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Hillside Elementary School Kindergartners Celebrate Diwali

Students in Tasnim Nagrath's kindergarten class make diyas for Diwali.Hillside Elementary School’s kindergarten class marked the start of Diwali with a special celebration this week. 

Kindergarteners learned about Diwali, which is celebrated each year by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains, around the world. For those who observe the holiday, it is known as a festival of lights, and many typically celebrate by creating and lighting diyas, traditional clay oil lamps, to symbolize light over darkness. 

“For Diwali you make diyas, and red is the color for Diwali and celebration,” said kindergartener Thea H.

“Diwali is a celebration of lights, and they do fireworks for it,” added kindergartener Maya L.

After learning about the bright holiday, the kindergarten students were able to celebrate it themselves by making their own diyas in the classroom using paper and “lighting” them before displaying them on their class windows. 

“Diyas have lights inside, and I had a lot of fun making those,” said kindergartener Maya L. 

Kindergarten teacher Tasnim Nagrath said she felt it was important to acknowledge the holiday in the classroom and ensure students know about different cultures. 

“There are so many different holidays, and we need to bring awareness to them,” she said. “If a child is from a culture that celebrates a holiday like Diwali, imagine how nice it is for them to see it being taught in school and brought to the forefront.” 

Student-made diyas on display outside their kindergarten class window.Nagrath and her fellow teachers also took part in the celebration by wearing henna tattoos, a temporary design drawn on the body that expresses luck and happiness, and helped their students understand the importance of the holiday. 

“I think it's really important to learn about cultures around the world and these holidays that are happening with friends and teachers celebrating them,” said Nagrath. “We all live together, so it's important to honor all the cultures and learn about them.” 

Nagrath said that the students enjoyed learning about and celebrating Diwali so much that some of her students even brought the celebration back home. 

“A parent told me that their child came home and had made diyas for everyone in the family,” she said. “The excitement and joy of this are transferring into homes that would not have typically learned about the holiday or celebrated it, and it’s amazing.”