Lighting the Way to Diwali
The most important of all Hindu festivals, Diwali is known as the "Festival of Lights". This multi-day festival, whose name literally means "row of lighted lamps", is celebrated during the Hindu month of Kartika. (October or November on the Western calendar)
For five days, homes are illuminated in the glow of dazzling lights -- from modest oil lamps and candles to spectacular fireworks.
And since the holiday is known as "festival of lights" it follows that "diyas" or clay lamps are an integral part of the occasion and every Hindu household will have "diyas" lighting up their homes during the holiday.
A "diya" is basically a small earthen lamp which is filled with oil as fuel, and cotton wool is used as the wick. Diyas are lit in large numbers across the house and make a pretty picture in the evening.
Although plain clay "diyas" are easily available, a few embellishments make them more decorative and one can do the decoration at home with very few ingredients. Here is an easy and fun project for decorating your own diyas. And its simple and easy enough for children as well.
Earthen lamps: as many as required
Acrylic colors or poster colors
Small decorative glass pieces (these come in round, oval, diamond shapes and are easily available in craft shops)
Zari (glittering ribbon) borders
1. First rinse the "diyas" to clean them of any debris and then dry them thoroughly. They can now be painted with bright acrylic or poster colors in any design. The entire "diya" may be painted or only some portions of it. Various shades of a single color may also be used. The edges can be decorated with strips of "zari".
2. Another option is to stick the decorative mirror pieces on the sides and edges of the "diyas" or the entire diya can be covered with tiny mirror pieces. Once the lamps are lit, the flames are reflected in the mirror work making the "diyas" look very pretty.
3. Ceramic clay can also be molded in various shapes like flowers etc. and stuck to the diyas at corners before the clay dries up. The "diya" can then be painted with acrylic colors.
Note: Some of the earthen "diyas" can be placed in the center of silver or any other metallic bowls and surrounded with fresh flowers. These make very pretty centerpieces for tables.
Here are some samples of colorful Diyas
photo credit: via flick
photo credit: via flickr
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