Finding family-friendly ways to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, in Champaign-Urbana
Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs interpret the Diwali story differently depending on where they live. Two things about celebrating Diwali are the same no matter where you are: it is a Festival of Lights, and it commemorates a mythical story of good triumphing over evil.
Diwali’s main festival night — usually, on the 3rd day of a 5-day celebration — occurs after the harvest on the darkest night (new moon) of the Hindu month Kartika. In 2020, that puts Diwali on November 14. Since the Gregorian calendar used in the United States and much of the rest of the world is a solar calendar, not a lunar calendar, the date of Diwali differs every year but usually falls during October or November.
Diwali is a joyous holiday, involving candles/lanterns (or diya), traditional floor decorations (or rangoli), ritual housecleaning, homecoming, community, feasting, and fireworks! In cities and countries outside India where Indian communities are living, Diwali is considered a public celebration showcasing India and its culture but open to everyone.
In Champaign-Urbana, the Indian community and their non-Indian friends look forward to the annual Diwali on the Quad celebration organized by the Indian Graduate Students Association. This is always a great family event with beautiful lights, delicious Indian food, and even a Bollywood DJ! Unfortunately the pandemic has meant the cancellation of this year’s celebration, as well as many other traditional holiday events.
So keep an eye out instead for virtual Diwali celebrations, and listen on November 14 when your neighbors who celebrate will probably shoot off extra fireworks. In 2020, any celebration is worth celebrating with gusto!
- For kid-friendly information on Diwali, check out the National Geographic Kids website.
- Find 10 Sweet Diwali Recipes for Children here.
- For kid-friendly crafts, try 16 Diwali Crafts for Kids.