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Schoolchildren learn more about Diwali through new films

Published November 16, 2020 2.08pm

Schoolchildren in County Durham have been learning more about how the religious celebration Diwali is marked in the North East as part of International Education Week.

A series of films, which have been commissioned by our International Office, have been shown to youngsters about how the historic festival is celebrated in the region and its significance in the Hindu calendar.

Festival of lights 

Diwali is the Indian festival of lights, usually lasting five days and celebrated during the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika (between mid-October and mid-November).

A film maker had exclusive access to a Hindu temple in the North East and spoke with the priest and members of the community. He also filmed in two homes and spoke with Hindu students at Durham University about Diwali celebrations in India and in the North East.

All filming was compliant with current social distancing restrictions.

Recognising different cultures and faiths 

Cllr Carl Marshall, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: "It's important for pupils to recognise the different cultures and faiths in their communities, which is why our International Office has decided to produce these informative films all about Diwali.

"Diwali is a special time of year for millions of people around the world. We hope that all of our schoolchildren have enjoyed the programme of events as part of this year's celebration and learned more about the festivities."

Diwali was celebrated from Thursday 12 - Monday 16 November this year.


A still from the film showing Pandit Ji Bal Krishan Gautam, of Newcastle Hindu Temple

Online events

As well as viewing the films, pupils and their teachers were able to put questions to a member of the Hindu community during a special online event on Friday 13 November.

Working with local multicultural arts agency GemArts, three further workshop videos have also been produced which have been shared with over 40 County Durham schools.

The videos told a traditional Diwali story, explained how children could create their own puppet version of the story and led them in an energetic South Asian dance class to conclude the programme of events.

The programme complemented the International Office team's work around intercultural learning; an important element of young people's development.

The films are being shared with County Durham schools and viewed between 12 and 20 November.

International Education Week in the UK began on Monday 16 November.

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