Last Thursday, second graders in William O. Schaefer Elementary School teacher Jaclyn Nandlal’s class learned about Diwali, the festival of lights!
Diwali is celebrated by many people in India and it’s a time for families to come together and celebrate the victory over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. The festival is celebrated over the course of five days with the main celebration occurring on the third day, November 12. “It is really important for me to create a community within my classroom each year. During Meet the Teacher Night, I told families that I would be happy to highlight any cultural holidays that they celebrate at home. Diwali happened to be one of them. I think it is important for students to be proud of who they are, where they come from and what their families celebrate. Seeing my students beam with pride to share their cultural traditions for Diwali was amazing. Students were excited to teach their classmates about the five-day celebration of Diwali, diyas, rangolis, desserts and fireworks that commemorate the spirit of light overcoming darkness,” said Nandlal.
To begin the lesson, Nandlal read the class the book, “The Light Within You,” by Namita Moolani Mehra, which is about a young girl visiting her family in India to celebrate Diwali. Nandlal then went on to discuss the meaning of the holiday, what happens during each day of the celebration and common items that are used during the festival including diyas, which are clay lamps that families use to decorate their homes with, and marigolds, which are the main flower of Diwali. Nandlal and students in the classroom that celebrate Diwali also discussed some of the popular foods and sweets that are often served during the celebration such as ladoos and jalebi.