How Harvest Festivals Celebrate Change in Every Sphere

How Harvest Festivals Celebrate Change in Every Sphere

Why are harvest festivals celebrated at all? Does it really matter if we mark this time of the year?

Makar Sankranti is the time when new harvest is gathered. Not just that, it heralds the onset of new seasonal change, marking the end of harsh winters and welcoming the blossoming spring season. A slight rise in temperatures, warming and stirring the soul is what marks Sankranti. In fact, it’s not just makar Sankranti, every harvest festival marks a season of change.

It highlights change of weather, change of crop, change of some kind! And change is good! Change is inevitable and so we should learn to embrace it, whole-heartedly, with the right spirit and nothing better that embracing this change, right at the beginning of the year!

I will not talk about how the festival is celebrated because we have already shared all about this season here – Each culture brings about their share of festivities with this harvest festival and so do we, the Bengalis. We make the customary “khuchudi” with the first rice of the season, served with chutney and fried fritters to go along. Apart from that our range of sweets like “pithey” and “patishapta” all flour based sweets, made with “nolen gur” or date palm jiggery, is often the staple dessert menu on this D-day.

What I love most about the festival is that, I embrace the seasonal change and gear up my spring wardrobe slowly and steadily. The house looks and feels warm with the warm morning sun. The beautiful warmth of the streaming sun rays just makes the house glow with a magical spirit!

I remember the entire household décor would go for an overhaul. My mother would vacuum the heavy carpets and curtains and seal them in bags, stuff them in box beds, bring out the lighter curtains, followed by our light upholstery to mark the idea of living with change, while staying the same!

Small superficial things, would often undergo change around us, with slight change in routine too. For example, play time getting extended in mornings (provided there was no fog), a new school routine with more serious tone of work (post the large winter vacations) and less holidays to merry make. Although, in some way, we would feel sad, but the weather always told us to stay hopeful as another change would bring us a new routine!

For instance, for Bengalis, Sankranti is soon followed by “Saraswati puja” or popularly known as “Basant Panchami”, marking the full blown season of spring, dotted with blooming flowers and greenery everywhere.

My mother would often tell me that change to some, can get quite overwhelming, but when you celebrate it, it becomes a happy event and thereby, the change seems more welcoming and seemingly easy!

That’s why celebrating seasonal festivals is good, because it cleanses your mind and soul, and somehow preps you well for the upcoming change in season and maybe, even a routine.

That’s why even though, I don’t do anything more elaborate with these harvest festivals, but still I try and create a different aura at home, to make it feel different that before!

Even I see my son, responding well to the change via festivity of some kind. He looks forward to a different menu, different home décor, maybe a temple visit or visiting some festival related event or simply gathering with friends and family, to spread the cheer! The sheer joy and twinkle in his eyes are more than enough to convince me, that I am doing maybe something right, to make him feel happy!

After all, as parents, we need to create happy memories, to strengthen a happy solid foundation for our children. This will serve as the impetus for their solid growth in the future years! So to me, as a parent, seasonal festivals like harvest festivals are the perfect platform to teach them to value and embrace change, of any kind!

Broaden Your Parenting Horizons

Easy Ways to Spread Christmas Cheer Around Multicultural Homes

Easy Ways to Spread Christmas Cheer Around Multicultural Homes

Every festival creates a remote, yet a faint sense of goodness. Irrespective of how we fare other days, festivals are when we feel forgiving in a kind and noble way. I think that’s why such days seem all the more beautiful because we tend to unlearn a lot of things, while embracing an aura of goodness around.

Christmas is no different as well. Like other festivals, we feel beautiful and wish to create some beautiful memories as well.

Back in my growing up years, when fetching a decorative Christmas tree was out of bounds, I remember how my mother took the pains of creating one, from a green shimmery chart paper. With some added chart paper balls and bells, she turned my fantasy Christmas tree, into a reality. Nothing seemed as beautiful then.

I remember how my other friends relished the look of the tree and so my mother decided to have the tree parked right at the entrance, so that it looked as if it belonged to everybody in the building and not just me!

My friends were elated. I wasn’t so pleased initially and scowled at the suggestion first. I felt it was too much to demand from an eight year old version of me. However, after much of persuasion, I gave in!

Since then, I try to imbibe the spirit on at least the festival days like Christmas. There’s no rule book of doing things. Only one simple rule implies-do things which give you happiness and happiness is contagious. It will spread like wild fire, differently though, through different people, but yes someone has to ignite that spark.

And what better way to bid adieu to the year gone by than to say it with Christmas bang! With kids, it just becomes another beautiful way to unwind, relax and enjoy! Here’s what you can do to spread cheer!

Cook together

There’s nothing as beautiful as whipping up that basic meal with everyone. Trust me, too many hands might spoil the dish, but will make the moment cherished! Try it! Whether it’s that traditional recipe or a simple cake, the more the company, the merrier the memory! After all, isn’t festival a great time to create some wonderful memories with kids!

Eat together

Time to savor the creation or maybe the disaster, but who cares! Food is a mere excuse to enjoy the company! It’s just a prop to relish each other’s company and when the company’s good, everything feels good. Even if its’s an underdone or overdone meal!

Make crafts

Simple crafts like drawing Christmas trees, making cards for family or ornaments are a great way to rejoice during this time.

