Ten Harvard students from across the University, along with SAI Associate Director, Meena Hewett, and SAI Program Coordinator, Nora Maginn, spent Sunday, October 28 at the Boston Children’s Museum celebrating Diwali with the community. Children were invited to participate in various activities led by the student volunteers, including making a crown for Sita and Rama, whose homecoming and coronation is remembered each year by the lighting of lamps in observation of Diwali. Other activities included crafting a diya from egg cartons and aluminum foil, creating a rangoli using chalk, and exploring the flavors of Indian spices. There was also an opportunity for children to try on saris.
The students were encouraged to share Diwali stories and traditions with the visiting families and children. The Boston Children’s Museum and visitors were grateful to have the experience of students who celebrate Diwali with their families in South Asia and here in the United States.
At the rangoli station, Erum Sattar, Harvard Law School doctoral student, engaged a young visitor in a conversation about his rangoli, which involved exploding rocks. Erum explained that rangoli is recognized as a symbol of welcome and placed outside the entrance to the home. On Diwali, rangoli are used to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and purity. Upon learning this story, and deciding that exploding rocks would only welcome firefighters to one’s home, our young friend happily added some flowers to his exploding rocks, and went on his way to the explore the other Diwali activities.