Diwali, also called Deepavali or Divali, is a festival that is significant in Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is known as the "Festival of Lights," and celebrates the victory of good over evil.
In Deepak’s Diwali, it is the eve of Diwali, and Deepak’s grandmother tells him the story of the demon king Ravana who steals the god Rama’s wife, Sita. Deepak spends the first half of the story worried that Ravana is following him, but soon gets into the spirit of the holiday.
This contemporary story explains how the festival is celebrated with sparklers and lights, prayer, and feasting. It mentions the beautiful Rangoli Patterns, which Deepak and his mother create on their doorstep to welcome their visitors, and describes all kinds of delicious foods and treats. The story portrays this holiday as a wonderful family celebration.
Doreen Lang’s illustrations are vibrant and bold. They show Deepak and his friends and family both in everyday clothes as well as dressed in their lovely saris and traditional costumes. The gods described in the legends are depicted beautifully. The illustrations also show diversity as Deepak’s best friend, who is Caucasian, and Deepak’s disabled cousin, who uses a wheelchair, share in all the festivities.
Deepak’s Diwaliis a beautiful introduction of Diwali for children who may not be familiar with the holiday. For those children who do celebrate Diwali, it is a lovely depiction of the celebration. As a bonus, in the back of the book, there are recipes for mango lassi and halwa pudding, as well as some Rangoli patterns.
Review by Maureen Pugh
From September 2009 issue of Culture Connection Newsletter