Watching movies and reading books

Kids love to get a hang of everything that tells volumes about the festival. Reading books or watching movies like “Polar Express”, “Christmas Carol” or even “Home Alone” series are just about enough to get bitten by the magical charm of the festival!

Visit special fairs and events

I love visiting events and places, which get decked up during festivals. It just creates the perfect ambience of the occasion. Book fairs, craft fairs selling Christmas trinkets and décor, Secret Santa are just an amazing way to feel the vibe and kids love to see such Christmassy things!

Share gifts with underprivileged

The thrill of unwrapping presents is priceless! However, the thrill can be extended if the gifts are shared with friends or perhaps some underprivileged ones. Nothing beats the feeling than giving joy to someone, who really deserves it! Try it with your kid, to derive a feeling that just cannot be explained in words.

All it takes is a smile

Smile and the world smiles with you! Yes, whoever said that just simply nailed it! And smiling and wishing people a simple “Merry Christmas” could become that little spark to spread that flame of happiness! I have managed to make it spread and spread it further so why not this Christmas.

Try and feel as beautiful as you want because it’s the season of joy! These are simple things to remind you that life is beautiful and can be enjoyed through very simple things in life! Festivals are a joyful break for all of us, to halt, remind and help us savor the simple pleasures of life and the goodness around!

And children need such simple things to hang onto and create some wondrous memories around!

Read more about how multicultural families around the world celebrate Christmas in their homes here. Share your Christmas fun with us in the comments below.

Do You Appreciate the Leadership in Your School System?

Do You Appreciate the Leadership in Your School System?

Educational leadership is the need of the hour. To manage school systems effectively, more and more schools are creating leadership oriented management roles or inculcating leadership programs, to combat with school issues. The aim is to bring direction and control in the system, in sync with the school’s value system.

While a lot of issues need to be addressed by the educators and school management system, the core issue of high teacher attrition rate continues to bother the most, especially in a country like India.

An educator cum researcher Richard Ingersoll extrapolated that between 40-50% of teachers left the classroom within first five years. The primary reason being the very assumed definition of teaching, which says that the profession was meant as this temporary line of work for women before they got their real job, which was raising families.

Perhaps the only industry, which witnesses 4% higher employee turnover than any other, is the current school education sector. Yes, the more looked up to role of a teacher, is far from being elite and sought after, at least that’s what the statistics state. The high attrition rate of teachers in the education sector, especially in schools is still an ongoing battle for the education system.

A varied list of reasons, ranging from intangible issues like lack of respect, lack of motivation to the more tangible ones like pay and excess workload, are elements governing the high teacher turnover rate. Some teachers also consider the job to be a much dis empowered line of work because they have very little say in the matters of school. However, some also quoted “personal reasons” like individual stress levels and work-life balance struggles. The latter can be understood as their role demands a very high expectation out of them and they are likely to be held accountable for everything.

Going by the school mission and vision, coupled with the demanding job of raising all-rounder kids takes an emotional toll on today’s teachers. They pour out their emotional energy along with physical energy into their work, which breeds quick exhaustion. However, that’s not all. The frustration goes uphill if the energy doesn’t see the desired effects quickly or basically if they are in low-performing schools. In short, the teachers often feel like hardworking martyrs for a hopeless cause.

So how do the school systems ensure that the attrition rate gets controlled, if not necessarily reduced? This is where the need of educational leadership or rather instructional leadership comes into picture.

Usually in schools, a principal is supposed to carry out the leadership role, guiding the school to better teaching and learning. The principal not just shapes a vision of academic success for all students or create a climate hospitable to education, but cultivates leadership in others as well. He/she improves school leadership by efficiently managing data, processes and not to mention, the manpower or the people.

Let us quickly and briefly elaborate the points.

  • Creating the vision of academic success-: Getting a bigger picture or the final goal always helps in further clarifying the process to achieve it. Hence, committing to high standards sets the functions in order. Right from focusing on the number of admissions, emphasis on low performing students, and low skilled employment to handling dropouts, the categorical segregation of issues is better.
  • Creating a climate conducive to learning-: Leadership oriented schools always put forth learning right at the center of their activities. Whether it’s the adults or children, learning remains the core exercise for holistic growth. Such schools are characterized by basics like safety, organized classrooms, orderliness, and intangible assets like supportive and responsive classrooms. To top it all, a further sense of belonging or community feeling within the teaching faculty is also important as that percolates down to the student fraternity, adding to a sense of security. The latter is believed to ensure an effective and transparent communication channel, which removes “teacher pessimism” as well.
  • Cultivating leadership in others:-Researches have proved that principals, who scored high in the eyes of teachers, for creating a strong climate for instructional transparency, were the right kind of leaders. They understand the need to depend on others to accomplish the institution’s common purpose and therefore, encourage the development of leadership skill. This gives a strong fillip to the teaching faculty. In fact, the more the principals are willing to spur leadership roles in and around, the better the schools perform.
  • Focusing on improving instruction:-Working constantly to improve the quality of instruction is the key behind getting good work done. It sets a clear definition of the job demanded, helps sort issues like teacher isolation and fragmented effort and directly allows to connect with teachers and their classrooms. This also works in favor as the principals or the people with authority, get to address manpower issues through research based strategies for improving teaching and learning.
  • Managing people, data and processes:-Effective use of resources, both tangible and intangible holds the secret to success. Research as per VAL-ED (Vanderbilt assessment of leadership in education is a tool to assess principal performance, developed by researchers at Vanderbilt University) states the key steps for effective leadership are planning, implementing, supporting, advocating, communicating and monitoring. The skill to be able to view data for not just pinpointing, but for understanding the nature and cause of problems, helps to promote efficient work environment.

