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Ramadan – How is it Different Globally During Lockdown

Ramadan, the blessed and most beautiful time of the year for Muslims is here. But do you realize the difference this lockdown period makes to Muslims around the world?

A month…when Muslims all around the world fast from sunrise to sunset.
A month…when the whole family comes together for the ritual breaking of the fast called ‘Futoor’ (Arabic) or ‘Iftar’ (Urdu).
A month…when mosques all around the globe are full of worshippers.
A month…when most Muslim households are lit in the early hours of the morning, to take the pre-dawn meal called ‘Suhoor’ (Arabic) or ‘Sehri’ (Urdu).

Ramadan 2020 was unlike any other Ramadan ever! Most countries were in lockdown due to the Corona virus pandemic, so mosques were closed and gatherings were not allowed. It was perhaps the first time in the lifetime of billions of Muslims that they did not go to the mosques to pray. Late night congregational prayers called ‘Taraweeh’, which takes place only in the month of Ramadan, were not being held. Community Iftars at the mosque were cancelled. Public gatherings were banned.
And a year later, with the entire world facing a surge in Covid cases, we are back to square one. And let me tell you why all of this makes a big difference to the Muslims observing Ramadan around the globe.

Taraweeh Prayers – when the community comes together!

When I got married and began going for the Taraweeh prayers with my husband’s family, I remember it was at the mosque where I met most of the in-law’s friends, and their daughters and daughter-in-laws. After the prayer was over, we would meet and greet each other in the mosque compound. Some of the ladies I met were those who I would meet or see only once a year…during the Taraweeh prayers in Ramadan.

ramadan lockdown

It was almost like seeing someone’s growth curve once a year – some came back the next year married, some with babies, some kids grew into teenagers, and some women came back with more wrinkles than the previous year. It was always wonderful to catch a glimpse and smile back at someone, who you would see for just one month in a year. Indians, Pakistanis, Kuwaitis, Americans, British, Sri Lankans, Egyptians, Turkish, Filipinos, Somalis…it was such a great feeling to see them all come together under one roof for the same purpose – to worship God!

Community Iftars at the local Mosque

Another thing that is so relevant to the month of Ramadan is the community Iftar (breaking of the fast) at the local mosque. Most mosques conduct daily or weekly community Iftars, which are sponsored by local businesses, organizations, charities or families. People assemble at the mosque and sit in rows, with food laid out in front of them. And this is a great test for patience!

A typical Iftar meal consists of some dates, fruits, buttermilk or sharbat, savory fritters (Pakodas), chickpea salad (Chana Chaat), dumplings in yogurt (Dahi Wade), soup and a rice dish with gravy. More than the adults, its the children who look forward enthusiastically to community Iftars. For the kids, the Iftar meal box is equivalent to a ‘surprise bag’; they just can’t wait to see which fruit is inside, what flavor juice did they get, and if the snack given on that day is their favorite or not.

At the time of dusk, the Maghrib prayer is called, and everyone breaks their fast with dates and water first. After breaking the fast, people stand in congregation to pray. Such Iftars are a great way of teaching the kids and youth community work – they learn to serve food to all, give out water, clean up after, and tidy up the mosque before leaving.

Iftars for family, friends and neighbors – a time to bond over food!

Ramadan is a time of togetherness – a time to eat  together and a time to pray together. Most people look forward to meeting their near and dear ones over Iftar gatherings. Family, friends, neighbors – all invite you over in turns and then it’s your turn to invite them over for Iftar! Every Iftar gathering has a variety of foods and some specialties too.

Also, Iftar gatherings are most loved by women because it gives them a break from their own kitchen. Imagine the happiness of not cooking and just being served delicious food…it’s a priceless feeling! Unfortunately, most women must have forgotten what this feels like because the pandemic has left them with no other option but to cook and serve, due to the ban on all gatherings.

Realizing the TRUE ESSENCE during Lockdown

Congregational prayers, community Iftars, family gatherings – Muslims around the world may be missing it all BUT the one thing the pandemic has taught us – is to be grateful for what we have, no matter what situation we are in!

When Ramadan was approaching last year, most Muslims were dwelling in the thoughts of how it would be? Initially, there was a feeling of sadness as most of us knew that we may me missing out on a lot of the usual Ramadan activities and rituals that we grew up doing. Yet, no one would have imagined it to be so different…so much better actually!

ramadan lockdown

Due to the complete lockdown, people were working from home, and children were off from school as well. This gave people more time to read and reflect upon the Holy Quran, to increase their prayers, to collectively do acts of worship with their immediate family members. Suddenly, everyone had so much more time on hand to do a multitude of acts of good deeds, versus the usual being stuck in traffic, trying to get home in time for breaking the fast, having lack of time and sleep, long working hours while fasting, etc.

Being in isolation and away from the distractions of the world helps one realize the true essence and importance of what they have. It teaches us to be grateful for our blessings and assess our needs over our wants. And this is why we often say “Alhumdullilah”, which translates to ‘Praise be to God’ or ‘Thank God’. We must be thankful to God at all times because we may not know what is in store for us or what is good for us. But God’s plans are always better and we must have trust in what God wills for us.

This year once again, most Muslims around the world will experience a Ramadan in lockdown. But they shall look forward to entering this blessed month with the HOPE of increased time for worship and more opportunities to gain multiple rewards. In sha Allah!

its ok

Children’s Books Inspired by the Life of Martin Luther King

“I dream of a day when people will be judged, not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” – Martin Luther King Jr

Here are books you can read with your children inspired by the life of MLK Junior

📚Build a diverse library for diverse dialogue within your local community by recommending books to your local library.✊🏾

Tall or short, big or small, skinny or plump…every child is unique! Some children love to read, while others love to sing or dance. Some children wear glasses, while some may talk with an accent. Some children love to socialize and mingle, while others love their own space and privacy.

