I recently celebrated yet another birthday, and right on cue, fuddy-duddy thoughts entered my head and started painting a halo on top of old memories. Nostalgia made itself heard even though children were testing their vocal chords’ ranges in the background, and I sighed for quieter days when the school holidays were not on. Then guilt entered the discussion, reminding me that Deepavali this year is coinciding happily with the school break, and nagged me about raising children aware of their culture in a foreign land.*
Luckily, my memories came to rescue me from this self-conversation. In particular, I remembered a Diwali of decades past, when we didn’t buy candles from the store but made diyas – Deepavali lamps – at home. Bingo! I set out to recreate the experience with my children, and what followed was messy fun that will definitely light up a memory every Diwali to come! Lights are the essence of Diwali, and this is the perfect activity to involve your children in.
Here’s what you need:
* Atta / flour (I simply used the dough I use to make chapattis, as it always at hand in my house)
Knead the dough, making sure it doesn’t get too wet. Then treat it like playdough and shape it into diyas. Size as you please; if you plan to place tea-lights in them (instead of traditional oil and wicks), they will need to be bigger.
* Conventional Oven
Put the soft diyas in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius / 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Baking will take at least 30 minutes; thereafter, check the color, aiming for dark brown. Check with a tooth pick before removing – the picks will probably pierce through even when diyas are done – but there should be resistance when you prick.
Let cool before painting. I used washable paints as very young kids were involved. But brighter acrylics, glitter paints and a non-flammable top coat should help you create much lovelier results!
*I’m an Indian in Singapore. Deepavali (or Diwali), my country’s most popular Hindu festival, is a public holiday in Singapore as well (a nod to its significant Hindu citizenry).
Deepavali Cards: All you need is love… and glue !