This week St. Bernard’s has been celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights.  Diwali marks the Hindu New Year, and it is one of the most important holidays in India.  This year Diwali celebrations began on October 30 and continued through November 3.

The students at St. B’s were reminded about Diwali last Friday at assembly.  Three St. B’s mothers decorated the stage with traditional lights and announced some of the upcoming celebrations the boys could look forward to.  One of the things they mentioned was a special lunch in honor of Diwali. With the help of Mrs. Roberts, Chef Wells and her team made a delicious lunch on Tuesday which offered chicken curry, basmati rice, spinach potato aloo, and kesar kheer (saffron rice pudding) for dessert.  Parent volunteers decorated the cafeteria with clay lamps and flowers and dimmed the lights to help set the mood.

In classrooms throughout the school, boys have had chances to learn about Diwali. Mrs. Roberts shared the story of Ramayana with boys in Kindergarten.  She described the tale of Princess Sita, Lord Ram’s wife, who was abducted by an evil king named Ravana.  After a long and fierce battle between Ram and Ravanna’s armies, Lord Ram won and rescued his princess.  Lord Ram and Princess Sita were welcomed back to their kingdom with rows of candles in clay dishes lining the streets and houses and many fireworks in the sky.  Since that day, Diwali has been celebrated each year in India.

Fifth-grade students in Mr. Brady’s and Mr. Clavel’s classes have been studying The Ramayana in their classrooms as part of their history curriculum.  The boys have thoroughly enjoyed the dramatic tale of abduction and the conflicts that ensued.

First graders celebrated Diwali all together and met in Ms. Mackay’s room to hear St. B’s father, Gopal C., tell the legend of Lord Ram.  He described Ram as a superhero who was able to conquer many demons.  The boys loved hearing about the king of the monkeys and Kabandha, a monster with many arms.

Gopal also explained some traditions that have carried into the present, which include cleaning homes and temples on the morning of Diwali in preparation for the celebrations at sunset.  People pray to Lord Ganesh and Goddess Laxmi hoping to be blessed with good luck, health, joy, wealth, and prosperity.  After sunset the temples at home are decorated with marigolds and roses in colors of orange, red, and pink, which are all holy colors in India.  A prayer, or pooja, is sung, and then every room at home is lit with a diya, a clay lamp that is often decorated.  First graders then had the chance to decorate their own diyas with sparkling paints and jewels.

We wish everyone a happy Diwali!  Many thanks to Mrs. Roberts, Chef Wells and her team, and all of the parent volunteers:  Gopal C., Manju C., Vedica Q., Anitha S., Reemah S., Punya S., and Sonya T., all of whom made this holiday bright and memorable for everyone at St. B’s.