Every child comes with their own set of character traits and individuality, and they must be appreciated for being different yet the same. What matters is the content of their character.

Here’s a book list to inspire self-confidence in children:

It’s OK to be Different

*Gold Award Winner, Literary Titan

It’s OK to be Different written by Sharon Purtill and illustrated by Sujata Saha presents individuality. Everything about it is inspiring. Children will enjoy the fun and clever rhymes, as they are drawn in by the bright and cheerful illustrations. It is one of those books that both children and adults can enjoy, as it delivers the perfect message to young readers.

This story has effectively imparted an ever important lesson that individuality should be celebrated and not shunned. It encourages kids to accept and befriend those who are different from themselves. Showing young children that they don’t have to look alike or enjoy doing the same activities to be kind to one another.

When Martin Luther King Jr. Wore Roller Skates

 

 

Martin Luther King Jr. led the American Civil Rights Movement. But do you know what he was like as a child? From roller skating to playing football and basketball, Martin was a fun-loving child. This playful story of his childhood will help young readers connect with a historic figure and will inspire them to want to achieve greatness.

ONE LOVE

Adapted from one of Bob Marley’s most beloved songs, One Love brings the joyful spirit and unforgettable lyrics of his music to life for a new generation. Readers will delight in dancing to the beat and feeling the positive groove of change when one girl enlists her community to help transform her neighborhood for the better. Adapted by Cedella Marley, Bob Marley’s first child, and gorgeously illustrated by Vanessa Newton, this heart-warming picture book offers an upbeat testament to the amazing things that can happen when we all get together with one love in our hearts.

I HAVE A DREAM

From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter, Dr. Bernice A. King: “My father’s dream continues to live on from generation to generation, and this beautiful and powerful illustrated edition of his world-changing “I Have a Dream” speech brings his inspiring message of freedom, equality, and peace to the youngest among us—those who will one day carry his dream forward for everyone.”

On August 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, Martin Luther King gave one of the most powerful and memorable speeches in our nation’s history. His words, paired with Caldecott Honor winner Kadir Nelson’s magnificent paintings, make for a picture book certain to be treasured by children and adults alike. The themes of equality and freedom for all are not only relevant today, 50 years later, but also provide young readers with an important introduction to our nation’s past.

The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts

One small act of kindness can change the world. From esteemed bullying expert and author of The Invisible Boy, Trudy Ludwig and Little Elliot illustrator Mike Curato comes a tale as simple–and simply inspiring–as the golden rule.

When one child reaches out in friendship to a classmate who seems lonely, she begins a chain reaction of kindness that ripples throughout her school and her community. One kind act begets another, small good deeds make way for bigger ones, and eventually the whole neighborhood comes together to build something much greater than the sum of its parts.

As Trudy says in the final line of the book: “Acts and words of kindness DO count, and it all starts with ONE.”

Civil Rights Then and Now

This civil rights book for kids is simultaneously a guide for parents and educators who worry about broaching the topics of racism, discrimination, and prejudice. Civil Rights Then and Now: A Timeline of the Fight for Equality in America presents the reader with facts, biographies, and landmark supreme court cases in an easily digestible manner and within a historical context. The minor editorializing helps to guide readers to understand the events that have shaped the United States and then challenges them to become advocates for change. From the embarrassing origins of Slavery to the modern struggle against systemic and overt oppression, this book will spark conversations about subjects that we can no longer afford to ignore.

I am BRAVE

The littlest readers can learn about Martin Luther King, Jr., in this board book version of the New York Times bestselling Ordinary People Change the World biography.

This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great—the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. In this new board book format, the very youngest readers can learn about one of America’s icons in the series’ signature lively, conversational way. The short text focuses on drawing inspiration from these iconic heroes, and includes an interactive element and factual tidbits that young kids will be able to connect with. This volume tells the story of Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights leader

How Our Skin Sparkles

Read this story of Aarav who comes home one day wondering why he looks different. See how science, culture and concept enable this child being raised on the borders of multiple cultures to see himself and those around him in a new light.

The Sparkling Series books for global kids is geared to empower kids aged 5-10. Perfect for boys, girls, early readers and elementary school students. Excellent resource for counselors, parents, and teachers alike.
Diversify your library with this award-winning children’s book that talks about body positivity and inclusion.

Children's Books Inspired by the Life of Martin Luther King

References:-
www.bookdepository.com
https://books.google.com
www.goodreads.com
www.penguinrandomhouse.com
www.amazon.com

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Children’s Books about Hair Loss

Hair loss can be super embarrassing for many, be it through natural causes, cancer or alopecia. It is wonderful that there are so many books today that help build confidence and empathy within children, about being body positive in a variety of ways.

September was Alopecia Awareness month and we were honored to come across these books that not only raise awareness about hair loss and how it feels, but also help kids build empathy and inclusion within, for those who may be suffering.

Click on some of our favorite hair loss book covers to explore this condition with your kids  –

NOWHERE HAIR

The little girl in NOWHERE HAIR knows two things: Her mom’s hair is not on her head anymore, so therefore it must be somewhere around the house. After searching the obvious places, the story reveals that her mother, although going through cancer treatment, is still silly, attentive, happy and yes, sometimes very tired and cranky. She learns that she didn’t cause the cancer, can’t catch it, and that Mommy still is very much up for the job of mothering. For any parent or grandparent, NOWHERE HAIR offers a comfortable platform to explain something that is inherently very difficult.

My Hair Went on Vacation

This story is about Rosie, who lives in Chicago.
Within three weeks she lost all of her hair and asked, “Where did it go?”
Rosie loved to rock the bald, without even skipping a beat.
She happily wore sunscreen—not even a hat!—in the summer heat.
At bedtime, Rosie would tell her own stories with a smile on her face.
She’d imagine her hair going on magical adventures all over the place.
From a young age, Rosie loved herself and was not phased by her look,
So her mother decided to share her spirit to teach others through this book.
Come on this adventure with a confident bald girl,
Who tells us ”Bald is beautiful!” as she smiles with a twirl.
We hope this book can inspire you to love others as they are,
And to love yourself every day, whether your hair is near or far.

