into your home. As our Savior, Jesus should always be an important part of our family life. Use sidewalk chalk to make your design outside on your porch, patio, or driveway. Or use paper, crayons, and colored markers to create a welcome poster to hang inside your home. Pray that many Hindu families would turn from their idols and welcome Jesus into their lives as their Savior and Lord.