FESTIVAL FUN Cooper, Hayley, Miss Mariam, Aarvik and Annabelle celebrate Diwali at Natural Wonders Early Learning Centre.
FESTIVAL FUN Cooper, Hayley, Miss Mariam, Aarvik and Annabelle celebrate Diwali at Natural Wonders Early Learning Centre. Jann Houley

Children light up and learn from different cultures

CHILDREN in Rockhampton have begun their Diwali festivities.

Diwali is a Hindu festival of lights during which people decorate their homes with lights and oil lamps.

It is a national holiday in countries such as Fiji, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore and Sri Lanka.

For new Australians, Diwali represents a new start, the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.

Since it opened two years ago, the Natural Wonders Early Learning Centre on Frenchville Rd has packed its children's days with a range of civic and cultural awareness activities.

"We work hard to bring the community together," said centre director Mary White.

"We want the children and their families to feel at home and feel welcome."

Family members brought traditional Diwali fare including kidney bean curry (rajma) and sticky, sweet dumplings (gulab jamum) for the children and staff to enjoy.

Five year old Aarvik, whose parents come from India, delighted his classmates when he taught them a Bollywood style dance number.

In the toddler room, Miss Mariam introduced the youngsters to rangoli, an art form which creates colourful patterns on the floor using coloured rice, sand or flower petals.

Miss Mariam, who hails from Pakistan and recently received her Australian citizenship, posted Diwali greetings on her Facebook page for friends around the world.

"It is not part of my religion but it's important to share in our lovely traditions," she said.

In the past month alone, Natural Wonders Learning has celebrated Diwali, Halloween and Childrens' Week; raised breast cancer awareness; supported deaf kids; been visited by the Tooth Fairy from 1300 Smiles and the fruit and vegetable puppets during Nutrition Week; and commemorated Grandparents Day and Day for Daniel.



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