The Girl With No Hair: A Story About Alopecia Areata

Kelly looks back at her years of learning to live with alopecia areata, a disease which causes hair loss. This light-hearted story follows her from diagnosis as a small child, to coping with the social and emotional implications of her condition, to gaining the understanding and acceptance of her peers and teachers.

Who Are You?: Ella the Enchanted Princess

In a beautiful kingdom, hidden beyond the Enchanted Forest, lived a young princess named Ella. She was different from other princesses, Ella had no hair. She often tries to hide her head with scarves and headbands and doesn’t like looking into mirrors. Ella always dreams of one day exploring beyond the majestic doors of the castle. However, to do that, she must pass through the Grand Hall, but there are so many dreaded mirrors on the walls. These mirrors are the guardians of the castle, and will not let anyone pass unless they are recognized.

Join Ella on her first adventure through the Grand Hall! Why don’t the mirrors know Ella, and what will she have to do to leave her room and explore?

Mum, where is your hair? 

Join a curious child search here, there and everywhere, for their mother’s hair. Every page is an illustration of an imaginative adventure, taking the child on a fun journey to realise that their mother’s hair loss is nothing to fear.

The rhyming magical storyline features fairies, animals, mermaids, and pirates. The colorful illustrations and repetitive sentences are perfect to be read aloud or with children, allowing the audience to quickly become absorbed and familiar with the sentences.

Dad’s Bald Head

Pete’s dad has very little hair to comb. And what he does have looks a bit, shall we say, scraggly? Every day Pete tries to help him neaten it, but every day the hairs pop right back up. Well, this dad has had enough! One day while shaving, Dad just keeps . . . on . . . going. He shaves off every single one of those scrawny, scraggly hairs.

Pete isn’t sure what to think of his new, bald Dad. He looks like an egg, or a kickball. Not a Dad. As Pete’s parents help him to embrace this shiny, new, bald head, young readers will recognize the challenge of dealing with changes, big and small, in their own lives.

Shreya’s Very Own Style

“Shreya’s Very Own Style” is a story about self-love and acceptance. Though Shreya is a champion on the soccer field, the coolest scientist at her school and dances like a star, she just can’t seem to figure out how else to style her hair. After all, how would she explain the patches on her head with no hair at all?

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Understanding the Significance and Blessings of Ramadan

The monotheistic religion of Islam is built upon five pillars and these pillars are the basic duties of a Muslim. Just like every country has a set Constitution and every organization has it’s own Code of Conduct, Islam too has a set of prescribed duties that prepare a Muslim to obey God in all affairs of their life.

The five pillars are namely, Declaration of Faith (Shahadah), Prayer (Salah), Charity (Zakat), Fasting (Sawm) and Hajj (Pilgrimage to the House of Allah in Makkah). Fasting is the 4th pillar of Islam and is observed in the month of Ramadan.


Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims follow a lunar calendar, which is based on the cycle of the moon. A new lunar month begins with a crescent (new moon). Similar to the solar calendar, the lunar calendar has 12 months too. The months of a lunar calendar consist of 29 or 30 days. Therefore, Muslims fast for 29 or 30 days in Ramadan.

Significance of this Blessed Month

Ramadan is the month in which Allah (God in Arabic) sent the Holy Quran from the heavens to the earth. The last messenger, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) received the first revelation of the Quran, while he was meditating in the Cave of Hira situated in Mount Nur (Saudi Arabia). In the year 610, during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan, Angel Jibrail (Gabriel) appeared to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in his full angelic form and said, “Iqra! (Read)”

The Prophet informed him that he did not know how to read or write. Angel Jibrail (Gabriel) then asked Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to repeat the verses after him. “Read in and with the Name of your Lord, Who has created. Created human from a clot clinging to the wall of the womb. Read, and your Lord is the Most Generous, who has taught human by the pen. He has taught human that which he knew not.” (Surah Al-Alaq: Verses 1-5, Holy Quran) These revelations from Allah went on to form the Holy Quran.

Another significance of Ramadan is that all the previous scriptures were revealed in this month. Dawud (David) received the Zabur (Psalms), Musa (Moses) received the Tawrah (Torah) and Isa (Jesus) received the Injil (Gospel/Bible) during this month. All the previous scriptures carried the same monotheistic message – to believe in One God.

Blessings of Ramadan

“The month of Ramadan in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, and clear proofs for the guidance and Criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights the Crescent on the first night of the month of Ramadan should fast that month.” (Surah Al-Baqarah: Verse 185, Holy Quran) 

The month of Ramadan is a great favor from Allah. It is a month of goodness and wonderful blessings.

  • Ramadan is a month of Patience. Fasting helps us to protect our desires and develop discipline. We learn to suppress our hunger and anger. Fasting strengthens our character and makes us more patient.
  • Ramadan is a month of Sympathy. God gives us the opportunity to feel what the less fortunate people feel and go through. Fasting teaches us the value of food, importance of sharing and teaches us not to be greedy.
  • Ramadan is a month of Giving. It teaches us to be sympathetic towards the less fortunate and encourages us to give charity. Rewards for all good deeds, however small or big, are multiplied in the month of Ramadan.
  • The gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed. Even the devils are chained up this month, making man responsible for his own actions. Hence, this month gives us a good opportunity for Self-reflection.
  • Ramadan is a month of Forgiveness. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Whoever observes fasting during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s reward (not to show off), then all his past sins will be forgiven.” – (Bukhari)
  • The Holy Night of Laylat-ul-Qadr, also know as the Night of Power, is a single night worth a thousand months of reward. This night falls among the last days of Ramadan and it is on this night that the Holy Quran was revealed. Any good deeds or acts performed on this night is equivalent to the reward for a thousand months. There are many acts of worship (prayer, remembrance of God, charity, supplications, etc.) that a person can do on this day to maximize their reward and blessings.