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 It is believed that an economy of a nation strongly depends on an educated population. Therefore, the government is constantly seeking out ways to narrow the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged students. In a school, this effort starts with a principal and the management system.

Therefore, educational leadership in schools will not just help to fulfill the bigger picture of a successful school or economy, but also address the much neglected aspect of teacher retention. Schools that do reasonably well, in terms of responding to student behavioral issues and appreciating the voice of teachers, have lesser issues of teacher retention.

Respected, well paid teaching jobs will never witness crisis moments, as long as the underlying issues are tackled sensibly. Teachers are the true catalysts for change, so improving the quality of teaching job or the attractiveness of teaching as a profession, will definitely improve the quality of teaching in the long run. And if this happens, the schools would attract good people, who would consider their job seriously and make it worth it.

 

  Malvika Roy Singh A freelance creative writer and blogger for the past 7 years, Malvika Roy SIngh writes about subjects like travel, food, lifestyle, health, interior designing, real estate, digital entertainment, media and marketing, education etc. Her parenting blog helps her be a conscious parent (www.wipmom.com) When she is not writing, she can be found either running or playing with her 4 year old son enjoying time reading. She resides in Hyderabad and can be reached at mroysingh@gmail.com

“102 Not Out” Celebrates the Very Spirit of Parenting

“102 Not Out” Celebrates the Very Spirit of Parenting

102 Not Out is a great example of once a parent, always a parent!

Parenting is a lifelong project, where the focus is on raising independent children, who are capable of leading lives with joy and happiness independently, without any external support (including parents).

The idea for me as a mother completely resonated, when I watched a 102 year old Dattareya Vakhria (role immaculately essayed by Amitabh Bachchan) fighting tooth and nail, through a series of comic challenges thrust upon, his already old and senile 75 year old son Babu (played perfectly by Rishi Kapoor), to instill the value of self-dependence and finding joy within.

Dattareya for this understands that he has to set the right example by living a similar life first and so he does. He believes in living life each day, without any grudge or repentance. His mission in life is to break the only living man’s record ( a Chinese who is 118 year old).To fulfill the goal, Dattareya needs to be happy, calm and composed, which he believes he will not be able to with his boring, ever cribbing and complaining son, who makes morose out of every situation. For the sake of this, he comes up with his ingenious plan of sending his son to an old age home.

What follows is a series of funny moments translating into moments that help you reflect on your ideologies as a parent and question your parenting spirit. If god forbid, we survived and lived up to 102, will we have first,  this zeal in life? And second, will we be able to spread it around so that our kids absorb it from us?

From Dattareya’s character one thing is for sure that as a parent, you need to love yourself first, so as to be able to think of your kids’ and their well being. As a parent, Amitabh’s character touched upon several aspects of parents, starting with self-love to providing the right guidance to his child (age no bar) by hook or crook.

What was endearing was that even at the ripe age of 102, Dattareya continued to parent his son, guiding him, or rather forcing him to get back on the track to lead a happy life.

He shows or rather sets an example that how as a parent, you always have to extend support to your child, to help him gain strength and confidence in himself, at every age and stage of life.

Dattareya was a man, who was hell bent to see his child, lead a happy life, sans all false dependence. He strives to make his son capable to live his life alone, to develop a positive attitude to life and everything around.

It was this spirit of Dattreya that made him “102 Not Out”! He truly showed the essence of being a positive parent, where age was no bar.

This movie is a must watch for all parents. Right from parents, who feel parenting is a short time project and they don’t need to extend any help, post children growing to a certain age, to those who resonate with the idea (this will stem the belief stronger), this movie transitions through phases of parenting and eventually teaches that as a parent, the guiding has to flow from you at every stage.

 

As a parent I would remain restless, till the time my son doesn’t get the idea of living right! After all, this is most important responsibility of me, as a parent.

If tomorrow, I see my child living a happy life (both physically and emotionally), gratitude filled and joyful life on his own, I will definitely give myself “a successful parent” award! Then maybe, I can would feel that I did a great job!

 
Malvika Roy Singh A freelance creative writer and blogger for the past 7 years, Malvika Roy SIngh writes about subjects like travel, food, lifestyle, health, interior designing, real estate, digital entertainment, media and marketing, education etc. Her parenting blog helps her be a conscious parent (www.wipmom.com) When she is not writing, she can be found either running or playing with her 4 year old son enjoying time reading. She resides in Hyderabad and can be reached at mroysingh@gmail.com
learn patriotism

Learn Patriotism from “Calling Sehmat” – Harinder Sikka

learn patriotism

Very few books have elements of spying, patriotism, courage, guilt and remorse all under the same roof! “Calling Sehmat” just walks the tightrope, balancing all these elements of humane psyche with finesse.

It was actually the movie, which fueled my interest to go behind finding the actual book.

“Calling Sehmat” was a fine revelation and all thanks to Harinder Sikka, the author, who took the pains, to chalk out the life of the protagonist, pre and post her life as a spy, by researching about the character’s life for a period of 8 years!

It isn’t easy for a young twenty year old girl, to surrender all her dreams, her love, to only fulfill the vision of her parents, which is protecting the country. This level of parental devotion or rather patriotism towards one’s country is initially thought as stupid or rather far-fetched, but for a young girl, for whom this also was a dying father’s last wish, the act made sense.

