Diwali, derived from the Sanskrit word Deepavali (meaning row of lights), is one of the most celebrated Indian festivals. Hi, I am Mou Saha, and I still remember my anticipation for Diwali each year growing up in India. Two of the most fun components of Diwali are decorations and food. I’m going to show you how to turn yarn and craft foam into a beautiful torana or DIY marigold garland with mango leaves.
The History of Diwali
The myths of Diwali are as diverse as the Indian culture itself. While the North Indians celebrate the homecoming of Lord Rama from his 14-year exile during which he destroyed the demon king, Ravana, the South Indians celebrate Lord Krishna’s victory over Narakasura, another evil demon. The common essence, however, is the victory of good over evil. Another myth speaks of Goddess Lakshmi’s return after a century of churning the milky ocean marking a return to abundance and prosperity. Celebrated on the new moon on the 15th day of the Hindu lunar month of Kartika, Diwali is not just a festival for the Hindus – Sikhs and Jains also celebrate the Festival of Lights alongside many other countries and cultures around the world.
Diwali festivities last for five days. The first day is Dhanteras – a day of cleaning and decorating homes and businesses in preparation for Diwali. Day two is Naraka Chaturdasi when people take holy baths like Lord Krishna upon defeating Narakasura. Day three is Lakshmi Puja where people light up their homes to invite Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity. Merriment with feasts, fireworks and exchange of gifts, follow. Day four is for Govardhan Puja – this day marks the first day of the Hindu new year and is a special day to celebrate the love between husbands and wives. Rural and agricultural communities celebrate the day in honor of Lord Krishna (also known as Govardhan) who once saved the villages and crops from torrential rains. The fifth and final day is Bhai Duj when brothers and sisters celebrate their shared bond of love.
Throughout the holiday, toranas of marigolds and mango leaves are strung over doors, colorful rangolis are painted on floors, clay diyas or oil lamps are arranged all around and lit as the evening lights fade, and delicious food is cooked and shared with family, friends and foes alike in spirit of a new auspicious beginning.
A DIY marigold garland is a fun craft idea for the whole family. To make a torana, please gather the following supplies. You can create with children if you supervise the use of scissors, awls and needles.
Materials for DIY Marigold Garland (feel free to substitute with what you already have)
1 non-adhesive foam sheet – 8.5 x 11 inches, green (to make 10 leaves)
3 skeins of acrylic yarn – red/yellow gradient (to make 20 pompoms)
Pompom maker – small (to make about 2-inch pompoms)
Paper (for making leaf template)
Scissors (sharp, pointy)
Pencil (for tracing template)
Acrylic paint – Plaid Apple Barrel English Ivy Green (for painting leaf details)
Round paint brush # 4
Awl (for poking holes in the foam)
1 slender beading needle (for threading the garland)
Clear monofilament fishing line (for sewing the garland)
How to Make a Pom Pom Marigold Garland
- Make pompoms following the visual steps or follow your pompom maker’s instructions. You may need to give your pompoms a little haircut at the end with sharp scissors for a nice even finish. I made 20 of these. You can choose any number.
- Draw a mango leaf on paper. Cut it out with scissors to use as template. Trace the leaf with pencil onto foam. I cut out 10 leaves. You can decide how many you want. With acrylic paint, add the veins to the leaves. With an awl, carefully poke two holes at the top of each leaf.
- Thread the beading needle with fishing line. Make a loop on the end. Make several knots to keep the loop from slipping. Thread 1 flower (pompom), then 1 leaf, then 2 flowers, 1 leaf and continue till you finish the pattern with 1 flower in the end and then make another loop to close the garland.
Hang your Torana over the entryway or from a mantel or in any place that works well in your home.
Happy Diwali to you all!
Mou Saha is a mixed media artist living in Chester, New Jersey. You can find all of Mou’s Creativebug classes here.