Understanding the Significance and Blessings of Ramadan

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Top 5 Web-Series for Kids to Watch

Lost In Space

Lost In Space is a perfect mix of sci-fi, adventure and drama all packed into one series. This web-series follows the adventures of the Robinson family, whose spaceship gets lost in space and lands on an unknown planet. Will, Judy and Penny, the three Robinson siblings along with their parents dare to take on the unpredictable environment, aliens, robots and other conniving survivors on the unknown planet. Lost In Space is an absolutely addictive series, so don’t forget to keep that popcorn ready. Definitely a family binge-watch!
Watch Season 1 and 2 on Netflix.

Raising Dion

Raising Dion is the story of a single-mother Nicole and her son Dion, who begins to display some superhero powers. Nicole, who is slowly coping with the loss of her husband Mark, now has a new task of figuring out where and how Dion got his superpowers. She along with Mark’s best friend Pat, are on a mission to uncover the truth. Dion goes on to explore his magical powers and realizes all doesn’t seem to be how it is. An interesting web-series and a must-watch for little kids!
Watch Season 1 on Netflix.

 

The Unlisted

Unlisted is an Australian drama web-series that follows the story of identical twins – Dhruv and Kal. A secret government organization plans to control and track Australian students by implanting them with electronic chips. The Twins uncover this dark truth and set out on a journey to save themselves and others like them, who form the mysterious Infinity group. Unlisted should definitely be on your list if you like an exhilarating watch, which keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Watch Season 1 on Netflix.

 

Gortimer Gibbon’s Life On Normal Street

Gortimer Gibbon’s is the story of Gortimer and his two bestfriends, Mel and Ranger. Together the three friends go about on an adventurous journey in the ordinary suburb of Normal Street. This web-series filled with lost fables, ghost stories and magical adventures makes a fun watch for children of all ages.
Watch Season 1 and 2 on Amazon Prime Video.

 

A Series of Unfortunate Events

This web-series chronicles the tale of three orphans – Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who are on a mission to investigate the tragic and mysterious death of their parents. Count Olaf, their evil guardian is out to get his hands on the Baudelaires’ inheritance. In this quest of Good v/s Evil, the three Baudelaire children must outsmart Olaf and overcome many trials. The series is based on the best-selling series of books by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler).
Watch Season 1, 2 and 3 on Netflix.

 

IF you enjoyed our recommendations, you will certainly enjoy our children’s book. “Why do I look different? ” , the answer many mothers get asked.

 

raising responsible citizens

Raising Responsible Citizens – The Need Today for Collective Reform

The world’s largest democracy India, recently underwent the process of electing their new government and thus, political debates seem to be the favorite past-time of the season. We have all become way too familiar with terms like Liberals, Conservatives, Nationalists, Socialists, Right Wing, Left Wing, etc. Most developed countries are undergoing elections or are in a transition-phase. It is more important now than ever that we focus on raising responsible citizens.

Unfortunately, the system of gaining votes by banishing the opposition, ridiculing women and name-calling is what makes these developed countries seem to be on the contrary.

Development doesn’t necessarily only represent a huge infrastructure, tall buildings, swanky metros, huge shopping malls, big universities and out-of-the-world touristic hotspots.

Development of a nation needs to start at a grass-root level, with each individual.

Development begins in the mind first. Development lies in humanity, and is reflected in compassion, empathy and acceptance. If most so-called ‘developed countries’ had to go by these parameters of development, they would come out to be as the most under-developed nations. Unfortunately, we seem to have lost humanity and empathy for our fellow citizens, on a national and global level.

Collective Reform on the “Me First” Attitude

Unfortunately, this is where our system has failed us. Instead of making us think at a community level, each one of us is busy thinking at an individual level. Personal gains and benefits is what seem to matter the most.

Believe it or not, this ‘Me First’ thinking needs to be uprooted, for the betterment of our society. For it begins at our homes, where we teach our kids to look out for themselves first before others.

This thinking is further fueled by competitiveness at school and eventually turns into a mentality, which is very hard to break free from. And by the time we are done with school and college and ready to take up a job, we are told that now we will know about how hard and cruel this world is. Do we even realize that we are training ourselves to become that ‘hard and cruel’ part that we are always warned about?

We tend to begin most new phases of our lives with sheer competitiveness and selfishness. Competition over GPA, over who is getting more perks at work, over whose baby begins walking first, over whose food tastes betters and the list can go on.

Why can’t we just celebrate these milestones and achievements without comparing it to someone else? Why can’t we just take pride in that moment and be grateful for what we have achieved? Why do we have to out-do someone else or put someone down to make ourselves feel better? Does self-worth always have to come at someone else’s expense?

What was once just a thought process then gets imbibed into us and becomes a mentality. This eccentric mentality then lives with us forever and very few people are fortunate enough to break away from it. We get so used to thriving on others failures that we forget to cherish our own joys. And this is exactly what is happening all around us and this is why we see a huge rise in relationship instability, financial instability, depression, anxiety, bullying, substance abuse and other social and mental problems.

Raising Responsible Citizens – The Need Today for Collective Reform

Raising Responsible Citizens

We need to start with mentoring the younger generation to uplift each other and look out for one another. A few ways how we can train our children to become more compassionate towards others are:-

 

Sharing is Caring

 As toddlers and pre-schoolers, we need to emphasize to our little ones the importance of sharing and what better way to start than by sharing toys. This may be extremely hard for the child but eventually he/she will be able to shake off this feeling.
Children should be taught to share with their friends and classmates at school. Water, snacks, school supplies or notes…what they share doesn’t matter. What matters is that they don’t hold on to things only for themselves and open up their hands (and hearts) to others.
The one thing every child can never have enough of is toys. So if your child insists on hoarding toys, teach him/her to give away one old toy for every new one they get. They can give it away in charity or give it to a friend. The emphasis here should be on sharing and NOT on parting away with something.