Considering that the book is inspired from a real life hero, whose name is chosen to be kept as anonymous with just a pen name “Sehmat”, I would take this opportunity to call her as truly heroic, courageous and above all, a gem of a human being.

What she did was unfathomable! Not many trained spies could do that, and live to tell the tale, but she did!

Being a Kashmiri Indian girl, Sehmat was married and sent to Pakistan, to serve as an Indian Spy. The plot and story line is what makes the plot gripping and on the edge all the times.

Sehmat’s unfettered attention and observation to detail to plot schemes and strategies, to get into the good books of her Pakistani marital household, coupled with her attempts to dodge the eyes of suspects, is what makes this book a real thriller.

The book gets its pace, post the main protagonist’s arrival in Pakistan. The way, she uncovers secrets, finds resources and transmits messages, all in the garb of a newlywed innocent daughter-in-law, is surprising and nothing less than brave. Her pretentious act of being a good wife, and a daughter-in-law, with the underlying hidden motive of extracting information for Indian counterparts is flawless, brave and above all, mind blowing.

However, since Sehmat was not a trained spy, her character has been shown as vulnerable, especially in the moments of pain and hurt. Her acts of crime and killings are brutal and chilling, but they simultaneously show the humane side of her, pain and remorse envelop her heart with guilt. However, her spy mind is always at work and this contradiction of her ruthlessness as a spy versus the simplicity and love for life as a human, is what makes the tale interesting.

Killings and crimes come with a price, which was also quoted for Sehmat. Although, post her stint as a spy, she led a life away from the prying eyes of government, but she couldn’t escape her own. Her own guilt and remorse led her to live a life in isolation, almost on the edge of going insane. The pain and remorse was something that even prevented her to take care of her own child, something that simply added to her woes. She could never have a normal mother-son relationship, something which even the author confessed.

Her coming back to life via the route of spirituality was touching and heartfelt. In short, her life was brave and courageous, not just replete with patriotism and devotion towards her own country, but also marked with respect for every human who touched her life, whether Indian or Pakistani.

Her re-settling in Maler Kotla, a small city in Punjab, post her “Spy” days, said it all. While her act of spying was to respect her father’s, an Indian’s wishes, her settling in Maler Kotla, was an act of sheer repentance towards someone, who she had mercilessly killed in the path of spying. Not everyone has this heart and mind to recognize and respect all, including those who usually are at the end of receiving wrath from us!

This book talks about a character, which seems to be a story, but it just was real. The only real and heartbreaking is the truth and price of being a spy. No spy is happy killing or committing crime, but like the movie tagline says, “Nothing in front of nation” and that is what made Sehmat pay a very heavy price, but earned her a lot of respect.

The book definitely raises the doubt, whether putting everything at stake for a country’s pride and safety, is actually worthwhile, especially when your own identity and life is at stake, even after providing life saving information?

Read more of the many lessons books today teach kids by clicking here.

This book has been adapted into the incredible movie “Raazi”. You can watch the trailer of the movie, now available on Netflix.

What are you willing to do for your country? 

 

 
Malvika Roy Singh A freelance creative writer and blogger for the past 7 years, Malvika Roy SIngh writes about subjects like travel, food, lifestyle, health, interior designing, real estate, digital entertainment, media and marketing, education etc. Her parenting blog helps her be a conscious parent (www.wipmom.com) When she is not writing, she can be found either running or playing with her 4 year old son enjoying time reading. She resides in Hyderabad and can be reached at mroysingh@gmail.com
pexels-photo-259363

Advantages of Taking Time Out for Self Love

Parenting is a challenging job. It might sound harsh to some, but yes, it is a “job” because after all it is a kind of work that involves providing for services for another entity altogether. In fact, the service demand doesn’t come with a 9-5 clock timing, but rather in the form of a rigorous 24*7 spontaneous routine work!

Exhaustion, lethargy and boredom are few elements, which usually sink in at some of point of time, while performing a routine job, but motherhood is a kind of work, which involves high attention, high energy and super-excitement with every passing age and stage of a child’s progress.

No matter how much highly charged we are, there’s no denial that the above mentioned elements do sink at some stage. Not to mention the quantum of guilt that follows soon after.

We tend to put in so much, do so many things singlehandedly (all in the name of being a good mother or rather a super woman) that we exhaust ourselves. There are times when we want “me” time, but we don’t do anything.

There are times, when we just want to enjoy doing nothing and then maybe followed by pursuing one of our passions.

However, do we actually do things that define “us” and not the “mom” is us?

When was the last time, we spent time on ourselves, for things that we truly enjoyed (sans guilt)? I don’t think we do much. In fact, we get so bogged down, sometimes disgusted by the idea of taking even an hour for ourselves that we screw up the idea of “me-time” ourselves.

This is doing more damage to our kids than actually you would believe. I know I will have to take you through, to point out how actually you could be damaging your kids.

The many ways taking time out for self love helps you and your family.

Staying comfortable with yourself is crucial to teach kids to enjoy their time alone.

Are you upset about the fact that you kid is not learning how to soothe self and needs myriad activities or digital screens to self-entertain? How will they if they don’t’ see you doing the same?

As parents, we are half the time moving at a frenetic pace, hardly stopping to have a meal at leisurely pace or even to gaze at the view outside the balcony. We have myriad peeps, tweets, buzz and rings to so many devices that we fail to pay attention to the most profound gadget that we own, our body and mind.

