India is a land of festivals, and teaching the importance of festivals to our children is of utmost importance.
Uttarayan, Lohadi, Holi, Gudi Padwa, Ugadi, Onam, Eid, Diwali, Christmas.
You name it, we celebrate it.
Irrespective of who we are and what religion we follow, celebrations of any sorts are always magical be it religious, national or seasonal. Everyone gets together for preparations during festivities.
As a kid, these days meant no school, wearing new clothes, gorging on good food mostly prepared at home by Mom and Dad. My dad’s a fabulous cook, by the way. Might dedicate a post on his cooking skills, sometime soon!
But I’ll be honest.
While growing up, the importance of these days was mostly lost on me. I knew they were important and we should be involved, but those were the carefree days, after all.
Fast forward a few decades later, I am now mom to two little girls.
With the onset of Navratri, I started the aarti , praying to the Gods, twice a day. And my elder daughter, who is almost 5, started questioning my actions.
“Maa , why do we sing this “song”?”
“Mamma, why are you making halva ( sweet meat) today?”
“Maa, why are you wearing sari today?”
“Maa, is it someone’s birthday?”
“Mamma, what is Navratri?”
And the list goes on.
These train of questions got me thinking about how important it is to teach our children about our culture. And just why our culture; there is a plethora of cultures and customs around the world.
But I decided to start at home turf nonetheless.
I started telling her about the importance of Navratri, or the nine nights of worshipping the different avatars of Goddess Durga.
I told her about the celebration of the victory of Maa Durga over the evil Mahishasur, and like all festivals, the victory of good over evil.
Then we went on to discuss the reasons why we celebrate Diwali- Lord Ram’s victorious return from Lanka with Sita Ji. How his brothers had supported him during his exile- which my daughter eventually called a trip to the jungle and associated it with camping and making ‘smores.
Hilarious how their minds work.
All this while, I kept asserting and stressing that good always wins over evil. If we do good, good will always come to us. Indeed, the path is not an easy one. It’s lined with a lot of difficulties but only the brave ones can tread the path of righteousness and come out winning.
Suddenly, It felt like I had to make her understand that no matter what, you have to stand tall; no matter who is standing with or against you, you have must be your own pillar of strength.
That there is a lot of wrong and evil out there in the world. And that although it is very alluring to take the easy path or turn a blind eye, it takes a ton of courage for one to stand for what is correct.
To stand for someone who is suffering. To stand with someone who is in distress. And in the end, you will always come out shining.
On these special days, we also try to teach our girls the importance of giving. Of celebrating with the less fortunate. Of sharing the good food, good clothes, color, firecrackers or our time with those who cannot afford it.
As we have rapidly turned into nuclear families, cousins, and aunts and uncles do not meet on a daily basis. In an earlier post titled Siblings- Funny Word, Serious Bond I talk about the importance of siblings for this very reason.
Nonetheless, festivals bring us closer. In my family, have a ritual of sitting around our dining table and giving everyone in our family a call. That takes up almost half the day, but it brings us back on the same page on everyone’s life
Just as all kids of this age, my elder one is very inquisitive and has a best friend who belongs to the Muslim community and she knows that they celebrate Eid. Tomorrow she wants to go to his house to understand the importance of Eid.
Mostly, she is interested in who fought whom, and whose victory do we celebrate. But, I am happy that I am raising a secular kid.
However, with all the merriment, I do hope they understand the grim realities of life and be strong enough to take on what life brings at them. At the same time, to not lose their innocence and the belief that life is all cupcakes and rainbows.
And like their recent favorite movie Trolls, they always are able to look at the bright side like the Troll Tribe.
And in the end, I hope they help all the Bergens become Trolls too.