Earlier this month, we organised some Diwali-themed entertainment at a Mela (a Diwali celebration) at the Nehru Centre in Central London.
We devised a theatre arts workshop which we did with 70 children based on the Diwali story.
Diwali (popularly known as the festival of lights) signifies the triumph of good over evil and commemorates the return of Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshman, from his exile and his vanquishing of the demon-king Ravana.
In spiritual terms, it refers to the awareness of the inner light. Central to Hindu philosophy is the assertion that there is something beyond the physical body called the Atman. The Diwali celebration of good triumphing over evil refers to the light of higher knowledge dispelling ignorance and awakening both compassion and awareness. Just as we celebrate the birth of our physical being, Diwali is the celebration of the our inner light.
While the story behind Diwali and the celebrations vary from region to region, the essence is the same - to rejoice in the inner light which empowers us to do good deeds.
The workshop included various drama games all centred around the Diwali stories. We also taught the children a song - a reworked version of The Lion Sleeps Tonight - and a dance routine to Jai Ho.
The children were just gorgeous, absolutely full of energy and they really enjoyed the workshop as you can see here:
I ran the workshop with two other teachers and we all had a fantastic time. It's the first time we've done something on this scale and it's an experience I'll remember forever.
We've since introduced the Diwali workshop into primary schools and I'm already looking forward to next year!
All photos courtesy of Leila Barbaro.