Diwali: Festival of Lights

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights with variations in other Indian religions. Diwali symbolizes the spiritual triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. Diwali is celebrated across India with variations across the region. It is also celebrated and enjoyed by non-Hindu communities such as Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists. Diwali is one of the largest and most important festivals that takes place over five days. The name the Festival of Lights is given due to the celebrants illuminating their home, temple, and workspaces with candles, lanterns, or oil lamps which serves to symbolize the inner light that defends against the darkness. This year Diwali takes place on Sunday, November 12, 2023. Throughout this blog we highlight the celebration of Diwali and introduce readers to picture books that feature Diwali and Hinduism culture at the forefront. Within these picture books you will find a range of topics from recipes customary during Diwali, craft ideas, family traditions, to the quintessential child going through Diwali preparations.

Eliot, Hannah
Illustrated by: Sreenivasan, Archana
Diwali. 2018 (Picture Book)
In this colorful board book, a part of the Celebrate the World series Eliot focuses on Diwali. A perfect book for preschool and up that delves into the tradition and origins of the holiday and the festival’s importance. With colorful artwork it is sure to be a hit with introducing the holiday to all ages.
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Gilmore, Rachna
Illustrated by: Priestley, Alice
Lights for Gita. 1994 (Picture Book)
When Gita, the protagonist of this picture book, immigrates from her native home of New Delhi, India to the West, she looks forward to celebrating Diwali in her new home and enjoying the fireworks despite the gloominess of the weather in November. However, as Gita prepares for the holiday the weather has other plans through freezing rain. Her papa must postpone the fireworks, and friends cancel their visit due to the weather. Feeling dejected, Gita remembers the fond memories she has of Diwali in her native country in comparison to her celebration now in a foreign country. With the guidance of her mother and when all is going awry, Gita finds a new perspective in Diwali when, with the light from the lamps, she realizes Diwali can brighten up even the worst days.
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LaRocca, Rajani
Illustrated by: Sreenivasan, Archana
Where Three Oceans Meet. 2021 (Picture Book)
Although this picture book does not exclusively focus on Diwali it is a heartwarming story on intergenerational bonding and love. In this story three characters Sejal, Mommy, and Patil, Sejal’s grandmother, go on a trip to the southern tip of India where they share meals, bond, visit friends, and visit the markets. Each character carries a unique experience when visiting their native country. For Patil, Sejal’s grandmother, she is re-visiting sites she is familiar with, for mommy she is returning to the place she grew up, and for Sejal she is experiencing it for the first time and discovering where she comes from. As the family makes their way to Kanyakumari, where three oceans meet, the book highlights the beauty of India and the celebration of family and the enduring love we have for one another.
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MacMillan, Dianne M
Diwali: Hindu Festival of Lights. 1997 (Picture Book)
A part of the Best Holiday Book series, MacMillan explores Diwali, focusing on the history, traditions, and celebrations surrounding the holiday. Additionally, in this book it retells the stories told during the holiday about Rama’s return after the long exile and Krishna’s defeat over the evil Narakasura.
S.294.536 M228d

Mathur, Sanyukta
Illustrated by: Pippin-Mathur, Courtney
Happy Diwali! 2021 (Picture Book)
In this radiant tale of Diwali this story follows a little girl from dawn to dusk as she prepares for the celebration of Diwali through drawing rangolis, welcoming guests, helping to prepare the food, dressing up in colorful clothing, participating in the Puja, and lighting the diyas (lamps) in honor of Diwali. The strength in this picture book lies in its ability to recognize the diversity and variations that families may have when observing the holiday and how Hindu families of all diverse kinds of backgrounds celebrate the festival.
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Mirchandani, Raakhee
Illustrated by: Kelkar, Supriya
My Diwali Light. 2022 (Picture Book)
In this Diwali story it follows Devi as she prepares to celebrate her favorite holiday. It is a special time where she can wear her red bindi, eat samosas, and celebrate with her loved ones. From making mithai, designing rangolis, and painting diyas, Devi and her family share their Diwali traditions through radiant illustrations. It shines a light on how Diwali is celebrated in so many ways from family to family!
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Pandya, Meenal
Here Comes Diwali: The Festival of Lights. 2001 (Picture Book)
Meenal Pandya uncovers the traditions and origins of Diwali through the eyes of a Hindu child. What separates this picture book is the stand-out crafts and food recipes it shares with the reader, along with suggestions on how to celebrate the special holiday with loved ones.
S.294.536 P192h

Ruths, Mitali Banerjee
Illustrated by: Singh, Parwinder
Archie Celebrates Diwali. 2021 (Picture Book).
Archana, otherwise known as Archie, loves Diwali and her family’s annual party in celebration of the holiday. This year is different, she can invite all her friends from school and share the holiday festivities. However, as Archie prepares for the holiday through food preparations and decorations, crisis strikes as the party just begins and a thunderstorm knocks out the electricity from the house and drenches all the outside decorations. Archie begins to feel that everything is ruined, and the celebration will not be the same due to the storm. Follow Archie in a beautiful tale that touches on themes of friendship and trying to fit in during Diwali.
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Singh, Rina
Diwali: Festival of Lights. 2016 (Picture Book)
Diwali is recognized by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs where each celebrate the stories, legends, and symbolism of the holiday in which good triumphs over evil. Rina Singh explores her Indian roots through stories surrounding Diwali. Diwali: Festival of Lights shares insight into personal accounts of the Diwali traditions from stories to sharing the festive recipes known during the holiday. It takes the reader on a journey of how Diwali is celebrated throughout the world.
S.294.536 Si646d

Umrigar, Thrity N
Illustrated by: Chanani, Nidhi
Binny’s Diwali. 2020 (Picture Book)
Binny’s class is learning about different holiday traditions and each classmate is sharing their own holiday traditions. Follow Binny as she embarks on her day when she is going to share Diwali, the festival of lights. Although she is excited to share her favorite holiday, she is also nervous but as she finds her confidence, she begins to share the beautiful fireworks displayed throughout Diwali, the delicious pedas and jalebis, and the clay lamps, diyas, that light up and make all the children stunned by their beauty. Binny’s Diwali features a heartwarming story that encapsulates the spirit of Diwali from the dazzling illustrations by Nidhi Chanani to capturing the essence of what it means to be Hindu and celebrating a beloved holiday.
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