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Over the weekend, many children and families across the UK (and indeed the world) celebrated Diwali!

Diwali is an important celebration for many people of the Hindu, Sikh and Jain faiths. It holds special significance in these religions and is a time for families to come together. Many families will decorate their homes, wear new clothes, say prayers, eat special foods and enjoy firework displays.

The word ‘Diwali’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Deepavali’, which means ‘rows of lights’, and you will find that people often use the terms interchangeably.

The celebrations and stories relating to Diwali are different for individual faiths. For many Hindus, for example, Diwali marks the beginning of the new year, the return of deities Rama and Sita and the triumph of light over darkness. In the Sikh faith, the festival goes by another name – Bandi Chhor Divas. For followers of the Jainism, it is a special moment in their history when their founder Lord Mahavira is said to have reached a state of ‘Moksha’. As such, the festival represents lots of broader themes such as freedom and light.

Diwali at school

We found these sites had useful resources for learning more about Diwali – Diwali – Cbeebies and Diwali – BBC Bitesize

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Story Project post if it didn’t recommend some beautiful books to discuss with your class. In all the books we looked at, we couldn’t find a single one that we didn’t want to open immediately; such is the colour and beauty of this festival.

The Best Diwali Ever by Sonali Shah

Age range: EYFS/KS1

A delightful story about two siblings celebrating Diwali. Who will win the rangoli competition? Will Ariana’s cheeky brother Rafi ruin the fun?

We love the themes of sibling rivalry and the magic of families that seep from the pages of this book. It has a helpful non-fiction section about Diwali that gives some context too.

The Little Glow by Katie Sahota

Age range: EYFS/KS1

A truly diverse and inclusive book that looks at the ways different communities use light in their celebrations. If you are looking for a book to kickstart a conversation around faith and culture, this is the book to start with. We love how it uses the idea of light to bring people together, showing us once again that our similarities are just as important as our differences.

Rama and Sita: The Story of Diwali by Malachy Doyle

Age range: KS1

An introduction to the story that inspired the festival, this eye-catching book is a must for Years 1, 2 and 3. We shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but if we did we would choose this story based solely on it’s bright hues!

The Prince of Fire by Jatinder Verma

Age range: KS2

The Prince of Fire is a bold re-imaging of the Ramayana, an ancient Indian Sanskrit epic that details the story of Rama and his defeat of Lanka. In it’s retelling, children will be gripped by the adventures of Rama and his friends and rejoice in the celebration of light. This is a fantastic addition to any school library and certainly not just reserved for November.

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