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Students and staff at École Mission Central Elementary celebrate Diwali

Staff at École Mission Central dressed to celebrate Diwali. Photos provided by author.

By Navjot Dhillon, teacher, Mission

Diwali is one of the brightest and most significant festivals for many cultures across the Indian subcontinent. It is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains around the world. While each culture has its own stories and traditions to mark the festival, they all share a common celebration of light over darkness.

This year, the staff and students at École Mission Central Elementary came together for a special Diwali celebration.

I have been teaching for some time now and have always felt welcomed by my school staff and school community; however, seeing a holiday from my culture acknowledged by the entire school made me feel honoured and proud beyond words. When the idea of doing something big for Diwali came up, my colleagues responded with enthusiasm and open minds.

Rangolis decorate the windows at École Mission Central.

Diwali is a time when people come together to spread happiness, love, and positivity. In keeping with the spirit of the tradition, the school celebration was upbeat and filled with joy.

We started our Diwali celebrations by making rangoli designs to display in classroom windows. I shared information with my colleagues about rangolis, a traditional art design created during celebrations, so students could have some background knowledge about the artwork they were creating.

Later in the week, classes took on another art project to make diyas. Diyas are clay lamps that are lit for Diwali. Some students made diyas with clay, painted and decorated them, and created diya artwork to display in the school foyer and on bulletin boards around the school.

For our collective Diwali celebration, we gathered at a school-wide assembly where students shared a PowerPoint presentation on the history and meaning behind this holiday and how it is celebrated.

Students made diyas, clay lamps that are lit for Diwali.

Our school has a small number of students who celebrate Diwali at home. These students were keen to participate in the Diwali presentation. Many of the students also invited their friends to join, so the group who presented at our assembly was diverse and included students with many different backgrounds. Throughout the process of making and sharing this presentation, I could see students feeling proud of their culture and taking on leadership roles to showcase pieces of their culture that are important to them.

The families who attended the assembly shared that they felt honoured to be included in the school in this way.

The staff also committed fully to our Diwali celebration. My colleagues chose to wear chunnis, scarves worn as part of an Indian suit. I am grateful for supportive colleagues who welcomed the opportunity to celebrate a joyous occasion that made me and some of our students feel valued in our school community.

I hope we’ll continue to grow this tradition of a school-wide Diwali celebration in the future, and bring in other celebrations that will make staff and students from different backgrounds feel similarly included in our school community.

Staff at École Mission Central perform a dance at the Diwali assembly.


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