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If you enjoy vibrant colours, twinkling lights and delicious food, you are going to love our suggestions for a delightful Diwali!

Diwali is an important religious festival. Originating in India, it takes place every year and lasts for five days to mark the start of the Hindu New Year. Although it’s regarded as a Hindu festival, it’s also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains. Diwali takes place between October and November; the actual date changes every year.

Interesting facts about Diwali

  • The word Diwali (or Deepavali as it’s also called) comes from Sanskrit, which is an ancient language of India. Diwali means “row of lights”.
  • Leicester holds the largest Diwali celebrations – not only in the UK, but outside of India.
  • Rangoli is a popular Diwali tradition in which beautiful patterns are made using colourful powders and flowers. People draw rangoli on the floor by the entrance of their homes to welcome the gods and bring good luck.

During the festival, people decorate their homes with lights and oil lamps. For many people, Diwali honours Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth. The lights and lamps are said to help Lakshmi find her way into peoples’ homes, bringing prosperity for the new year.

Diwali is a time to have fun with friends and family. People exchange gifts and sweets, enjoy delicious feasts, watch firework displays and wear new clothes.

Activities for children with vision impairment

Make radiant rangoli

What you will need:

  • Rangoli pattern templates. Depending on your child’s level of vision, you could enlarge these, highlight the lines in bold or even follow the pattern with string to make it tactile
  • Plastic trays or baking trays
  • Baking paper
  • A selection of brightly coloured food colouring
  • Scents that complement or represent each colour - essential oils, spices or herbs for example

For each colour you will also need:

  • Two cups of uncooked plain rice
  • One tablespoon of white vinegar
  • A sealable sandwich bag

How to make radiant rangoli patterns:

  1. Put both cups of rice into a sealable sandwich bag.
  2. Add a tablespoon of vinegar, a few drops of one of the food colourings and a scent of your child’s choice. Remember that essential oils can be very strong - a little will go a long way.
  3. Encourage your child to tightly seal the sandwich bag and squash the rice inside so that it mixes with the vinegar, food colouring and scent. Your child may need help to make sure the rice is evenly coated.
  4. Guide your child to pour the rice in a thin layer onto a tray lined with baking paper. Allow to dry for an hour or two.
  5. Repeat the first four steps for each colour you want to use in the rangoli.
  6. Allow your child to explore the rangoli pattern template and talk about where the colours should go. Carefully sprinkle the different coloured rice between the lines to create beautiful patterns that can be enjoyed through sight, touch and scent.
  7. Once your child has completed their Rangoli, allow them to place it somewhere for everyone to enjoy.

General tips for making the most of craft activities with children with vision impairment:

Always check that any materials you use are non-toxic. No matter how careful you are, art supplies can end up in places they’re not supposed to – in the mouth or eyes, for example.

Dress your child in old clothes or provide an apron to wear while creating their masterpieces. Cover the table with newspaper or find a surface that can get messy. It’s harder to have fun if you’re constantly worried about drops, spills or stains.

Be imaginative when it comes to art supplies. Try to find objects that have interesting textures or scents. Use herbs and spices, such as cloves or cardamom pods which appeal to different senses.

Use descriptive language: as they touch glue, tell them that it is sticky, tacky, gummy and so on. Give your child a range of words they can use to describe things around them. A well-developed vocabulary is important for all children, but for a child who learns about their environment through touch, it’ll help them build a more complete and interesting understanding of the world as they grow.

Your child may need help finding art supplies and putting things together but try to step back once in a while and let them explore, locate and create things themselves. Art can be a great exploration motivator!

Make tasty, toasted coconut balls

Ladoo (or laddu) is a popular Indian sweet that can be made using different ingredients. These tasty, toasted treats are often shared at festivals such as Diwali.

What you will need:

  • 1 and a half cups or 120g desiccated coconut
  • A cup or 226ml of full fat coconut milk (use coconut cream for a fudgier ball)
  • A third of a cup or 67g of sugar (or use coconut sugar)
  • A pinch of salt
  • Choose a spice or flavour according to your own preference, for example:
  • One green cardamom pod, crushed (the traditional version); or
  • One tsp lemon zest; or
  • Half a tsp cinnamon; or
  • Half a tsp vanilla extract

How to make coconut ladoo:

  1. Using a clean, dry pan, toast the coconut over a low to medium heat for three to five minutes, until most of the coconut is golden. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Encourage your child to notice the difference in smell before and after the coconut is toasted.
  2. Add the coconut milk/cream and your chosen additional flavour and continue to cook for two minutes.
  3. Add the sugar and salt to the pan. Increase the heat to medium and cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture has completely absorbed the liquid and doesn’t leak any moisture when squeezed or pressed.
  4. Cool to room temperature, then shape into balls. Encourage your child to feel the different texture and roll the balls. Use a coloured chopping board or plate to help the sweets stand out against a different background.
  5. Tuck in and enjoy your tasty treats!

General tips for cooking with a child with vision impairment:

  • If using cups to measure ingredients, show your child how to check that the ingredients inside are level and explain that this is important to get an accurate measurement.
  • Try using a contrasting colour of cup or pan so that they can see more clearly what they are doing.
  • Encourage your child to smell each ingredient as you cook or bake and compare the smell before and after cooking.