Diwali celebrations

Schoolchildren have been creating colourful artwork ahead of Diwali, the festival of lights, next month ( 4 November 2021).

Artists Jayamini de Silva and Veena Soni, director of English as an Additional Language (EAL) and Diversity Solutions, showed youngsters at Cleves Cross Primary School in Ferryhill how to produce their very own rangoli art.

Made using brightly coloured powders, rangoli features beautiful patterns and is often created for Hindu celebrations, including Diwali, which starts on Thursday, 4 November.

The workshop is part of a special programme created by Durham County Council, the local Hindu community, Durham University international students and the arts agency GemArts to help children discover more about Hinduism.

It is also linked to County Durham’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025 and the new Durham Global Alliance, which aims to increase opportunities for children and young people to travel and learn about other cultures.

Cllr Watts Stelling, Chairman of Durham County Council, who attended the workshop, said: “It was wonderful to see the children so excited and inspired. Diwali is such a bright and uplifting festival and the artwork the children helped to create was so colourful, it really captured their imagination.

“Teaching children about cultures and religions different to their own is incredibly important as it promotes respect, friendship and understanding. That is why diversity and internationalism are key themes within our bid to be UK City of Culture 2025. We want to deliver even more programmes like this and show the world what a vibrant and welcoming place our county is.”

As well as the workshop, a special film was created last year showing Hindu families preparing for Diwali, as well as offering a glimpse inside a Hindu temple in Newcastle.

The film, Diwali – a very local celebration, has been made available to County Durham schools. Pupils can also put questions to Veena Soni during an online question and answer session on Wednesday 3 November.

In addition to this, the council’s international relations team has provided extra geography resources about India and Durham University is hosting events at the library and the Oriental Museum as part of the Durham Global Alliance.

To find out more about Durham Global Alliance, visit www.internationaldurham.com/

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