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Training: The Ramayana - The Diwali Dance workshop

The Diwali festival is based on a mythical story called The Ramayana.

This workshop works in exactly the same way as the Where the Wild Things Are. It brings the story of the Ramayana to life through dance, using Bollywood style dance and music.

You will need to download the music as it is not on the MP3 players. If you have windows you can plug in the MP3 player, it will appear like a flash USB drive, and you can drag these folders in to the music folder. Or you can find another way, or swap players for a refreshed one with us.

There are actually two albums here - one for the assembly and one for the workshop.

The Assembly - a small change

There is an album of tracks called Diwali Assembly for the slightly different assembly based on this version (the most common one, that most people taught in 2016 and 2017) with one minor change:

  • Track 3, the Irish track, is replaced with Mundian, a Bollywood track.
  • After asking what style of dance that is, ask where in the world it comes from.
    • Bollywood dance is a hybrid of lots of different styles of indian dance, like Bhangra and Kathak and Bharatnatyam together with an american hip hop/western influence. It was made popular by its use in films but people now use it at weddings and for lots of social and party occasions.

    • You could possibly add some of this: It incorporates a series of hand gestures, called Hastas, that can be done as single or double hand gestures and they tell a story.  The palm of the hand should always face up to the ceiling because it is a very religious dance and so the palm should always be to the gods.

    • These are a couple we will be using in our dance today. SHOW THEM AND GET THEM TO PRACTICE THE FAN HANDS, THE PEACOCK (Mayura) AND THE BOWL OF FLOWERS (pushpaputam). You can explain that flowers are used a lot in Diwali celebrations.

  • Then say we're going to use the Bollywood style of dance in workshops with your classes today to explore a special story called The Ramayana, which is the story about Lord Rama and is one of the stories celebrated in the Diwali festival.

  • But first of all I'm going to talk now about how dance is made and how to tell stories with dance.

  • Then back to the usual stuff.

If you have only Diwali with all the classes you should also recap the Rmayana Story and talk about the Diwali celebrations at the end of the assembly so that you save time in each workshop.

The Ramayana story

The children and teachers all know The Ramayana story - and bringing it to life is what you are there for! It's absolutely imperative that you know it too!

It's only just over one page of story, or a couple of minutes of cartoon though!

There are two websites you should visit: Mocomi and BBC Cbeebies both of which have short cartoon videos to tell the story - 2 minutes and 4 minutes.

The version of the story we are using is the one written on the Mocomi page.  Here is a downloadable PDF for you. Learn the story, and make sure the children know it.


Choreographer instructions

Please see the written information below the video.


To play the video in sync with the voiceover instructions: 

  1. Type the password in to the video if required
  2. Press play on the voiceover
  3. Listen to the spoken instructions, and press play on the video when instructed

Diwali and The Ramayana - full dance

Diwali and The Ramayana - hands and arms close up!


Ramayana – The Story of Diwali

All Years

1)    Warm Up

2)    Games

There is very little time for games, so mostly just go straight into the workshop, but you may wish to do People to people  and use Diwali as the signal for them to change partners

Command to gain control – ARROW - and get them to do the movement where they reach up to the gods to get the arrow

Dance - KS2 YEAR 5 & 6
See below for slight changes for year 3 & 4 and the KS1 version

Introduction (if not done in assembly): Diwali is the festival of light, which is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is one of the most important festivals in the year. One of the main things it signifies is the triumph of good over evil. 

Used in the celebrations are lights, candles, flowers and the Painting of rangoil patterns

There are lots of different tales about this celebration and this story is one example.

Group 1 = Picture of the King Dasaratha and his 3 queens, and 4 princess. The jealous  queen demanding that Ram and Sita are exiled to the forest – when picture comes to life show them being sent away then everyone in the group except 2 playing Ram and Sita turn into the forest

Group 2 = the demoness Surpanakha, Ravan and the golden deer distracting Ram and Lakshman – when picture comes to life, we see the distraction and them kidnapping Sita

Group 3 = Hanuman the monkey (like wild things, when the whole group makes one wild thing) or you can split the group onto 2 smaller groups to make 2 monkeys. – when the picture comes to life we see the monkey move ( see the story for descriptive words about the way the monkey moves)

All start in places for groups 

4x8 Group 1 picture and then moving

4x8 Group 2 picture then moving

4x8 group 3 picture then moving

1x8 reach up and get the arrow from the gods and bring it down towards your heart – arms up over head, glasping hands and bring aroms down, feet together.

4x8 everyone becomes an individual beasts and monkeys as Rama’s army moving around in slow motion as the mokeys and beasts getting into a circle

2x8 circle traditional stick dance (used a lot as a celebratory dance in Diwali) = get them to tap their fingers together lightly, explain this would normally be with 2 sticks. Step forward right, low right tap then step left with low left tap, step forward 1 tap up high, step back 1 and tap low behind the back. Repeat 

Firework - all face front with bag of flower hands (showing that lots of flowers are used to celebrate)

1-2 left heal dig out to side flexed foot, left arm extend over and out to the left side with fan hand, right hand on waist
3-4 left foot dig behind on ball of foot, left hand up over head, palm to ceiling (inverted 5th position) right hand remains on hip
1x4 repeat
1x8 basic step (which is like a little parallel ball change)
1-2 left arm with peak of the mountain (shikhara) hand/hasta (like a thumbs up) out to side up to shoulder, thumb pointing in to shoulder, feet keep doing basic step
3-4 repeat right hand up to shoulder
5-8 dipping elbows, feet keep doing basic step

1-2 both arms extend to the side with fan hands
3-4 both hands in to peacock (mayura)
5-6 cross step – right foot crossed across in front of left and bring back together
7-8 repeat to the right
1-4 repeat cross step again both sides but on last cross step rather than bringing feet back together take left foot out to second position, heels raised (demi point) and in a Plié 

1 -3 knock knees in keeping heals raised, punching left hand in a fist down  on diagonal
4 clap
1-4 repeat to the other side
1-8 repeat again both sides

Tell them they can use one of the hastas they have learnt with their hands or if you have time you can teach them a couple of the other ones (see explanation video) to make exploding end positions. Explain about the use of fireworks or ask them what is used in celebrations.
1st firework into a position low.
2nd firework into a high position to finish


Dance – KS2 YEAR 3 & 4

Changes for KS2 year 3 & 4 = don’t go into a circle for stick dance just ask them to face the front after moving around for 4x8 at beast and monkeys.

Explain that it is normally done in a circle and it’s a traditional dance. You can offer to the teacher that she/he may like to try doing it moving around in a circle

The rest remains the same

Dance - KS1

Changes for KS1

Do all the group story telling sections through all together . 

Create a freeze and a couple of movements for each section. For example during what would be group 1, get the children to stand with their hands doing a crown on their heads 1-4, then pointing as exiling Rama 4-8, then turning into a tree 1-4 and walking step (like Rama and Sita heading into the forest) 5-8

Repeat a similar thing for the other group sections.

The dance should be ok but you may want to use the ok (araala) hand gesture/hasta instead of the peacock as it’s a simpler finger to put to the thumb