Looking down my street at the houses bedecked in twinkling lights, you would be forgiven for thinking Christmas had come early. However, these lights are not early Christmas decorations, they are in honour of Diwali, the Festival of Lights. A festival celebrated by millions of people across the world and across a number of faiths, including our family.
Each of the religions, and indeed each family, celebrating has it’s own traditions on the occasion of Diwali. However most of them will involve diyas (lights), sweets and gift giving. You can learn more about the history of Diwali and what it means to different religions here.
Throughout my childhood Diwali was the biggest festival of the year, a time for the whole family to come together to enjoy my grandma’s special Diwali spread, including homemade indian sweets and always her famous pakore. There would be clay diyas lit in the doorway and throughout the house, a gentle flame flickering in the dark.
The best bit for the kids of course was the fireworks! We would all wait eagerly for our dad and uncles to return from work to see how many fireworks they had for us, hardly able to contain our excitement as they brought in box after box of rockets, catherine wheels, sparklers and roman candles. We would all spend the night outside in the garden, making shapes in the dark with sparklers in our gloved hands, breathing clouds of smoke in the chilly air, jumping with joy as giant fountains of light exploded overhead. From the sounds and smells filling the night air it seemed like the whole neighbourhood was doing the same thing. We were all taking part in an unspoken, unofficial fireworks competition, each looking across at the neighbours’ rocket combination bursting above the fences before attempting to set off an even bigger and better one of our own just to show them.
Such fond memories of such a special time.
Sadly, here in the desert I am not able to recreate the same Diwali experience for my own kids. We don’t have our extended family here to create that special festival feeling, fireworks are illegal for private homes and there is certainly no chill in the air to wrap up warm and cosy against. But there are still things we can do to mark the occasion. We can still light diyas (although while they are still young I am a bit nervous about naked flames and will be using electric tea lights!). We can do fireworks crafts even though we can’t light the real thing. And we can give cards and gifts of sweets to our friends and neighbours.
I’ve not seen many Diwali cards suitable for children to give in the shops here so I decided to create my own for the kids to colour in and give out. You can download and print as many copies as you like here too. Just print on regular paper or card and fold or print directly onto card blanks for a more professional finish. Don’t forget to post a picture of your coloured in cards to my Facebook page, I would love to see them.
Download my free printable colouring Diwali Card by clicking on the image below to open it and saving it to your computer.
Do you celebrate Diwali, what are your traditions? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you!