West Mercer Elementary celebrates Diwali, the Festival of Lights

Special to the Reporter

West Mercer Elementary School celebrated Diwali — the Festival of Lights — on the afternoon of Nov. 13.

Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains around the world, and it signifies joy and happiness, light over darkness and good over evil. This year, Diwali officially occurred on Nov. 12, so the school celebrated a day later.

“The most memorable part of Diwali for me is celebrating with my family and friends and enjoying some of my favorite foods,” said West Mercer fourth-grade teacher Monica Singh.

“I am Hindu, so I go to the temple and light diyas in my home,” Singh added. “Diyas are lamps that are lit to symbolize inner peace and overcome darkness. One of the Diwali traditions that we do in our family is make Indian sweets and share them with people close to us. I am really grateful I get to celebrate Diwali with the wonderful students, staff and parents at West Mercer this year.”

As part of the celebration, the whole school donned bright colors, painted Rangoli designs with sidewalk chalk in the undercover area outside at West Mercer, and shared Indian dishes.

West Mercer fifth-grader Shaivi Pandya explained what she and her class were doing to celebrate Diwali: “What my class did is we put up decorations last week. Later I am going to do a presentation on Diwali in my class and I am going to give everyone a small goody bag with a few gifts. My mom and a few other volunteers made a staff lunch for Diwali with Indian foods.”

West Mercer parents decorated the school and staff room and catered an Indian lunch for staff consisting of samosas, chutney, paneer curry, chana masala, naan as well as sweet and savory snacks that were nut free.

West Mercer fourth-grader Divit Kumar shared how his family celebrated Diwali over the weekend. They helped make decorations, and Kumar’s mother made laddu and other foods that they use in their culture.

“So while she was making those, we got ready for our prayers. So we kind of like put candles all over our house and then my mom gets the table ready and then we do a prayer,” Kumar said. “And then our mom gives us a colorful string around our hands and then she puts a marking on our forehead to give us good luck. And then they give out Diwali gifts. And then after that we ate food and enjoyed family time.”