Try to take off at least 15 minutes, disengaged from external stimuli, to enjoy doing nothing, but to enjoy yourself. Most importantly, let your child see you doing this. He will stay curious to look at what and how you are doing something that involves nothing. Don’t forget children learn by example. If we fail to help our children learn how to be alone, they will always be lonely.

Teach the kids to be quiet for some time, in the event of some unpleasantness. Tell them to describe how they feel. Don’t put in words just too soon based on your assumptions. Let the child explore and describe his situation to you.

Only when we are comfortable in our own skin, we will attract and sustain healthy relationships.

Some people assume pairing up with a romantic partner or spending time with friends will alleviate those feelings of loneliness. It might, but temporarily. This acts as a distracting method and not as a sustainable solution in the long run. Chasing after someone to fill those empty spaces in our hearts will only create more problems and less solutions.

Children need to understand that they can be truly independent (per se) without needing something or someone to drown out that noise of discontent of boredom.

Pursue your passions to know yourself better

When you find time to pursue your passions like painting, reading or gardening, and allow children to see this, they understand that learning is an integral part of life.

This might sound like a piece of other-worldly advice, but it is for you to experience the real. As a mother, when I indulge doing nothing or when I unplug the electronic devices, sit with myself to read or write, I see myself in a different light. I start appreciating myself a little more, turn more accepting and less critical towards my issues. I turn more benevolent and work on devising ways to improvise with care. This care and appreciation towards self is what makes children to appreciate themselves.

Let them sit quietly and figure out their natural inclinations towards things rather than you turning them in some direction. Let the child learn to do the thinking for self. This process will help children to develop a sense of self and worth.

In a world of criticism and negative feedback, a sense of self and worth can be achieved if we equip our kids to love and appreciate themselves.

Create a tribe to share responsibilities

As a parent you need to muster the courage and cross over that ego barrier, to talk to other like-minded parents, with whom you can share responsibilities. No matter how much you crave to live up to the definition of being a solo parent (and a good one at that), you won’t be able to bring it all together.

It is essential that as a parent, we build a tribe to make this journey of parenting a fulfilling and enriching experience and which won’t happen if you don’t go out and seek help.

Be it a set of close knit, like-minded friends or a family member living close by, the help can be received from many areas. All you have to do is shed your ego and ask for help.

In our age of nuclear families, or apartment culture, this is all we have got, so there should be no shame for asking for help. Remember, we are teaching our children to ask for help, to only make certain things better. If we remain all held up and closed in our cubicle, we will suffocate and we will teach them to suffocate and perish, rather than asking for help. And certainly this is not what we want for our kids!

Children, who feel they are a part of community grow up feeling anchored.

Remember the famous African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Well, it stands true in every sense of the work. Children, who are a part of a large community or people sharing parenting duties, feel more cared, belonged and secure.

Hence, as a parent (living in nuclear family), it is crucial to plan ways to spend time with like-hearted parents with kids in similar age group or friends and partners, who are willing to support each other in times of despair, respite and give us some time to recharge.

However, it should be ensured that kids are not getting upset with the company. Their safety and security is something that need not be compromised in the name of “me” time.

If we have to raise confident and secure children, we need to make them listen to their inner wisdom and trust their intuition.  They need not put up with someone, who is making them feel uncomfortable or unappreciative about something. Kids whose boundaries are respected, have an easier time settling than their peers.

Once settled with other caregivers or people, who extend parenting duties on your behalf, they will enjoy myriad experiences through people, which is more enriching than any device!

By incorporating our lives with meaning (with adequate help) and a passion for learning, we will provide our children with real-life opportunities to do the same. We will equip and empower them against boredom, apathy and malaise of any form. It just has to start with you!

  Malvika Roy Singh A freelance creative writer and blogger for the past 7 years, Malvika Roy SIngh writes about subjects like travel, food, lifestyle, health, interior designing, real estate, digital entertainment, media and marketing, education etc. Her parenting blog helps her be a conscious parent (www.wipmom.com) When she is not writing, she can be found either running or playing with her 4 year old son enjoying time reading. She resides in Hyderabad and can be reached at mroysingh@gmail.com
What Celebrating Birthdays Does for Our Kids

What Celebrating Birthdays Does for Our Kids

Childhood is often reminisced with fond memories, especially around special occasions like festivals, summer or winter vacations and of course, birthdays.

My childhood is replete with such fond memories and I often like to revive and relive these memories through each passing year, in my own small way.

Although, a tad bit older, none the bit wiser, I try to recreate the magic of those moments. Memories around birthdays don’t need an “age” or a number specificity to cherish and celebrate.

I choose to celebrate each and everything, including birthdays, which my parents celebrated to make us feel special and loved.

My Special Days 

Birthdays for instance were a big deal for me, especially in my growing up years. I remember it was in standard 5, when I decided that I was too grown up for childlike pompom laced birthday parties. I clearly remember how I had declared that I was a grown up then and strictly told my parents to stop creating a hullabaloo around my birthday any more.

To respect an eleven year old child’s decision, they made sure my last formal, childlike birthday party was way beyond “normal”. They got me a special castle shaped cake with all fancy sugar decorations (in those days getting ice cream cones as the castle tops with silver balls and bells was a great deal on cake). Apart from that, they called almost everyone from their world, arranged some fancy games, and literally hosted a party that lasted to the wee hours of night.