Fiscal Responsibility

If you give your child pocket money, ensure to also educate them about budgeting, saving and caring. Teach them to spend within their limit, to save some for later and to give a part of it towards charity. This way we are training them to grow up to become responsible and compassionate adults. Allow them to give some charity themselves to the homeless, less fortunate, community helpers, etc.

Be a Helping Hand

Every now and then, send some food to your neighbors and ask your children to give it to them. This is one of the best ways for a child to learn how to share first-hand.

While trying to raise our kids well and teach them empathy, we are in turn bettering ourselves too. Every act of teaching someone to be good OR do a good deed is in fact a starting point for us, towards improving ourselves. And anything done habitually can turn a thought into a thought-process. So why not make it a POSITIVE one!

Activism

It is so important to teach our kids early to speak up about what needs to be better. Don’t forget to read these 20 ways to inspire kids by showing up every day with little acts of activism. It is the little things, that make a big difference as a collective.

 

Read Books


Before building and developing the infrastructure and economy of a country, we need to start developing its’ citizens first.

And the best way to go forth is by focusing on building character. Tolerance, acceptance, compassion, respect, humanity, empathy are just to name a few of the characteristics that need to be imbibed into people.

For this is where, the true success of development lies!

 

You can find more easy activities you can do at home with your kids here.

 

We Need to Be Mindful About Our Impatience with Children

We Need to Be Mindful About Our Impatience with Children

Do you notice yourself getting more and more impatient with your children?

Human nature is such that we are always craving for more. In our teen years, we are constantly craving for freedom. In the 20’s, we look forward to having fun, getting a good job, buying the newest gadget and more. When we reach our 30’s, we think of traveling, marriage and buying a house.

So this vicious circle of always wanting more never stops. Growing older doesn’t necessary help this process BUT growing wiser definitely helps put things into perspective.

Accept it or deny it but one of the most important reasons we get married is to procreate. A few honeymoons later, everyone begins to think of having children. One of the biggest mistakes most adults make today is listing ‘Having Children’ in their checklist of duties to do. Oh and believe it or not, some of us can’t wait to put a ‘tick’ on that box.

Children are truly a blessing of God and as their parents it is our duty to nurture them with love and care. During pregnancy, we tend to be very cautious and take care of every little detail of our daily routine. We do everything that would NOT harm the baby. And when the baby enters this world, we become even more careful and protective and do everything to care for this little being, who is totally dependent on us.

But as parenthood progresses, we tend to take our blessings for granted. We are overcome with impatience and feel pressured by our changing lifestyle. The journey of a happy couple to new parents and then to being responsible and hands-on parents can be a bumpy one sometimes. In the quest to be perfect parents, we often want to be in control of everything and that is when things seem to fall apart.

Real Reasons Behind the Growing Impatience with Our Kids

We lose patience easily and become extremely intolerant towards our kids. We begin to expect them to behave like adults, forgetting that they are still children because they are not so little anymore.

 

Some reasons why parents tend to be overly intolerant or impatient towards their children are:-

Multitasking

We often want to have control of everything happening around us and prefer to multitask than to delegate. Women especially are known to be great at multitasking but how good are we at managing the stress that comes with it. In the quest of controlling everything, we tend to be intolerant and neglectful towards our children and tend to respond to them only after our work is completed.

Marital Issues

We Need to Be Mindful About Our Impatience with Children. Reduce impatience with Children

In most marital problems and arguments, it is an innocent child who bears the brunt. We need to vent out our frustration somewhere, and children can be those soft targets. The age and maturity of a child doesn’t matter. Whether it is a small child or a teenager, the effect of our anger and anguish is always negative.

During a heated argument, we don’t raise our hands on our spouse because that would be physical abuse and no one wants to be accounted for domestic violence. Instead, we lose our cool on the kids and raise our hands on them (because no one looks at this as child abuse).

Financial Stress

The slowing economy, job cuts and inflation can put pressure on any household. This in turn leads to making us impatient and agitated, and we tend to lose our mind at the kids more often, when things get out of control at home. If you sit back and think about it, children are not affected by these socio-economic factors because they don’t have an understanding of it, and at the end of the day they are only being what they are…children!

Work-Home Balance

Trying to maintain a work-home balance can be very taxing, when there are children and/or other family members involved. Finding a good helper, a caring nanny or the right daycare can be very challenging for most parents.

Long working hours and work-related stress takes a toll on most individuals. Worked-up individuals then carry forward their frustrations and agitations to their family. Parents either tend to snap at their children or ignore them completely, while trying to deal with their daily problems.

Competitive Nature

Parents these days are very competitive and want their children to excel in all aspects of life (which is not ideally possible!) We tend to overlook one very important thing – whether our child is enjoying the learning process or not.

Structured learning post-school hours can in fact bore a child and make him less interested in learning newer things because anything monotonous is never appealing. We need to start letting our kids plan their learning and play time according to how or what they feel that day.

Of course that doesn’t mean we let them play with gadgets all day. We can help them with their choices and steer them in the right direction, which will empower them to make correct decisions as adults.


Phone Anxiety/Gadget Addiction

We have gotten so used to sliding, swiping and switching from one page to another that we think we can use this flipping technique to shoo away our kids too. Children need care, attention and time and we cannot just slide them off like a notification on the phone. As parents, we need to pull the plug on gadget addiction and re-focus on our children.

Selfishness

Some parents refuse to let go off their pre-parenthood lifestyle for their own selfish reasons. They arrange for play dates to get their children off their back, enroll them in back-to-back classes to have less of them to deal with, spend the weekend shopping or dining with friends (while the kids are back home).

