Learning through celebration: Day of the Dead and Diwali

The week of November 1st to 5th saw Senior School students take part in celebrations that allowed them to learn about and experience different cultures first-hand.

November 1st and 2nd, students were able to peruse altars displayed in Cirne Commons to mark the Day of the Dead (Día de los muertos), which is an important celebration for many Mexican and Central American families. Each year, on November 1st and 2nd, families welcome the spirits of the dead home for a joyful visit. It is a happy time to visit with those we have lost. While many people associate the Day of the Dead with Halloween, the two occasions are not related. Instead, Día de los muertos has its roots in the intertwining of the pre-Colombian Indian Cult of the Dead and 16th century Spanish Catholic influences brought to Mexico at the time of the conquest.

The altars (ofrenda) were bright and colourful, containing candles and food, such as the vivid “bread of the dead” (pan de muerto), as well as paper flowers (flor de muerto or cempasúchitl), paper banners (papel picado), skeleton figures (calaca) and sugar skulls (calavera). Three specific displays honoured notable people: the artists Frida Kahlo and Salvador Dalí, and former TCS teacher N. Bruce Grandfield ’70.

On Thursday, November 4th, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and many Buddists, from around the world, celebrated Diwali, the festival of light that symbolizes spiritual light over darkness and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Aspects of the celebration include going to temple, eating traditional Indian food, wearing colourful traditional clothing and lighting diyas (oil lamps) around the home. At TCS, students were encouraged to wear bright or light coloured clothing during the first Themed Thursday dress down day of the school year.

Then, the following day, a rangoli competition was held in the languages & culture classrooms. Rangoli are bright designs that would usually be created on the floor using coloured sand. However, the students were able to use a number of media to create their artwork, from digital designs to paint. In addition to prizes for the contest winners, all participants had the chance to sample some Indian sweets.

Thank you to all of the students and staff who worked to share their cultures with the student body this week. It was a wonderful chance to learn and to celebrate together!