Diwali celebrations light up schools
The colourful Hindu and Sikh festival is taking pride of place at a range of Sydney schools. Poppy Diamantis reports.
24 October 2022
Known as the ‘festival of lights,’ Diwali is illuminating schools around the Parramatta area during October and November.
One of the most popular festivals of the Hindu and Sikh religions, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance, with many illuminating their homes with oil lamps - diyas.
Several schools in Sydney’s Parramatta area celebrated Diwali with their own diya creations and festivities last week, continuing through this week.
Students, staff and parents, and carers of Parramatta North Public School captured the spirit of Diwali through song, dance and storytelling, with many of Indian and Sri Lankan heritage wearing beautiful traditional costumes.
Parramatta North Public School Principal Kathryn Methven said celebrating Diwali at the school acknowledged the Indian culture of many of the school’s students and their families.
“This is an important annual event as we join together to recognise Diwali, celebrating the festival of lights and spreading messages of positivity, goodness and kindness,” Ms Methven said.
“The messages of Diwali are important messages we aim to celebrate and live by throughout the year.”
At neighbouring Parramatta Public School, students and staff celebrated Diwali with a week of activities and events, including making diyas and rangoli, a traditional Indian art form using coloured sand or powder for decoration.
Relieving Principal Chris Barker said that 98 per cent of the school’s community have English as an additional language or dialect and that providing opportunities to come together as a school to appreciate cultures and traditions is important.
“All students learnt about the importance of diyas in festivals and ceremonies and painted their own clay diya to use in their homes,” Mr Baker said.
“Students and staff shared cultural knowledge at a special morning tea; and we used resources from our multicultural library and our Hindi Community Language Team, such as stories, information and songs related to Diwali.”
More than half of the school’s 626 students at Parramatta-based Bayanami Public School were born in India or Sri Lanka, and an additional 50 have Indian or Sri Lankan heritage.
Last week, students, staff, parents and carers came together to celebrate the school’s first Diwali since its opening in 2019, with a prayer and procession and traditional Indian dancing and costumes.
“With such a significant part of our school community of Indian or Sri Lankan heritage, we wanted to reflect the celebrations of our students and school community and join them in celebrating Diwali at school,” Principal, Bayanami Public School, Amanda Connelly said.
“Our Assistant Principal Arpana Pillay and a group of ten parents arranged for our students and their families to share Diwali with all our students, by taking part in traditional dance, making diya lanterns and listening to parents’ Indian musical performance.
“It really was very special to have our entire school sharing and experiencing Diwali and we look forward to celebrating it at our school again next year.”