The fear of losing out on fun with friends often makes parents neglect their kids over the weekend, which in reality is a time for family-bonding. Striking a good balance between having a social life and spending time with family is important. Choosing the former over the latter can have devastating effects on our children.

We must remember that our negative behavior towards children can have very damaging effects on them. It can result in:

Childhood/teenage depression and anxiety (which usually carries forward in to adulthood)
• Susceptible to bullying
• Lack of motivation and goals
• Low self-esteem and self-confidence
• Become social misfits or introverts
• Addiction to drugs, alcohol, gadgets and material pleasures

Let’s hope to make a few changes in our lifestyle and re-think our priorities. In a few years, when our children have gone away to acquire an education or for better work prospects, we will be left longing for them.

Let’s not make them long for our genuine love and affection as children. NOW is the time to spend their best years being there for them, so that when they go away, they have a reason to come back. NOW is the time to listen to them, so that when they grow up and need advice, they know where to look for it.

The best use we can make of our love and time is to INVEST it in our CHILDREN!

Preparing for the Lifelong Journey of Learning

Preparing for the Lifelong Journey of Learning

“Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

Every subject in school cannot be a favorite. I used to enjoy Social Science and Biology in school. Particularly, learning about the geographical demographics of a place, maps, climates, old civilizations, etc. Perhaps, this is why I signed up for classes in Anthropology, Human Behaviors and Astronomy at University. They were such fun, interesting and interactive classes. Apart for Art, learning about different cultures fascinated me. Learning about human psychological behaviors intrigued me. But I totally detested Math in school, I think I still do!

At different stages of school, I aspired to be a Social Sciences teacher, a criminal lawyer, an archaeologist, a fashion designer, a graphic designer. To think of it now, I was always role-playing in my mind and learning a new subject enthusiastically.

There was a time I was so intrigued by space (Oh I still am) that I wanted to be an astronaut. But going away from family sounded a bit too hard so I thought of being an astronomer. Unfortunately, it would require a lot of Math, and Math was never my best friend.

The only time I enjoyed learning Math was at University because the level of Math in American universities is equivalent to primary and elementary school Math of the Indian system. I got perfect scores in Math at university because I was great at Venn diagrams and pie-charts (no, seriously!) Today, as adults we know that trigonometry and algebra formulas are not going to help get a job, pay the rent, find a spouse or for that matter even catch a mouse!

On the other hand, my daughter enjoys learning Science and loves to solve Math problems. But she isn’t too fond of the Social Sciences. Sometimes I wonder how is that possible? Then I remind myself that she isn’t me and I’m not her. She is an extension of me but an individual in herself. She has the right to choose what she likes and develop her interests based on her own choices.

Making Learning Fun

So I try to make the ‘non-favorite’ subjects fun for here and try to teach her through story-telling, visuals and real-life examples. I tell her to relate what she learns, to what she has seen or experienced.

For instance, once she was confused when she was learning about ‘Terrestrial Plants’ growing in different regions. So I told her to remember the pine cones and coniferous trees she saw in Chicago (cold/hilly region), to think of the banyan and mango trees she plays around at the park in Mumbai (plains), to think of the rubber and coconut trees in the backyard of our house in Florida (hot and damp region), and not to forget the date palms and cactus that she sees here in Kuwait (desert region).

The next time she was learning about ‘Aquatic Plants’, she told me that floating plants are like duckweed that we saw in Bali, fixed plants are like the lotus we saw in Sri Lanka and underwater plants are like the plants we saw when we went snorkeling at Peanut Island in Florida. Instantly, I knew that she was learning and not just memorizing. She was reasoning and coming up with answers for herself.

Personally, I think this kind of learning is a bigger achievement than just getting good grades or a perfect score on a test. Integrating learning with experiences and memories will definitely help retain the information longer or forever.

Memorizing without understanding, and studying without the desire of learning will always make learning seem like a task. We must always reiterate to our kids that they should study to learn, and not just to remember until the next test or exam.

We should teach our children that learning is a journey and not a computerized input-output process. With so many living robots all around, we need to strive hard to nurture the human mind and heart, so that this world will be a better place for them to live in. A deeper understanding of what we learn will also help us become more compassionate towards each other and our environment.

Today, I enjoy the process of learning new things even more. One of the reasons why learning is still fun is probably because my parents never forced their aspirations on me or steered me in a way that didn’t interest me. I am indeed grateful to them for letting me make my educational and personal decisions.

The Progression of Learning

As life progresses and our thought process changes (or we get wiser), our interests change too. Currently, Nutritional Science and Religion interests me. A few years later, it may well be something else. So we must remember that learning is not limited to schools, universities and institutions. Learning can take place anywhere and anytime. Just like evolution, learning is an ongoing process so we might as well make it fun for our children and ourselves.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

 These are such powerful words that capture the true essence of learning. We must remember that the best part about learning is that the knowledge we acquire solely belongs to us and no one can take it away.

Guide for Desserts Enjoyed During Indian Festivals

Guide for Desserts Enjoyed During Indian Festivals

Diwali, Christmas, Eid, Holi, Navroz, Lohri, Onam, Pongal and the list can just go on. Festivals are a very important part of the Indian culture. If festivals are the heart of India, festive sweets are like their soul. Festive sweets are like food for the soul because they are not only irresistibly delectable but also have a ton of emotions and memories attached to them.

You can never get over your childhood favorite ‘sheer khurma’ made by Grandma on Eid.
And the Diwali aura around the mithai/sweet shops at Chandni Chowk in Delhi.
The aroma of ‘Christmas cake’ that fills the streets in December.
And the irresistible smell of ‘hot jalebis’ during Holi.

