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7 fun ways to celebrate Diwali with kids

Kid-friendly activities for the Indian festival of lights

Colorful background with people celebrating diwali Credit: Parvati Pillai

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Diwali, or Deepavali, is one of the most important Hindu festivals and is celebrated all over India. It gets its name from the tradition of lighting up a row (avali) of clay lamps or diyas (deepa) outside homes to symbolize good conquering evil, and lightness overcoming darkness. The dates of Diwali vary year by year according to the lunar calendar but in 2021 the celebrations begin on Nov. 2—a new moon day—and go through Nov. 6, lasting a total of five days.

Each day of Diwali is celebrated differently, from cleaning your house to building colored designs called rangolis, to my favorite part, eating a grand meal filled with traditional Indian sweets. The main part though is getting to enjoy this sacred holiday with your friends and family.

Here are seven enjoyable ways to celebrate the festival of lights with kids.

1. Read stories about the legend of Diwali

Book cover with indian god and goddess on it
Credit: Jay Anika

Read this beloved bedtime story to your kids during Diwali.

Diwali's legend follows the story of Lord Rama, who (with the help of Hanuman’s monkey army) saves his wife, Sita, from the demon king, Ravana, and returns to his hometown after 14 years in exile. To welcome their beloved lord back home, Indian villagers lit diyas along their journey. You can pick up a children’s book that tells the full story of Lord Rama’s victory (known as the Ramayana) in a simplified version for your young ones. This particular book is perfect for kids aged 3 to 7, and has beautiful illustrations and easy-to-understand language.

Get The Story of Diwali: Rama & Sita at Amazon for $9.99

2. Decorate your home with rangolis

On the left: a stencil of a lotus flower. On the right: 5 piles of sand in different colors.
Credit: Augshy/3 otters

You and your young ones can make all sorts of fun rangoli designs with these items.

Rangoli art is said to be a harbinger of good luck and is usually made using colored sand, rice, flowers, and paint in artful designs. Creating these beautiful masterpieces can be a fun activity to do with little ones, especially if you buy some stencils to help them out. To get you started we’ve listed out some colored sand, available in 10 shades so your kids can create all the fun designs they want, and some top-rated stencils if they need help accessing their creative side.

3. Paint clay diyas to light up across your home

Clay pots with paint and paint brushes
Credit: OTBhandmade

Paint these clay diyas with your loved ones and light them up in time for the festival.

While you and your loved ones can make clay diyas from scratch, it might be easier to shop for ready-made diyas and then paint them at home. These include paint, stencils, and stones for decoration, making it the perfect Diwali activity to enjoy with your kids. They don’t include cotton wicks though, so you'll need to purchase them separately. If you’re worried about your kid burning their fingers, you can also use these clay pots as holders for artificial candles.

4. Prepare sweets together

plate of indian sweets
Credit: Getty/Arundhati Sathe

There's hundreds of different Indian sweets to choose from.

If you go to a bakery in India during Diwali you’ll see all sorts of Indian confections like laddoos, barfis, and more in various different colors and flavors flying off the shelves. You might be able to find some of these delectable treats at your local Indian grocery store but it’s far more exciting to try to prepare these sweets yourself. This site includes hundreds of recipes and some of them, like the coconut barfi, can be easily made by beginners—it only has three main ingredients!

If you’re looking to make a grand meal for Diwali and want a fun activity to do with your older kids, consider subscribing to MasterClass to learn the arts of Indian cooking by Madhur Jaffrey. This particular class teaches you everything from curries to a delicious and aromatic biryani—the perfect dinner for your entire family.

Get Masterclass for $15/Month

5. Buy new clothes

parents shopping with kids
Credit: Getty/LiudmylaSupynska

Parents usually gift new clothes to their kids during Diwali.

Since Diwali also signifies the start of the Hindu new year, it is considered auspicious to wear new clothing while celebrating the festival. Whether that’s traditional garb or a pair of fun pajamas, parents can choose what they want to present their young ones. For example, these adorable dresses come in tons of different shades and designs and feature a 4.6-star rating from nearly 23,000 Amazon shoppers. You can even opt for something more traditional like this teal blue salwar suit for older kids. Little boys will also love this beige/maroon or beige/blue suit, perfect for that at-home Diwali dinner you've been planning with your extended family.

6. Light sparklers

firework shaped twinkling lights in backyard
Credit: Anordsem

Decorate your backyard with these gorgeous twinkling lights.

Many people celebrate Diwali by lighting the sky with fireworks. Though those might not be the most kid-friendly (or neighborhood-friendly), you can opt to purchase some sparklers for the older kids.

If you’re still worried about your kids hurting themselves while lighting sparklers, decorate your yard or balcony with these solar-powered firework-shaped lights. They have nearly 1,700 Amazon ratings and even twinkle! What’s more, you can even reuse them for the upcoming holiday season.

Get the Anordsem Solar Garden Lights at Amazon for $19.99

7. Paint and light lanterns

craft kit filled with sequins, stones and more on white background
Credit: Kid Made

This craft kit has all the needed decorations to take your paper lantenrs to the next level.

If you’re looking for more fun crafting activities to do with your kids, consider decorating your home with DIY paper lanterns. Most of the items needed to make these (paper, glue, scissors, ruler) are easily available in most homes so you won’t have to worry about shopping for any additional materials. That said, if your kid wants to add a little something extra to their DIY lanterns, buy them this decorating set. It’s got everything from stick-on jewels, sequins, and more to take their at-home lantern over the top.

Get the Kid Made Modern Arts and Crafts Supply Library at Amazon for $38.95

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