Honestly, as an eleven year old, I felt I had grown up, but my parents hadn’t. I was all the more certain of not repeating the celebrations anymore to save myself from further embarrassments caused through my parents over-indulgence.

Anyway, the years rolled by, but my parents didn’t leave any stone upturned to help me savor my birthdays. The years since then, still were laced with birthday celebrations of a different kind.

Although, there were no “party” parties as such, yet there were gifts wrapped and placed near my pillow, surprise cake in the morning, special breakfasts, formal lunches with friends all laced with homemade fancy food, and night time were reserved with cozy dinners with family. From morning to evening, I was made to feel as if I had done something great by simply taking birth on this planet.

As I look back now, I feel my parents left me more than fond memories around my birthdays.

What It Meant

They left me a treasure chest of feelings indescribable into words. They chose occasions like birthdays to help me realize that I was that special thing in their life that made their life worth living. Birthdays were a way to be thankful for everything they had and felt, through me or my siblings. To help us understand the happiness that they felt, they created that soft cocoon of happiness around us, which till today we would like to carry as part of some unstated legacy.

The fact that we were cherished, loved and respected is what has made us, the siblings grow strong, emotionally stable and mentally secure. We now don’t crave for material cravings, but rather the companionship of our loved ones on special days to nurture that feeling of warmth and security.

Doing the Same for My Child

This feeling of security is what I wish to create for my son too. A feeling of belonging, being accepted, loved and respected is something that creates that strong capsule of security in our kids’ minds. This feeling of being wanted is what makes them strive towards perfection, in order to please us, or to sustain that feeling of being loved and cherished forever.

Any pitfalls, by way of unacceptability or disrespect from our end, is what throws them off balance and they tend to deviate.

My mother always said that with freedom came responsibility. She extended freedom to me, without drawing any boundaries, sometimes even scaring me. Her excessive faith and freedom is what sometimes scared me and I often questioned myself with my own given freedom.

This fear she believed, created that sense of self-realization in me, the ability to assess myself. This fear of failing in her eyes, shunning the faith that she had put in me, was what helped me pull the reins, when I felt the need to (without having her telling me). I guess it was the fear of me being unaccepted or looking at something they loved and cherished, so defeated, is what spiraled that sense of responsibility in me.

And this feeling of acceptance and belonging got strengthened on such occasions, when I was made to feel special and accepted and loved, despite all flaws.

Although, we don’t need special days to cherish the companionship that we have, yet I wouldn’t deny that birthdays or special occasions are sure shot means of celebrating the bonds that are so special in our lives.

I always look forward to celebrate the birthdays of my loved ones by doing something special. It isn’t always about material things, but definitely the ways in which we make our loved ones feel on their special days that counts. The feeling of being needed and belonged is what makes their D-day, a special memory in many years to come!

As a mother, I would always love my child to remember our special equation through the happy feelings he had on his special days and on not-so special days.

The material things will eventually fade away, but the feelings are what will last in his heart and mind for eternity! He should be able to hold onto these fond memories, and use them as base, to create some more for himself and others in life ahead, even when we are not around.

After all, parenting is all about building memories and what better way than using special occasions like birthdays to create them!

What is the importance of celebrating birthdays? Should we just stop?

 Malvika Roy Singh A freelance creative writer and blogger for the past 7 years, Malvika Roy SIngh writes about subjects like travel, food, lifestyle, health, interior designing, real estate, digital entertainment, media and marketing, education etc. Her parenting blog helps her be a conscious parent (www.wipmom.com) When she is not writing, she can be found either running or playing with her 4 year old son enjoying time reading. She resides in Hyderabad and can be reached at mroysingh@gmail.com

 

Book Recommendation - A Man called Ove-Fredrik Backman

Book Recommendation – A Man called Ove-Fredrik Backman

Crotchety, cantankerous, curmudgeon are all synonyms to define Ove. Living a life high on principles, with a timetable like precision, has always been Ove’s motto in life. In doing so, he doesn’t feel the need to oblige to the societal image of him of being kind and patience. On the contrary, he doesn’t feel the need to be all happy and mindful to appease certain set of people.

When things don’t happen his way, or when encountered with too much of casual behavior, Ove doesn’t shy from giving a piece of his mind and tongue. A sharp reply, followed by oodles of grumpiness and brashness is what people get from him. To him, it’s ok to dislike people or things which don’t happen with perfection and he doesn’t mind having a strong judgmental take about it!

Right from the start of the book, it’s evident that Ove doesn’t like change of any kind.

Be it while terrorizing the Apple salesmen, to not getting his house sold, to pave way for a more modern one, he hates people trying to bring about change of any kind into his life. He is charmingly quaint about certain ideologies and is pretty proud of it! No wonder the morning rounds put him off, especially when he sees a bicycle out of place, along with a mangy cat somewhere!

At the age of 59, driving a Saab, and assuming a life perfectly led, it becomes very difficult to understand why the man has inclination to commit suicide at the first place!

It is with the introduction of his next door neighbors that his character layering starts unfolding. Thanks to the nosy, clumsy neighbors, who ruin his plan of committing suicide at the first place!

His characteristics traits come to surface at this particular point of time, when his neighbors, accidentally bump their trailer into his house, while reversing, and spoil his plan of suicide!