And the irresistible smell of ‘hot jalebis’  during Holi.Taste and aroma are well-known to transport us back in time, to some of the best memories we have lived. In India, any happy occasion calls for sweets. Whether a baby is born, a marriage is fixed, a new job or promotion is acquired, or a cricket match is won, Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye!” is how most Indians bring in a celebration.

“Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye” literally translates to “Let’s have something sweet!” but the translation doesn’t really do justice to the essence of this phrase.

Traditional Indian Sweets

Gujiya is a sweet deep-fried dumpling made with a stuffing of coconut or semolina and dried fruits. These are especially made during Diwali, Holi and Christmas.

Besan Ladoos are gram flour balls made with ghee, sugar and nuts. They are made for most festive and religious occasions. Ladoos are childrens’ all-time favorites.


Coconut Barfi is a dense sweet made of coconut, condensed milk, sugar and cardamom powder. They are very popular during Diwali and Christmas.

Kala Khand is a dense sweet made out of cottage cheese, solidified milk and sugar. They are widely consumed during festive and wedding occasions.

Cham Cham is a traditional Bengali sweet made with flour, sugar, lemon juice and coconut. They come in a variety of colors like light pink, light yellow or white. Cham Chams find their fans in most kids because of their colorful appearance.

Kaju Pista Rolls are cylindrical rolls made out of cashew and pistachio. They have the texture of play-dough and are green on the inside (pistachio dough) and white on the outside (cashew dough). Most Indian festivals are incomplete without these famous nutty rolls.

Gulab Jamun is the Indian version of doughnut balls. Deep fried and then dipped in sugar syrup, this sweet is indulged upon on any given happy occasion. Gulab Jamun is almost every Indians’ favorite dessert.

Sheer Khurma is a special vermicelli pudding, prepared on the festival of Eid by Muslim households. The main ingredients of this dish are vermicelli, milk, sugar, cardamom powder and dried fruits and nuts. No Eid celebration is ever complete without the family-favorite Sheer Khurma.

Shahi Tukda is a rich and decadent bread pudding made with fried bread slices, condensed milk, cardamom, saffron and dried fruits. Shahi Tukda is synonymous with wedding and festive celebrations, and is also a Ramadan and Eid staple.

Meethi Seviyaan or sweet vermicelli is made by combining vermicelli, sugar, ghee, cardamom and dried fruits. This simple dessert is a Ramadan and Eid favorite too.

Badam Kheer, also known as Phirni and Payasam is a simple rice pudding made with broken rice, milk, almonds, raisins and cardamom. It is a commonly made during Diwali, Ramadan, Eid, Pongal, Onam and other Indian festivals.

Rose Cookies or Achu Murukku are fried cookies shaped like rose petals. These crunchy cookies are lightly sweet and absolutely irresistible. They are very popular during Christmas.

Kalkals are bits of sweet fried dough, which are shaped as tiny curls or shells. Crunchy outside and chewy inside, these heavenly bites are a Christmas favorite.

Marzipan Fruits are made with almond meal and sugar and come in various fruit shapes and colors. This traditional Christmas dessert is a favorite of kids and adults alike.

Fruit Cake is made with dried fruits like raisins, cherries, plums, currants or sultanas, soaked in fruit juice and then added to flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Christmas can never be complete without this cake, which is also famously known as Christmas Cake.

For more yummy dishes, visit my Instagram page here.

Guide for Indian Desserts Enjoyed During All Festivals

4 Secrets To Living Your Life Happy and Stress Free

4 Secrets To Living Your Life Happy and Stress Free

Stress, anxiety and depression are terms that were not really heard of until a decade ago. The word ‘stress’ was  used in a very generalized way to express being tired of something or doing something. 

Today, we know ‘STRESS’ as the root of most ailments in the world. Yet, we as humans allow it to permeate into our daily lives. Living stress free is the ultimate goal! 

Self Assessment With Gratitude 

Do you wonder why the people around you are always agitated? Do you pause to think why your kids seem so perturbed?

‘YOU’ could possibly be the reason of their behavior. Our mood swings, our anxiety over trivial issues, our anger  are all seen, felt and reflected.

Most of us are guilty of that but isn’t it a little unrealistic to expect others around us to be positive and happy? Now really, if you’re having a bad day and have not managed to smile all day, would you really blame your spouse for not being there or not talking two sweet words to you, while YOU are sulking and drowning yourself in negativity.

SOLUTION : Kick starting our day with a positive and clear mind will make us and the people around us feel joyful and content. Showing gratitude to our spouse and children will make their entire day. Learning to let go off small issues to maintain peace in our relationships, goes a long way. We can pray, meditate, listen to some soothing music, practice yoga or take a walk to keep all those cynical thoughts at bay (or rather away!)

Set Realistic Goals 

Most students and their parents dread that time of the year when the exams and results are declared. Sleepless nights, racing thoughts, and anxiousness takes over. Then comes the D-Day and what happens after that? Doesn’t life just go on? Unfortunately, these days we also get to hear of people ending their lives over not meeting their family’s or their own expectations. Sadly, peer pressure is taking a huge toll on children and adults alike.

Years ago, when I was going down in the elevator with my neighbor’s high school goer, I asked him what he plans to do after his high school. With a dejected look he said, “I am very passionate about cricket and want to play cricket for India. But my father has said that I should only think of engineering and nothing else.”

I was really sad to see his despair. That day I promised myself that when I become a parent, I would let my child follow their passion and always support them in their choices within reason. I really wish that all parents could understand their children’s feelings, goals and aspirations better.

SOLUTION : We are seeing a generation who are coercing themselves to go beyond what is achievable. That doesn’t mean we should not aim higher or aspire for the better. But we should also learn to set realistic goals and work towards achieving them. We need to focus on giving our cent-percent and stop worrying about the outcome and result.

