BMPRSS students learn about Diwali through drama and dance
The Indian festival of Diwali was the focus of a recent assembly at the Bruno M. Ponterio Ridge Street School that showcased drama, song and dance.
The event literally had students and staff dancing in the aisles as they learned some fun steps to a Bollywood-style dance.
Prior to getting their groove on, students learned about the holiday, which this year will be celebrated on Nov. 12, through a play put on by students.
The word “Diwali,” students were told comes from two terms, “Deepa,” which means clay lamps and “avali,” which means in a row. Families who celebrate the holiday do so by lining up clay lamps outside of their homes, which symbolize darkness overcoming evil.
The holiday stems from the Indian story of Prince Rama of Ayodhya, which was acted out by students.
When Prince Rama was about to be crowned, it came out that his father had made two promises to his Queen, the stepmother of Rama. The promises included allowing her son to become king and for Rama to be exiled. Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana are forced to live in the forest where they face many challenges, including meeting the evil King Ravana who kidnaps Sita. The evil king is challenged by an eagle demigod, who is killed. Before dying, the bird tells Rama where Sita has been taken. The minister of the Monkey Kingdom, a wise old man, was instrumental in helping the prince and his brother get to where Sita was being held. A battle between Rama and Ravana ensues, with the prince being victorious. When he and his wife and brother return to their land, the people are so happy, they leave out rows of lanterns so the trio can find their way back to the palace.
“The life lessons of Rama’s journey teach us the value of obedience to elders, loyalty to friends and responsibility to humanity,” the plays narrators, fifth graders Reia B. and Bhoomi D. told the audience.
Following the play, the audience was treated to a song about Diwali, sung by several students who had presented the play.
It was then time for the dance party. Megha Kalia, from the NYC Bhangra taught students several Indian dance moves to the song “Jhumka.” The Blind Brook PTA funded Ms. Kalia's visit.
She showed students how to place their hands, where to put their feet and when to switch from one move to another, all while an upbeat song celebrating the dangling earrings women wear played.
Students laughed and danced right along with the instructor.
The assembly was brought to students through the efforts of parents who wanted to share their traditions with their children’s classmates.
Parent Ranjana K. said parents worked with students to develop the play and narrate the events that help explain how the significant holiday came into existence and why its celebrated.
Ranjana said she and other parents have visited individual classrooms to talk about Indian culture, but they wanted to find way to share with a wider audience.
“Putting on a play would be more far reaching,” she said. “They could perform an event for our kids to celebrate and be proud of their culture and identity.”