Diwali [dih-vah-lee] is the Hindu festival of lights and one of their most important holidays. It celebrates the return of lord Rama from exile and the victory of good over evil. When Rama returned, they welcomed him by lighting “diyas” (lamps and candles). To celebrate, families have feasts, eat sweets, play games, give gifts and light fireworks.
To pass this great tradition down to our kids the weekend before, we go out for a “Diwali Day”. We really want them to know that this is a part of their culture and who they are. We visit Indian clothing stores to buy colorful bangles (bracelets) and a festive Indian outfits. We go to our local Indian market to see all of the colorful spices and take in the beautiful aromas. Then we cap off the afternoon with a fun Indian dinner at our favorite restaurant.
On the actual day of Diwali, we turn off all of the lights in the house and fill it with “diyas” and sit together to retell the story of Rama. The tradition is that the youngest tells the story to the rest of the family (with a little help of course). Afterwards, we all light incense and say our “pujas” (prayers and intentions) – things we’re thankful for and things we wish for in the coming year.
Then, it’s time to eat! One of the most important parts of Diwali. We make as much as we can, but sometimes ordering out is the best bet. Included in the feast is homemade chai tea and every Indian treat imaginable.
After dinner we sit down and play games – BINGO, Catch-Phrase, Pictionary and Rock Band – whatever the kids are into. Before the little ones start to lose interest, we cap off the night with sparklers and fireworks. It’s a well thought out tradition to save half of the fireworks from July 4th for Diwali.
While it’s hard to pass down all of our traditions, we know that it is one of the most important parts of educating our kids about who they are and the world around them.
Chai Tea Recipe
6 cups water
18 bags of black tea
2 tablespoons crushed fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of crushed cardamom
1 cup milk
Boil water then add tea bags.
Return to boil, then turn down to simmer for 5 minutes.
Add fennel seeds and crushed cardamom.
Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 5 more minutes
Add milk and add sugar to taste.
Serve and Enjoy!