Lesson: Diwali Dance


For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. Diwali or Divali is a contraction of the Sanskrit word Deepavali, that means “row of lamps”. Small clay lamps filled with oil are lighted to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps remain lit through the night and houses are cleaned to welcome the goddess Lakshmi. Firecrackers are burst to drive away evil spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes, and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. Diwali.

In some regions of the Indian subcontinent, is considered to be the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. In the eastern state of Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Mother Kali, the dark goddess of strength. Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God, the symbol of auspiciousness and wisdom, is worshiped in most Hindu homes on this day. For Jains, Deepavali has an added significance to the event of Lord Mahavira attaining nirvana. Diwali also commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita, his wife and Lakshman, his loyal brother, after a fourteen-year exile. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people lit up the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.


Click here to download a pdf of Manju’s Diwali dance lesson.

To hear Manju’s pronunciation, click here.

To view a performance by the Berkshire-Hudson Valley chapter, click here.

Manju Durairaj

Manju Durairaj was born and raised in India. She studied in Pune, India. She was involved in graduate research projects on comparative pedagogical practices of Indian (Carnatic) and Western Music at Middlesex University, London, UK. She graduated with her second master’s degree and K-12 certification from VanderCook College of Music, Chicago. Manju currently teaches JK-5 general music at the Latin School of Chicago. She is program chair and past president of the Greater Chicago Orff Chapter. She is an adjunct professor at VanderCook College of Music, Chicago. She is an AOSA approved Orff Schulwerk Level 1 instructor. She is SMART certified, Seesaw and Book Creator ambassador and Edpuzzle coach. Her continuing teaching education courses on campus and online, include early childhood, general music methods, curriculum design, technology, Orff Schulwerk, and assessment and standards. She was on the Diversity Commission of the American Orff Schulwerk Association and is on the Elementary General Music Council of IL Music Education Association. She is a frequent clinician at ISME, AOSA, OAKE, NAfME and various other state, national, and international conferences. She has been published in the Orff Echo, Reverberations, Illinois Music Educators Journal, General Music Today, and the Journal of the Council for Research in Music Education. Her publications with Hal Leonard include InterAct with Music Assessment Levels 1 and 2, InterAct Levels 1&2 Student Activities for Devices and Print, Technology in Today’s Music Classroom and Dancing Around the World with Music Express Magazine.

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  1. Lisa on October 24, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    My K-8 students do a cross-curricular unit every winter on world religions with the hopes that they will perform a song or dance from each religion during our winter concert. It is sometimes difficult to find authentic, respectful, musical material that is also singable/playable for children. Thank you so much for this!

  2. Nicole on October 24, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Do you by chance have a video link to show/share what the dance looks like?

    • Teaching With Orff on October 28, 2019 at 8:00 pm

      We have added a video link to the post!

  3. Melynda Morrone on October 24, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Manju,

    Do you have a recording of the dance and/or song? Thank you!

    • Teaching With Orff on October 28, 2019 at 8:00 pm

      We have added a video link to the post!

  4. Lisa Mandelstein on October 24, 2019 at 5:31 pm

    So excited for a new Diwali song! We sing your other song every year (Diwali, Diwali, Diwali, Diwali, Diwali, Diwali, Hey xx Oh Hey xx)

  5. BrendaRose Simkin on October 25, 2019 at 7:14 am

    Thank you for the pronunciation guide, but the words written for the second verse are not the same as what you say. Also, is there a video for the dance?

    • Teaching With Orff on October 28, 2019 at 8:00 pm

      We have added a video link to the post!

  6. Leslie Dooley on October 25, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Thanks for this nice lesson! I would love to see a video of students performing the dance.

    • Teaching With Orff on October 28, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      We have added a video link to the post!

  7. Sheila Cooper on October 25, 2019 at 8:55 am

    Is there a version of the song that can be downloaded? A video of the performance would be great, as well.

    • Teaching With Orff on October 28, 2019 at 8:02 pm

      We have added a video link to the post!

  8. Mary on October 25, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Would love the music or video to show the dance. Thanks for sharing!

    • Teaching With Orff on October 28, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      We have added a video link to the post!

  9. Michelle Edlund on October 26, 2019 at 9:46 am

    A video of the dance and a recording would be most helpful!

    • Teaching With Orff on October 28, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      We have added a video link to the post!

  10. Christy Gibson on October 26, 2019 at 10:18 pm

    I have several students/families at school from India; thank you for sharing this. Can a video and/or recording of the song be shared?

    • Teaching With Orff on October 28, 2019 at 8:02 pm

      We have added a video link to the post!

      • Esha on November 12, 2020 at 5:23 pm

        I like your dance and song thank you Manju and Happy Diwali!

  11. Manju Durairaj on October 27, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    Hi Everyone,

    A video will be posted shortly.. The Berkshire Hudson Valley Chapter did the song and dance on Saturday 26 October.

    • Teaching With Orff on October 28, 2019 at 8:01 pm

      Thank you, Manju! Happy Diwali!

  12. Paula Bryant on October 30, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    Thank you so much!!! I want to try this as we have many students at our small school who are from Nepal and celebrate Diwali.

  13. Page Martinez on January 13, 2020 at 8:36 am

    A parent recorded the second half of the text and granted permission for sharing the recording. Is there a way that I can post an audio file here?

  14. Javel Perriel on November 12, 2020 at 8:14 am

    This is amazing I have a segment in most of my lessons called ‘Cultural Celebration” and for my upcoming lesson I will definitely highlight this.

  15. Aalia Agned on November 12, 2020 at 6:43 pm

    Thank you so much!!

  16. Emy Vanderpool on November 15, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been looking everywhere for a respectful, authentic Diwali lesson for my first graders.

  17. Ines Emilia Ramirez on June 20, 2022 at 4:12 pm

    Hello Ms. Durairaj:
    Thank you very much for your teaching on Diwali music. I truly appreciate your explanations, pronunciation guidelines, and videos. I would like to know if you could share the Orff arrangement that is played in the video performed by the Berkshire-Hudson Valley chapter,
    Thanks in advance,
    Inés Ramírez

  18. Cheryl Baker on October 16, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    Any chance I could get the Orff arrangement for this dance? It is SO cool.

  19. Alice W on November 6, 2022 at 1:37 pm


    My students love singing this song and have been so curious about Diwali since I presented them this unit. I was wondering if you have / can guide me to where I can purchase an instrumental track for your song “Diwali Diwali” arranged by John Higgins featured on Music Express? I would love to include this in our upcoming December concert featuring different countries and cultures.

    Thank you!

  20. Liz Arcaro on November 9, 2022 at 12:39 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing. I would like to do this dance at a school presentation. I know there is a video link of the dance with the music. Is there any published recording of the song – or another song that would work well with the dance steps. At this presentation, I typically have recorded music with folk dances. Thanks for any additional info you can provide. :-). Thank you for your time.

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