Students and teachers in the Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows School District celebrated Diwali with food, crafts, and clothing last week.
To help people better understand the annual event, SD42 English language learner teachers Sukhdeep Birdi, Kawaldeep Ghuman, and Harjit Chauhan prepared a short video explaining the traditions and symbols of the South Asian festival of lights.
“We noticed the need for resources and that led to an exciting collaboration,” Chauhan said. “By putting ourselves and our families in the video, we wanted to create an educational experience that is authentic and relatable, and we hope that our personalized touch educates our schools and community.”
In the video, the teachers explain that Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps,” and is celebrated in mid-October to early November by Sikh and Hindu communities around the world. Shops, houses, and public places are decorated with lights and oil laps called diyas and people make rangoli, share sweets, exchange gifts, offer prayers, and enjoy festive fireworks.
“It is a joyful time of connecting with family and friends, and traditionally some families celebrate this festival over five days,” Chauhan said. “Each family celebrates this beautiful time in their own way.”
Some SD42 schools participated in the celebration.
Students and staff at Westview Secondary dressed up in bright, elegant clothes and spent the day enjoying Indian cuisine, learning about the festival, and painting diyas. Throughout the weeks leading up to Diwali, the school library also displayed books featuring Indian and South Asian authors and stories.
Westview teacher librarian Krystyna Doran-Eddy said the lessons and displays were a collaborative effort between student aides Ashmeet Panag and Parteek Gidda, student teacher Maninder Heer, art teacher Parminder Cruikshank, and IT person Aj Kular.