A way to introduce the festival of lights, Diwali.
You will need
- A traditional terracotta oil lamp or a picture of one.
- Some suitable sweet treats preferably in the traditional style.
- Ingredients if making your own sweets
- Craft materials if making a creative project
Before you start
You may wish to research some items and rituals mentioned in this plan if you are not familiar with them or don’t know their purpose. You could reach out to people in the community who celebrate Diwali who might be willing to visit and explain.
Discover the basics of Diwali
- Ask the young people about any religious festivals they know about e.g., Easter, Ramadan, Hannukah. What do they know already, have they heard any stories or learned about any traditions at school?
- Show the group a traditional terracotta oil lamp (a diya) and explain it’s significance. Lakshmi, the goddess of light and prosperity will be welcomed into the house by the light of the lamps.
- Explain that fireworks are often lit to scare away evil spirits and jealous eyes from your household.
BBC Bitesize has some resources to introduce your group to Diwali if they’re useful to you.
Activity idea: make some sweet treats
- Invite the group to try a variety of traditional sweets which are typically homemade and shared with neighbours and family members.
- In groups, your Scouts could try making their own snacks, like vermicelli a quick and easy dessert. Ingredients can be found from most big supermarkets and BBC Good Food has a good recipe to use.
Activity idea: flash, bang, splat!
- As fireworks and light make up such a big part of diwali, capture the moment when the spirits are scared away with some creative artwork. This can get messy!
- Choose your canvas, be it paper or maybe something bigger and how you’re going to show the fireworks or light on your paper. Perhaps you’re going to print the shapes on, maybe great splats and squirts of paint or even dropping colour from height onto it!
- Set everything up and set your Scouts to work! You could enhance the youth-shaped nature by having the young people choose what feels right for them.
Everyone has events they celebrate throughout the year. They may even do similar things at these events even if it is for a different reason to you. Celebrations are a good chance to come together and have fun even if you believe different things.
This activity has allowed young people to explore and understand their own beliefs and the beliefs of others who belong to different major religions around the world.
Do your young people know anyone who celebrates Diwali? Do they understand them better now?
This activity may involve flames and hot objects. Consider where they will be when lit and what dangers this may cause.
When choosing traditional sweets and any cooking activity be aware of all ingredients and any food allergies within the group.
All activities in the Scouts should be risk assessed, following the Scout rules.
Change the level of challenge
There are lots of different aspects to Diwali that you can choose to focus on depending on the needs and abilities of your Scouts. Younger sections may prefer the crafting activities like making diya lamps (see ‘Take it further’) or expressing the creative side while your older Scouts may like the challenge of cooking something different.
Make it accessible
Those with allergies may not be able to try traditional sweets so try using foods they can eat or adapting a recipe that does not use these ingredients. There are plenty of traditional foods linked to diwali to choose from.
Young people with sensory issues may find it useful to step away from the activities by drawing rangoli patterns or may learn more by feeling the lamps before they are lit.
Youth Shaped guidance
Involve the young people and ask for their stories and experiences to shape the activity and the conversation. If using this to work towards a Faith or World Faith badge, ask the young people which faiths they are curious to discover more about.
This activity has been created by Alison Osborn, Scout Network member with Pegasus Scout Network and Skills Instructor with Stanley’s Own Scout and Guide Band as part of her King’s Scout Award.
Outcome: Understanding others through their celebrations.
Time: 30-60 mins
Cost: £1-£5 per person
Location: Indoors/Outdoors/At home
Suitable for: Beavers, Cubs, Scouts
Take it further
Fancy making your own diya? Ideal for Squirrels, Beavers and Cubs there’s an activity for that ready to go on the Scout website.