This Little Light Of Mine

Now we have put the clocks back and we are heading into the darkest time of the year, in the last week or so the night sky has been exploding with light in celebration of the festival of Diwali.

When Mrs Burnett asked 3RB if they knew anything about Diwali, a forest of hands shot up. Some of the children have special celebrations at home for Diwali and were keen to tell everyone about their experiences. At Sid’s house they let off firecrackers and had a special dinner. Hiral had sparklers in her garden. Diyan, like many people at Diwali, received a present. It was a fancy red and white checked shirt, and he is obviously very proud of it. Meanwhile, Raya and Rajan went to the Gurdwara where they lit candles. Trisha explained that this is because Diwali is a festival of light, and it has an exciting story behind it.

On the whiteboard, Mrs Burnett showed a picture of a small diva lamp and put a set of LED candles on each table to encourage the children to focus on the contrast between darkness and light. This put everyone in the mood to hear the story of Rama and Sita, and how Rama was sent into exile in the forest for fourteen years. Loyal Sita went with him and was tricked and kidnapped by the evil ten headed monster, Ravana. Rama and his brother Lakshmana, together with all the monkeys in the world under the command of Hanuman the monkey king, worked together to find Sita. They finally managed to rescue her after a terrific battle. Once Rama and Sita were reunited, it was time for them to return to their kingdom, where their homecoming forms the heart of the Diwali celebrations.

Mrs Burnett wondered how Rama and Sita might have felt after such a long time away in exile. Would they be welcomed home? Would people even still remember them? As the children pointed out, however, the diva lamps that people placed along the way home reassured both Rama and Sita, making them feel happy, comfortable and safe at last. Drawing the classroom blinds, and switching on the LED candles, Mrs Burnett asked the children to form a pathway of light, just as happened in the story. Jessie, Diyan and Sid did something similar at home, except that they used real diva lamps. Diyan put the tiny candles in important places around his house, including the dining room, his playroom and by the front door.

Taking the contrast of light and darkness a stage further, onto a more philosophical level, the children were encouraged to see the physical reality of darkness as a metaphor for unhappiness and, as in the Diwali story, for evil. Conversely, light can be equated with hope and optimism, which is very much the feeling we get when Rama returns home and becomes king.

These sentiments were conveyed in the children’s writing, in which they had to adopt the voice either of Rama or Sita, and describe their emotions and experiences on the journey home to their kingdom. Harry, writing as Rama, recorded that, ‘I went through some dark times and some light times.’ Lucas wrote about Rama and Sita’s surprise at seeing the diva lamps, going on to explain that they had to ask a stranger what they were for. Mrs Burnett was delighted with the children’s interesting and thoughtful writing. That’s definitely worth a celebration!