Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in autumn every year. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. Diwali celebrations may vary in different communities but its significance and spiritual meaning is generally “the awareness of the inner light”.
Observed in accordance with the lunar calendar, Diwali was celebrated on October 18th this year, and across Toronto, various community groups, businesses, schools and associations celebrated. Creating Together was no exception. With over 2000 people identifying as Hindu in the Parkdale-High Park area alone, our local Diwali celebrations fostered a sense of home and community for those who observe the holiday, while also increasing awareness among all of the children, parents and caregivers who observe other holidays. Our student Neetu planned and implemented a number of activities, including decorating paper diyas, and making sure families enjoyed food and sweets.
According to Penn State Extension, children begin to notice gender and racial differences at about age 2, gender labels (boy/girl) and colours (including those applied to skin colour) at about 2 ½, and by 4-5 years, they start to display gender appropriate behavior and become fearful of differences.
Diversity activities teach young children to respect and celebrate the differences in all people, while also helping them understand who they are the context of race, ethnic group, culture, religion, geography, language and familial history. It helps them realize that we’re all humans, despite differences in how we look or dress, or what we eat or celebrate. Games and activities offer a fun way for young children to learn about differences and similarities among people and to introduce the concept of diversity. In so doing, we support them in their own identity formation and sense of belonging within the context of a diverse community.
Thank you to all of you who came out to enjoy Diwali with Creating Together this year.
May joy, prosperity, and happiness illuminate your life and your home!
Public Broadcasting Sysyem. “Diversity in the Classroom.” Precious Children. www.pbs.org/kcts/preciouschildren/diversity/
Biles, Barbara. “Activities that promote racial and cultural awareness.” In “Family Child Care Connections” edited by C. M. Todd 4(3): 4. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service, 1994. Retrieved September 2012. http://www.pbs.org/kcts/preciouschildren/diversity/read_activities.html
Children book list to celebrate diversity for children: Check out this article by Madh Mama