A special guest to the Lower Elementary classroom brought a taste of India to Room 3 on Tuesday. Miss Namie, whose parents moved from Madras, India, when she was very young, shared her traditions of Diwali with the class.
Different regions, Miss Namie said, celebrate Diwali in their own ways. She listed three reasons for the celebration. One reason is to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, into the home by opening doors and windows, and lighting oil lamps, or diyas. Another is the celebration of the story of Rama’s return after being exiled. A third reason she mentioned is the common thread through all of the regional celebrations, and that is the triumph of good over evil.
Diwali, or “festival of lights,” is held in October or November, depending on the moon phases, and lasts five days. This year’s Diwali was celebrated Nov. 11-15.
On the first day, homes undergo a spring cleaning, and decorations and gold might be purchased.
On day two, people decorate their homes with clay oil lamps, and create patterns called rangoli using colorful powders or flowers.
Day three brings celebrations with new clothes, food and a religious ceremony called a puja. The lit diyas invite the goddess Lakshmi into their homes, and firecrackers are set off to ward away evil.
After the celebrations, day four brings the first day of the new year with families visiting with gifts and good will.
Day five is a special day for brothers and sisters.
Miss Namie concluded her visit by sharing a sweet treat with the class. The treat of Ricotta cheese, butter, sugar and cardamom was a hit with many of the students. Other treats during Diwali include cheese- and nut-based sweets, curries and a variety of rices with vegetables.