Celebrating Diwali

OCTOBER 28, 2022

On the morning of October 20, Lower School students gathered in assembly to learn about Diwali from peers who celebrate the holiday in each division. To kick off the assembly, Assistant Head of School for Diversity and Equity Johara Sealy shared that this school year is the first year Nightingale is closed for the day of Diwali, which was observed on October 24. Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, marks the Hindu new year and celebrates the triumph of light of darkness and good over evil.

Five Upper School students took turns reading pages from a picture book Shubh Diwali! by Chitra Soundar. Next, two Lower School students shared how they celebrate the holiday with their families.

“My favorite Diwali tradition is doing rangoli because I love using all the materials,” Shamini R. ’32 said. Diwali is a meaningful holiday to me because I get to spend time with my family.”

“In my family, we celebrate Diwali by dressing up and saying prayers,” Spriha G. ’31 shared. “The religious part of Diwali is very important to my family. We also all pitch in to make a big dinner. This is a holiday that we celebrate more with family than with friends.”

Next, Maya B. ’27, Arya K. ’26, Diya A. ’23, Jiya K. ’24, Mira S. ’25, and Ria D. ’24 also shared how they celebrate Diwali at home.

“It’s usually a time to appreciate the people in your life,” Diya said. “I think it’s really great and important that this is the first year that Nightingale is recognizing Diwali as a holiday and it's a real privilege to have that.”

“In my house, we usually light candles in every room,” Jiya K. ’24 said. “We get to wear all of our Indian clothes and spend time with family. It’s a really special time for us.”

Following their presentations, Lower School Librarian and Equity Coordinator Megan Westman asked each Upper School student what their “why” was for volunteering to share their family traditions with Lower School.

“I really wanted to share my culture with all of you and maybe connect with those that also celebrate this holiday,” Mira S. ’25 explained. “I know how important it is to see other people who celebrate the same things and for your friends to also understand what we’re going to do on Monday.”

After the older students made their way back to class, Ms. Westman asked Lower School a few connection questions like “How do you celebrate this day with your family,” “Do you have any special memories or traditions you’d like to share,” and “Why is this day meaningful to you?” Lower School students shouted out their answers.

Before concluding the assembly, students and ProCom learned a few moves and danced along to the song “Gallan Goodiyaan.”

Following the assembly, Kindergarten students created diyas with white Model Magic. First they colored the squishy clay with markers and then hand-mixed the colors, folding them in to create beautiful swirls. Once their pinch pots were formed, students were given additional colors to decorate the outside of the diyas. During this activity, Kindergarten students worked on fine motor skills and explored creative choices, while learning about Diwali.

Middle School students also had the opportunity to learn more about Diwali through an activity planned by the Middle School Inclusivity Board. Students in Class V were paired with students in Class VII and students in Class VI were paired with students in Class VIII to paint diyas. The Inclusivity Board co-heads from each grade also shared a slideshow in homeroom that morning with more information about Diwali, including why and how it is celebrated and the importance of lighting candles during the holiday.

For Class VIII Inclusivity Board Co-Head Maya B. ’27, who celebrates Diwali with her family, proposing this idea and seeing it carried out in the Middle School was incredibly rewarding. “It was important for me to host this event because in New York City and within our schools we have so many cultures. I wanted to feel my culture represented. To see people excited about something I worked on and that was focused on my culture made me proud. It was one of the most important moments of my life and part of the reason Nightingale means so much to me.”

Class VIII Inclusivity Board Co-Head Lucy W. ’27 shared, “It is important for me to serve on the Inclusivity Board because I like bringing everyone together and making everyone feel like they are part of our community. I also want to do it because I want everyone's cultures to be represented and celebrated, and I am able to do that in this position.”