Hinduism is practiced by about 1.2 billion people worldwide and is the world's third largest religion. Hinduism is also the world's oldest active religion. While the exact dates are disputed, it's believed that the roots of Hinduism can be traced back 4,000 to 5,000 years ago! Today, people who practice Hinduism can be found throughout the world but it originated in India and Hindus make up 80-90% of India's population today. Hinduism has fascinating customs, festive holidays, and wise teachings about the individual and the universe.
Have students describe and illustrate various holidays celebrated in Hinduism and their importance to the religion.
DIWALI / DIVALI
Navratri means “nine nights” in Sanskrit. It is the celebration of fertility and the harvest. It honors Durga, the Hindu mother goddess. Navratri is on the first new moon in early autumn, usually in September or October. There are also four other Navratri celebrations during the year. The celebrations and ceremonies include colorful clothing, dancing, fasting, and rituals.
Diwali is the five-day Festival of Lights and is a festival of new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, fortune, luxury, and prosperity is believed to visit and bless each house on Diwali eve. Diwali is also connected to the story of Rama and Sita from the ancient text Ramayana.
Holi is also known as the "Festival of Love", the "Festival of Colors", and the "Festival of Spring". It is usually held in March and signifies the end of winter and the beginning of spring, as well as honoring the triumph of good over evil. Revelers throw bright colorful powders called gulal, light bonfires, eat sweets, and dance to traditional music.