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Great Ways to Celebrate Diwali in New Jersey with Kids and Teens

I was born in India and I moved to the United States when I was three. The two main Indian festivals I always looked forward to as a kid were Holi and Diwali. This year, Diwali falls on Monday, October 24th and there are many ways to celebrate Diwali in New Jersey with kids and teens. Whether you celebrate at home, in your community, or across New Jersey you’ll find there are many Diwali activities you can do.

What is Diwali?

Ever wonder why people have Christmas lights out in October? They may be celebrating Diwali.

Diwali is one of the biggest holidays in India and is also known as the Festival of Lights. One memory I have of when I was young in India is being amazed at the sparkler I was holding in my hand.

Woman celebrating diwali festival with sparklers

Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over darkness. Lighting diyas is a major part of the festivities since they represent the dispensing of darkness. Many people light diyas in their windows or have lights on their homes to welcome the goddess Lakshmi to their homes. People hope she will bless them with wealth (not just the monetary kind) since she is the goddess of wealth and good fortune.

People also worship Ganesh (a god of wisdom) in hopes that he will remove obstacles from their path.

female holding diva on diwali festival

When is Diwali?

This year Diwali falls on October 24th, 2022. Depending on the family, some people may celebrate for more time such as 2 days or 5 days.

Pre lit diyas

Where is Diwali celebrated?

People all over the world celebrate Diwali, There are over ninety different countries that honor the holiday. Celebrations may vary depending on what region people are from or based on their religion.

beautiful indian woman holding diya thali for Diwali celebration in New Jersey

Many people in New Jersey are celebrating it as well with friends, family, and neighbors. There are currently 23 school districts across the state that have off for Diwali.

What are the origins of Diwali?

For those who love epics, the Ramayana is an Indian classic that I have reread many times. During the Ramayana, the god Rama was exiled for 14 years along with his wife Sita. During this time she is captured by the demon king Ravana.

Rama is eventually able to defeat him and return with her to Ayodhya at the end of the 14 years where everyone welcomes them in the village by lighting diyas. These are small oil lamps made of clay or mud. Many Indians celebrate Diwali in order to celebrate Rama’s return to Ayodhya.

Indian Festival Diwali , Laxmi Pooja

How can my family celebrate Diwali?

There are many things people use to celebrate Diwali such as lighting a diya, rangoli, sparklers, preparing feasts, and more. Listed in this article are events and ways to celebrate Diwali in New Jersey with your family and friends. There are also other ideas for celebrating inside and outside of your home such as crafts, books and more. 

child coloring Diwali coloring pages

Eating sweets is another part of Celebrate Diwali in New Jersey. I personally think this makes sense since there are many stories of young Ganesh having a sweet tooth. Last year the kids had a great time giving sweets to neighbors, doing sparklers, and setting off small fireworks with them.

A variety of sweet cakes eaten during the Indian celebration of Diwali

Great Ways to Celebrate Diwali in New Jersey with Kids and Teens

Great Ways to Celebrate Diwali in New Jersey with Kids and Teens main image

Diwali Events in New Jersey

These NJ Diwali events are listed alphabetically by the name of the town where they will be held.

India Day Parade in Atlantic City, NJ

  • Date: September 24, 2022
  • Time: 3 pm
  • Location: Showboat AC
  • To learn more visit our event listing.

Diwali Festival in Cherry Hill, NJ

  • Date: October 22, 2022
  • Time: 2 to 4 pm
  • Location: Cherry Hill Library
  • There will be dancing, music, lights and crafts.
  • To learn more visit this event listing.

Make chocolate sparklers for Diwali in East Windsor, NJ

  • Date: October 17, 2022
  • Time: 4:30 pm to 5:15 pm
  • Location: Hickory Corner Library
  • Registration is required for this event but it is not open until October 10th. It is for ages 5 years old to 10 years old.
  • To learn more visit this event listing.
The burning sparklers diwali festival. Celebrating Diwali in New Jersey

Decorate Rangoli cookies for Diwali in East Windsor, NJ

  • Date: October 17, 2022
  • Time: 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
  • Location: Hickory Corner Library
  • Registration is required for this event but it is not open until October 10th. It is for ages 10 years old and older.
  • To learn more visit this event listing.

Festival of Lights – Diwali in East Brunswick, NJ

  • Date: October 15, 2022
  • Time: 1 pm to 6 pm
  • Location: East Brunswick Cultural Arts Center
  • There will be dances, raffles, vendors, performances, and more. Admission is free.
  • To learn more visit this event listing.

