Folks, the festivities for us have begun. Yay!!! I am super excited about all the festivals lines up ahead. I am always looking forward to this time of the year. This year is all the more special for me, as my family is visiting me. At such times, I miss the festive mood and spirit of people back home. The hustle bustle on the streets, over crowded shopping arcades and malls, festive shopping, the social gatherings and ofcourse the food. I personally believe that no matter how hard the Indian diaspora outside of India tries to replicate that same spirit overseas, it is never the same. Ofcourse, the sad truth is that we are not in India anymore. So we are always struggling, trying to do things we did back home to make us feel closer to home.
So off late I have been talking to A, about how we will be wearing Indian outfits during these celebrations. It makes me so sad when my son refuses to wear the kurta pyjama as he just doesn’t connect with it. I guess it’s more because he doesn’t see it in his everyday life. Had he grown up in India, he would be used to seeing people wearing it all the time so it would have been a normal affair for him. So to make things easier for him to understand I started telling him that just like he wears his Halloween costume on Halloween he needs to wear Indian clothes on Indian occasions. As soon as I uttered these words, I could hear the voices in my head
Inner voice : Don’t blame him for not wearing the kurta pyjama. It’s not his fault. He just doesn’t get to see it often so he doesn’t connect with it.
Me : What does he not understand, if he can understand a Halloween costume is to be worn on Halloween how can he not understand that he can wear a kurta pyjama on Navratri or Dushhera / Diwali.
Inner voice : Well, did you ever talk to him about Navratri / Dusshera or Diwali
Me : Well not really. He is just three, I didn’t think he would understand what these festivals are all about.
Inner voice : Well, well, he understands what Halloween and Christmas are all about. Doesn’t he?
Me : Oh yes! Totally!!!
Inner Voice: Did you ever ask yourself why he understands Halloween and Christmas?
Me : No
Inner Voice: Here you go, it’s just because you talked to him about Halloween and Christmas.
It’s then I realized that I never talked to him about the festivals thinking he wouldn’t understand, I underestimated him. So I have decided to bring about some awareness, on the ongoing and upcoming festivals of Navratri, Dussehra, Hoi Ashtmi, Diwali & Bhai-Duj. Atleast for now, lets see how much he absorbs. Ofcourse, the first thing that came to my mind was to look up online for fun and engaging ways to help A connect to the Indian heritage. I am deeply saddened to say that not much is available online for moms of Indian origin living overseas, except for a couple sites. However I do believe that 3 Curious Monkeys is doing a great job by introducing kids to our beautiful Indian heritage in a fun and engaging way. This festive season, I am definitely trying some of the art and craft activities listed on the website with A. A has already enjoyed some of the videos on their page. Their Diwali lesson plan has some really good ideas to engage with your child in a Diwali discussion. I just ordered their book, the Diwali Gift as one of A’s Diwali gift :) I am still on the lookout for more of such books.
So coming back to Navratri, I was talking to A about Dandiya Raas.
To make it a fun learning exercise I decided to put together edible Dandiyas(pair of colorfully decorated sticks used in a traditional folk dance of India called Dandiya Raas)for him. Ofcourse I had to engage him too, so I got him to help me decorate the sticks. Our Dandiyas depict the traditional sticks with gota drapped around the sticks. The carrot shreds and the pomegranate seeds depict the ghungroos (small metallic bells strung together).
He was one happy kid after helping me craft the dandiyas.
- 1 slice bread
- 1 tbsp organic peanut butter
- 1 tsp carrot, shredded
- 1 tsp cucumber, shredded
- 1 tsp red bell pepper, shredded
- 12 pomegranate seeds
- Take a slice of bread, and cut the brown edges from all sides.
- Cut the bread into 4 equal parts, lengthwise
- Spread nut butter or peanut butter on two slices. Using the other two slices make a peanut butter sandwich.
- Begin the decoration by placing the shredded vegetables on the sandwich.
- I used pomegranate seeds to showcase some beads on my sticks.
- For the danglers, use carrot shreds and pomegranate seeds.