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Diwali – festival of lights

This page might include information, links, and events that are specific to 2019. It will be updated as soon as 2020 information becomes available.

diwali dancers.

Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most popular Hindu festivals. Diwali in 2020 begins on 12 November and will continue for five days. 

Diwali, also known as Deepavali, or the Festival of Lights, signifies the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and renewal of life. Millions of Hindus around the world, including those in New Zealand, celebrate Diwali with gifts, lights, fireworks, and special meals. Major public festivals, along with private and family celebrations, mark Diwali in New Zealand.

Diwali is a great opportunity to engage with the local Indian Hindu community, especially those members who are families at school. Extend your school Diwali celebrations into the community, by encouraging family input into all aspects of your planning, teaching, and learning. It is from families that you will get valuable stories, artefacts, language, food, and dance, all of which will support the learning areas, key competencies, values, and principles of The New Zealand Curriculum - especially those which describe cultural diversity.

The NZC and cultural diversity

The importance of recognising and celebrating cultural diversity is a strong message in The New Zealand CurriculumThe New Zealand Curriculum identifies a number of values that have widespread community support, including diversity – "as found in our different cultures, languages, and heritages". The value of diversity is visible in schools when we see respect for others and their views, beliefs and cultures; dialogue; tolerance; inclusion; cultural safety; wairua and spirituality. 

The cultural diversity principle

"The curriculum reflects New Zealand’s cultural diversity and values the histories and traditions of all its people.”
The New Zealand Curriculum, p. 9.

Cultural diversity is one of eight principles in The New Zealand Curriculum that provide a foundation for schools' decision making. The principle of cultural diversity calls for schools and teachers to affirm students’ different cultural identities, and incorporate their cultural contexts into teaching and learning programmes.  

A 2012 report by the Education Review Office noted that in schools where the cultural diversity principle was evident, “teachers provided practical opportunities for all students to be proud and share their languages and cultures through cultural groups, special events, and school festivals that celebrated cultural difference.”

The cultural diversity principle in action

Amesbury School – Celebrating Diwali
In this snapshot, teacher Sonali Singh and Associate Principal Angela Johnston describe how they celebrated Diwali at Amesbury School.

Diwali in the classroom

Celebrate Diwali in your school by:

Diwali sign.

Eating and sharing: A few recipes to tantalise your taste buds over the Diwali period.

Celebrating: Try some Indian dance with your class, traditional or Bollywood style, or invite a local school or community group to come and perform or workshop dance at your school.

Playing: Integrate Diwali into maths with card games and dice games - players are meant to be more lucky at this time of year, so dice and card games are very popular.

Creating: Explore symbolism, symmetry, and geometric shapes with Diwali crafts - diya, rangoli, cards, flower garlands, thali plates, lanterns, and fireworks.

Passing on: Work with Hindu Indian children in the school to make a Diwali resource for future teaching and learning. What about a documentary following a student through Diwali for instance?

Gifting: What could your class do to help spread good luck and fortune in their community?

2019 festival dates and event information

Auckland – October 12-13, 2019 from noon to 9pm. Closes with fireworks on Sunday night. 

Wellington – Sunday 24th November, 1.30pm-9.15pm

Christchurch – Saturday 26 October 2019 2:00pm – 10:00pm

Dunedin – Saturday 26 October 2019 11:00am – 1:00pm

Teaching resources 

Asia celebrations
Celebrations engage all our senses, connect us to others, and foster a sense of place. These units, for levels 2, 4 and 5 of the New Zealand Curriculum, allow you to look at celebrations through any context - in this case Diwali.

Creating Rangoli
A visual arts unit for levels 1–2 from Arts Online that explores Indian Rangoli designs.

Dance styles
A Secondary dance unit from Arts Online that focuses on Bollywood dance, a style of dance seen in Bollywood movies that fuses classical Indian dance with Western dance.

School Journals and Ready to Read

A shared text, set in NZ, which describes an Indian girl’s experience of the five-day festival of Diwali. There is an audio version and accompanying teacher support material.

Wearing a Sari 
Part 1 Number 2 2008
An article in which Sathna shows Jessica's class how to wear a sari.

School Journal Part 2 Number 4 2005
An article about a rangoli competition that was held during Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. This has accompanying Teacher Support material.

Bells and Butterflies
Part 2 Number 1 2005
An article that tells how a young Indian girl, Nileesha Parbhu, prepares for and performs in a concert, dancing in the traditional Bharata Natyam style. 

Updated on: 23 Sep 2019