Diwali Celebration in Edison, NJ

  • Date: October 22, 2022
  • Time: 12 pm – 8 pm
  • Location: Papaianni Park in Edison
  • Mayor Sam Joshi and the Township of Edison invite you to a Diwali Celebration in Papaianni Park in Edison complete with food, music, and diya lighting.
  • To learn more visit our event listing.
Great Ways to Celebrate Diwali in New Jersey with Kids and Teens images

Diwali Masti in Edison, NJ

  • Date: October 29, 2022
  • Time: Doors open at 7 pm
  • Location: E-Hotel
  • There will be a photo booth, DJ, rangoli competition, cash bar, and more. Entry is $45 per person.
  • To learn more visit this event listing.

Festival of Lights – Diwali in Jersey City, NJ

  • Date: October 9, 2022
  • Time: noon to 6 pm 
  • Location: 911 Memorial, Exchange Place
  • There will be vendors, dances, raffles, and more. Admission is free.
  • To learn more visit our event listing.

Dilwalo ki Diwali Family Friendly Cruise Party in Jersey City, NJ

  • Date: October 22, 2022
  • Time: 7 pm to 10 pm
  • Location: Liberty Landing Marina
  • There will be a DJ, performers, four-course Indian meal, photo booth and more. There will be a separate kids’ deck with an attendant, kids’ meal and entertainment. Tickets are $65 for adults and $45 for kids.
  • To learn more visit this event listing.
Family Holding a Sky Lantern

Diwali Fest in Maplewood, NJ

  • Date: October 16, 2022
  • Time: 4 pm to 7 pm
  • Location: Maplewood Memorial Park -Amphitheatre
  • Diwali Fest NJ 2022 promises family fun with food, dance, music & children’s activities. Admission is free.
  • To learn more visit our event listing.

Diwali Crafts Program in Moorestown, NJ

  • Date: October 20, 2022
  • Time: 4:15 to 5 pm
  • Location: Moorestown Library
  • There will be diya painting and a Rangoli craft.
  • To learn more visit this event listing.

Diwali Party in Robbinsville, NJ

  • Date: October 25, 2022
  • Time: 3 pm to 3:45 pm
  • Location: Robbinsville Library
  • Children over 5 and adults are all invited to this party. Registration is required as well but does not open until October 18th.
  • To learn more visit this event listing.
close up shot of female lighting a diya for Diwali

Diwali Mela in Secaucus, NJ

  • Date: October 9, 2022
  • Time: Noon onwards
  • Location: Moorestown Library
  • There will be vendors selling food, clothes, gifts, and jewelry. There is free admission and performances.
  • To learn more visit this event listing.

Dandiya Dhamaka in Secaucus, NJ

  • Date: October 15, 2022
  • Time: 7 pm to 10 pm
  • Location: Secaucus Recreation Center
  • There will be the largest dance floor on the East Coast with a live band, dancing with dandiya, and more! Tickets are $15 per person.
  • To learn more visit this event listing.

Diwali Celebration in West Orange, NJ

  • Date: September 25, 2022
  • Time: 3 pm to 6 pm
  • Location: West Orange High School
  • There will be performances, Bollywood dancing lessons, activities, crafts, Indian foods, henna, and more. Everyone is welcome and admission is free. Please bring canned goods. 
  • To learn more visit this event listing.
Rangoli Flower with Candles on Floor

Ways to Celebrate Diwali at Home

While there are often events and shopping involved around the date of Diwali, the day of Diwali itself is usually celebrated at home. These are some ideas of things you can do in your house. 

Indian family in traditional sari lighting oil lamp and celebrating Diwali in New Jersey

Make a lantern craft. 

We have made these lanterns at Diwali library events in the past. The kids love carrying them around the house afterwards and the supplies to make them are easy to find around the house. See the details at Diwali Lantern Craft

Make your own diya or decorate one.

Diyas are inexpensive to pick up from an Indian store and you can later decorate them at home. A great diya craft we enjoyed at a past library event was making diyas out of old cd’s.