His not-so-perfect-neighbors, a pregnant Persian lady by the name Pervaneh, her clumsy husband and two doting daughters, manage to bring out both perfect and imperfect side of his character. His funny disastrous encounters with them, all bring out the reasons of why Ove is what he is shown to be!

The series of comic encounters involving his neighbors, to the rampant flashbacks showcasing his life, when he was a teen to his work life to his marriage to his wife’s demise, everything points to the satisfying, yet deeply heartbreaking characteristic outcomes in Ove!

My Review 

Right from the start, the plot has added good number of events, to keep the comic flow, yet the slice-of-life feel of the book alive!

The book is all about the art of empathy in the face of all imperfections or seemingly perfectionist characters like Ove! It’s all about developing human connection, just like Pervaneh does, with a character like Ove, who seems difficult, unapproachable, unlikable and worse, hard to co-operate!

It’s about seeing the best in people, no matter what! It’s about appreciating people, who try to give their best, without being natural or obvious in their surface presentation!

The flashback moments of his growing up with his father, his father’s demise, his early adulthood, his working life, his first meeting with his wife, his marriage and his wife’s death, all events generate a deep feeling of empathy and respect for Ove, who is constantly shown to be a man high on morality! His thirty years’ of service, not giving up on his house but rather re-doing it from scratch all vouch for his high moral standards!

This book might seemingly sound depressive, yet comically, it turns out to be an eye-opener, an endearing tale of finding happiness through imperfect of things and situations! Thanks to the character buildup of Ove and Pervaneh by the author! The writer does full justice in bringing about the truth laced with wit and goodness, all sunny side up!

In short, right from the start till the end (the ending is wonderful), the story is heartwarming. I highly recommend it, especially if you are one of those readers for slice-of-life stories and have a knack to appreciate differences around you! This one should not be missed!

  A freelance creative writer and blogger for the past 7 years, Malvika Roy SIngh writes about subjects like travel, food, lifestyle, health, interior designing, real estate, digital entertainment, media and marketing, education etc. Her parenting blog helps her be a conscious parent (www.wipmom.com) When she is not writing, she can be found either running or playing with her 4 year old son enjoying time reading. She resides in Hyderabad and can be reached at mroysingh@gmail.com
Don't Wait for Another School Shooting Incident

Don’t Wait for Another School Shooting Incident

It’s not surprising to read about atrocities against children in newspapers anymore!

Be it murder, sexual offences, child abuse (both verbal and physical), deaths due food poisoning to random shootings, child offences are on a high rise. What is surprising is that most of these offences are happening in schools! Sad, but true, schools are constantly in news for being the backdrop of some or other criminal activity!

Considered to be a safe haven for children, yet unfortunately the schools are constantly in news for safety breach issues. The safety loopholes in schools are now raising eyebrows not just in every household, but even in the board room of educational policy makers! Good in a way, because this is where the next generation is being built, so action should be taken. After all, aren’t schools supposed to be the safety havens for children after homes?

But unfortunately, as soon as the news dies down, people move on.

If the security and safety lapses continue to happen like the way they have been, then how will the schools instill other values, which they proclaim? All these values of building cognitive ability, curiosity, and holistic learning blah blah will all go down the drain, if the safety and security measures go for a toss!

However, I personally feel that these safety and security measures should be a big deal, not just for schools or other educational institutions, but for even us, the parents.

Take a Stand for Safety

Hence, as parents, unless we question or pinpoint the lapses or the problem areas, the school might not do anything. Hence, questioning or raising concerns should be our duty towards building effective school safety system, as well.

After all, as parents we are the primary ones to be answerable for our own child’s safety and security. For this, if you have to cross that extra mile, of questioning the school and the authorities on safety, then don’t hesitate.

Your questions and voices will ring an alarm somewhere and they might look into their problem areas.

For instance, in India, CBSE schools like Kendriya Vidyalaya, have stepped up security concerns, after the murder of a seven year old boy in a popular school in Gurugram. The hue and cry and series of protests after his death was what fuelled the government to step in and take action regarding the school safety.

The CBSE board, post that incident, issued a safety guideline, forcing all the CBSE schools to follow the norms. In fact, the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, which is under the ministry of Human Resources, deployed deputy commissioners in their areas, to foresee any laxity in safety procedures.  Right from background checks of the school staff, to upping the CCTV surveillance for detailed monitoring, schools are now trying to focus on the safety and security of the children than ever before.

Even the private schools, owing to the pressure created by similar incidents have all beefed up their security measures! The only trigger was the collective efforts of the voices that came in the aftermath of such incidents. Sometimes, collective efforts and voices are all that bring a difference or rather a new change.

However, the only unfortunate issue is that we often raise concern after we witness such incidents. Let us not wait for such incidents to happen, but question right away, while everything is fine and seemingly smoothly. Talk to kids about school safety and empower them against tragedy.

Our questions act as trigger or rather a deterrent and force authorities to look into their procedures. If not asked, nobody does anything or takes accountability of anything. The rule is the same for individuals as well as organizations, which in turn are also run by several individuals. Hence, do the needful first as a parent and as an individual and then question! Safety and security of children should be everyone’s concern and not just any one.