Diwali Lights

Eating sweets

Some of the popular desserts that I enjoy most from this holiday are rasmalai, kheer and gajar ka halwa. Mithai are also given to others in your life to show they are appreciated. Some of my favorite mithai are motichoor ladoo, chum chum and milk cake. 

diyas, Ganesh, Lakshmi, motichoor laddoo

Eat some Indian food

The popular Indian foods for Diwali that I love include aloo tikki, samosa and paneer tikka. Be sure to try food from a new place near you. We enjoy picking up food from the Asian Halal Meat and Kebab House in East Windsor or eating at the Palace of Asia in Lawrenceville. 

kadhi, chawal and zeera aloo

More Indian Restaurants to celebrate Diwali in New Jersey

  • One of our favorite places to eat is the Palace of Asia in Lawrenceville, Maple Shade, and Kingston. Tasty things to try: Aloo Papdi Chaat, Chicken Tikka, Paneer Kulcha, Garlic Naan, Chicken Makhani, Paneer Masala, Kheer.
  • Another favorite restaurant of ours is Ming for its Indo-Chinese Food. Mind is located in Edison, New Jersey. Tasty things to try: Drums of Heaven, Vegetable Manchurian, American Chopsuey with Chicken, Singapore Noodles, Date Pancakes.
  • Also in Edison is Moghul. Tasty things to try: Buffet, Moghul Bread Basket, Mulligatawny Soup, Murgh Tikka Makhani, Malai Kofta, Murgh Tikka, Kulfi Falooda, Rasmalai.
  • Asian Halal Meat & Kebab House in East Windsor. This location only offers takeout. Tasty things to try: Chole Batura, Shahi Paneer, Chicken Makhani, Chicken Seekh Kebab, Chicken Malai Kebab, Chicken Tikka Biryani.
  • Monsoon in Mount Laurel. We haven’t eaten there but other friends highly recommend it.
  • Cross Culture in Princeton. Tasty things to try: Paneer Tikka, Chicken Cashmere.

Pick up some dandiya sticks. 

In some parts of India such as Gujarat, Dandiya Raas is done on Diwali night. This is a style of dancing where people have two colorful sticks that they hit together. It is lots of fun! There are lots of videos online for you to practice at home: 3 Easy Dandiya Dance Steps

Dandiya dancing sticks

Try making some henna designs.

Some people also make henna designs on their palms for Diwali. Mehndi cones are easy to pick up at your local Indian grocer. Be aware that the designs might remain on your hands for a few weeks even but they fade over time. It is also difficult to apply to small children’s hands since they may find it difficult to sit still long enough for it to dry. Remember to do this at least a day or two before the holiday itself. 

Woman applies Mehndi (Henna) to another woman

Try making some Rangoli designs.

In some regions of India people make Rangoli designs in front of their house to welcome the goddess Lakshmi. An easy way to do this with kids is to have them do some decorations with chalk. Some people incorporate flowers or colored powder into their designs. 

diyas lighting during the celebration of Diwali

Wear some traditional Indian clothing.

Some people even purchase new outfits prior to Diwali. There are many options such as sarees, lehengas, kurtas, dhotis, and more. 

Lehnga Indian outfit for child

Read a book about Diwali with your children.

My favorite children’s books are ones where I learn something as well.

Let’s Celebrate Diwali

In Let’s Celebrate Diwali the book mentions different ways that people celebrate Diwali who come from different religions or regions of India. It is relatable to kids since the setting is within circle time at a school. I personally had not heard of many stories mentioned in this book so it is a great way to motivate readers to investigate further. 

You can purchase this book on Amazon using our affiliate link: Let’s Celebrate Diwali

Peppa’s Diwali

Have any Peppa Pig fans? The book called Peppa’s Diwali is a board book that is a good introduction to Diwali for kids. It tells them a few basics such as showing them clothes people wear and how diyas are lit. The only disappointing part was that the food they ate in the story that was pictured was unlike anything people usually eat at Diwali. 

You can purchase this book on Amazon using our affiliate link: Peppa Pig Peppa’s Diwali.

Ways to Celebrate Diwali in Your Community

Give sweets to neighbors.

Neighbors love getting a box of tasty mithai. Pick up some sweets before the day from your favorite local Indian store or make a trip to Edison to go to Mithaas

Find some friends or neighbors to do some sparklers and poppers with.

These are great to pick up during sales after the Fourth of July so you are ready for Diwali. It is always more fun to do these with others. 

A group celebrates Diwali by holding lit sparklers

Go somewhere where you can feel like you are in India.

Going to Oak Tree Road in Edison is a great way to feel like you are in India. Customers are able to haggle and visit a variety of shops and restaurants. When I was younger we lived in Edison and I loved visiting there to drink a mango lassi or eat bhel puri.

Jersey City has a Little India as well.

Diwali Festival in India

Robbinsville has a beautiful BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir that welcomes visitors. It is made entirely of hand-carved marble. For visitor information visit BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Have we inspired you to celebrate Diwali in New Jersey? Come back and let us know your favorite part.

Happy Diwali On Lantern

Looking to celebrate more Indian holidays with your family? Read our guide to Great Ways to Celebrate Holi in New Jersey with Kids and Teens.

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