  A freelance creative writer and blogger for the past 7 years, Malvika Roy SIngh writes about subjects like travel, food, lifestyle, health, interior designing, real estate, digital entertainment, media and marketing, education etc. Her parenting blog helps her be a conscious parent (www.wipmom.com) When she is not writing, she can be found either running or playing with her 4 year old son enjoying time reading. She resides in Hyderabad and can be reached at mroysingh@gmail.com

How Marrying Outside My Religious Culture Enriched My Life

How Marrying Outside My Religious Culture Enriched My Life

Being born and brought up in the holy city of Varanasi (India), ideally should have made me a lot more religiously inclined than anything else. Thanks to my  parents, I got to see the fun aspect and beauty behind the cultural practices than the pressure to feel religious!

Growing up in a Bengali household,I spoke Bengali at home, ate Bengali cuisine, enjoyed literature the likes of Tagore and Ray.

Through cultural events like “Poush mela”, “Sahitya sammelani”, film festivals, where Bengali literature, cinema or music was brought into discussion, my parents made sure I got my dose of cultural learning from time to time. And through festivals like “Durga Puja”, “Kali Puja” or “Saraswati Puja”, I understood the pattern of worshipping the divine and enjoying other important elements, to the likes mentioned above!

BENGALI CULTURE IN VARANASI

From history to modern day implication of community living and socializing, Bengali pujas are a lot more than showering love and dedication to the gods and goddesses.

Right from my childhood, I have understood that these are ways of enhancing and sustaining large social groups through some common parameters of fun and festivities! They are the opportunities to learn about our cultural heritage, in our wide agenda of social networking! And they work phenomenally well!

Growing up in Varanasi, which is primarily what my parents called a non-bengali city, also exposed me largely to the city’s local festivals and religious practices as well. With festivals like Holi, Diwali, Sankranti, Shivaratri etc., I sensed the religious fervor and flavor of the locals. Since, my mother was a devout Hindu, I got to relive this different  side of Hinduism as well.

However, in this largely proclaimed Hindu city, my exposure to other religion, their festivities or their cultural understanding was less.

PicturesIndia

MEETING MY HUSBAND

I met my husband (a Sikh) during my growing years, yet I hardly understood what it was like living in a Sikh household. I was too young to grasp the dynamics of life and living in one!

When my marriage was being discussed, my family inadvertently made me look into the implications of marrying a Sikh (almost as if I was marrying an alien).

It was my irritation, coupled with forced curiosity of sorts that made me learn a few details of Sikhism. From food, clothing, culture, music to religious practices and festivals, I decoded a few details. For instance, covering the head, while preparing kada prasad( the customary wheat halwa at gurudwara) even when it is at home and getting it touched by the kirpan. Food is  an important element in daily life and needs to be well balanced, music goes beyond yo-yo-Honey Singh etc.

I studied a little bit of all. However, without demo, theory doesn’t sink in. Hence, I realized a lot more about the cultural norms, including certain customary practices and a lot more only through marriage.

[bctt tweet=”What happens when a person goes out of their religious culture and marries another? My story is an example of what magic could happen. ” username=”contactrwc”]

PARENTING IN A MULTI RELIGIOUS HOUSEHOLD

When my kid arrived, the religious implications seemed larger. Suddenly, I felt responsible for thrusting whatever was my understanding of my culture (both mine and my better half’s) on him. I realized he was as much a Sikh as a Hindu. It was with his arrival that I felt the need to consciously practice the non-Hindu part of him with great gusto.

Now, I feel the need to connect to people of Sikhism, so as to understand living and loving the world, from another perspective. And all this, so as to be able to teach my son the brighter and beautiful aspect of seeing the world from two unique lenses.

Now after some eight years of marriage, if someone asks me how much of a Punjabi have I become, then I can say with some confidence that I have reached at least 50 per cent of the space. Till then, I will consciously love, live and propagate it in the life of my child, so that he becomes aware of his roots

Besides these two religions, due to frequent relocations and travels, I have been and again, not-been-a-part of so many cultures that I feel that now I’m a true blue cosmopolitan. This is what is helping me break my social barriers and reach out to make new friends across all cultures and religions.

Similar should be the kind of world for my son. He should not label himself as a Bengali or Punjabi, but a multinational, who is able to connect, accept and embrace everyone, irrespective of any religion or ethnicity.

HARMONY IN LIFE

My marriage, although was seen religious retardation of sorts (as per some of our wise relatives), yet to me, it has been a source of religious harmony in my household. I love being a Bengali as much as I love being a Punjabi, but when it comes to plain social networking, I don’t feel the need to look beyond the humane aspect of one’s character.

I wish to bring this advantage to my son. We consciously celebrate all festivals, help him participate in the customary religious and social events from different cultures and communities (not just Bengali or Punjabi), help him interact with people and enjoy their cultural differences (by way of food, religious practices etc.) and much more.

His unique genetics should aid him in breaking social barriers across all ethnicity and that is what I intend to do with some conscious social skill building exercises. I’m so thankful for all my marriage brings to my life.

What is your marriage story? Share in the comments below. I love hearing other’s stories of love. How did LOVE enrich your Life ? 

Does Marrying Outside Of Religion or Culture Affect Life ? Enjoy The Story of How Marrying outside religion enriched our writer's life.

  A freelance creative writer and blogger for the past 7 years, Malvika Roy SIngh writes about subjects like travel, food, lifestyle, health, interior designing, real estate, digital entertainment, media and marketing, education etc. Her parenting blog helps her be a conscious parent (www.wipmom.com) When she is not writing, she can be found either running or playing with her 4 year old son enjoying time reading. She resides in Hyderabad and can be reached at mroysingh@gmail.com