Step Out of The Rat Race Of Life

A few months ago an Indian movie called ‘Hindi Medium’ had released. The movie was based upon a metropolitan couple, who did not have a great command over the English language but wished to send their daughter to an elite International school. They wanted her to be everything they were not. The movie further depicts their dejection and the turmoil they go through, to ensure a guaranteed admission of their child into a prestigious school. It was a great movie but I thought it was a little far-fetched.

To my surprise (rather shock!) when I came to India for a vacation, I realized that the issue addressed in this movie was actually a reality. Conversations with friends and family pointed out to one common thing, i.e the competition is way too much.

Children attend school all day and have numerous classes planned out for the remaining hours for the whole week. Do you think kindergartners really need to attend extra classes for general knowledge, football, swimming, etc.

As if this wasn’t appalling enough, I had a friend tell me that she is going crazy trying to get an admission form for her 8 month old son. I asked her why is she fussing over school so soon. It seems like the norm to apply for kindergarten admission is when you are pregnant or just deliver your child (believe me, I was as surprised as you are reading this!) Fast forward to two weeks later, when I met her she seemed relaxed and content. She finally acquired an admission form from the school she plans to send her child to. He starts school in 2020!! I rest my case.

SOLUTION : Back in our day, we attended school and everything else was learned, absorbed or picked up from our daily lives. We increased our general knowledge by reading newspapers and encyclopedias. Swimming meant time to go to the beach. Most activities were unstructured and that was the best part about it. Today, even learning a new sport or language feels like an ADDED STRESS to the child because it has to revolve around his/her and the parents’ busy schedules.

Remember We Are Being Watched


As adults we stress over finding the right partner, getting married, paying the bills, having kids, raising kids, getting a high-salary job, making the perfect house and so much more. We need to realize that habitually stressing over something might be rubbing off on our kids and the people around us too.

Unknowingly, this may affect our kids and they might imbibe it into their subconscious. The repercussion of this is that they will grow to be adults with a low self-esteem, no self-worth, have anger and anxiety issues, and will be dismissive of life.

Every parent in this world only wishes the best for their child. Pressurizing kids to overachieve might seem what’s right for now but it actually does not enable them to be self starters.  

SOLUTION : The focus needs to be on encouraging and appreciating our children for their efforts, for pushing them towards self-learning, for teaching them to rise above every shortcoming and to accept failures as a part of life and move ahead. We need to stop cushioning them and allow them to fail or fall back in a few of their endeavors. And unless we lead the way, how else would they learn to take responsibility?


A few marks up or down or a few thousands here or there, will not matter in shaping us to who we become eventually. Scoring a 100% or raking in a six-figure salary CANNOT guarantee a stress-free happy life.

Being content and grateful with what we have and being confident of ourselves, while accepting our flaws, will definitely make us appreciate our lives more.

Stop the fuss, eliminate the stress and enjoy the adrenaline rush of this wonderful roller-coaster called LIFE. For we can all get on this ride only ONCE! And if you’re still not satisfied, then remember that ‘stressed’ read backwards is ‘desserts’. So go grab a bite or a whole cake…whatever makes you feel better!!

Secrets To Living A Stress Free Life Easily | Stress Free | Family Life

 Minali Bajaj-Syed is an Indian, born and settled in Kuwait. Having lived in Kuwait, India and the United States, She has had the opportunity to experience a diverse set of cultures. She thus, considers herself a global citizen. She is always learning, evolving and trying to spread some positivism. On most days, she is a mother to two kids and a food blogger on Instagram @cinnamon_cardamom
11 Easy Choices to Living a Healthy ‘Plastic-Free’ Life

11 Easy Choices to Living a Healthy ‘Plastic-Free’ Life

Living a healthy lifestyle goes way beyond clean eating and exercising. You may cut down on the carbs and increase the proteins, you may increase your greens, you may incorporate super foods into your diet, you may workout in the gym or do yoga BUT have you made any changes in your life to keep your body free of toxins and chemicals?

There was a time we would all worry about how safe our drinking water was. Today, after all the technology advancements, we can be assured that the water we are consuming is purified and filtered, and free of most germs and chemicals. But really how safe is the purified water in your or your kids’ water bottles?

If you look around and notice, you will see that most people carry PLASTIC water bottles. Be it to the gym, for a walk, to work or to school, plastic bottles is what you see everywhere. Our exposure to plastic has drastically increased in the past few decades.

Overuse of plastic is not limited to plastic bags only anymore. Disposable plates, spoons and cups, snack boxes, water bottles, food storage boxes, toiletries, makeup, toys and many other items made of plastic, have all become a part of our daily life.

Cumulative use and exposure to so much plastic can cause adverse effects on our health and lives. Let’s not forget, it is a huge threat to our environment and planet too!

Research indicates that almost all plastics may release chemicals if they are heated, scratched or overused. You may have seen that a few baby and kids products made of plastic come with a ‘BPA-free’ tag. BPA (bis-phenol) is a weak synthetic estrogen that can be found in most hard plastics.

BPA can be found in water bottles, sippy-cups, tin foods, baby formula can linings, cashier receipts, toys and more. Over exposure to this hormone-disrupting chemical can lead to anxiety, hyperactivity, depression, breast cancer and infertility. Unfortunately, BPA is present in almost all toys today and these toys are NOT ‘BPA-free’ unless mentioned. Apart from BPA, plastic may contain other harmful toxins and carcinogens too.

Being convenient and economical, it is almost impossible to avoid all plastic products. The least we can do is try to use it minimally and use other substitutes in place of plastic. A few small changes in our daily lives will go a long way in living a healthy and clean lifestyle.

1. Store water in glass bottles at home instead of plastic. (pretty bottles, win win!)
2. Replace all gym/school plastic water bottles with stainless steel bottles.
3. Avoid canned foods and try to use fresh foods if available.
4. Replace your plastic crockery/cutlery with glass or stainless steel. Your child does not need that cute Dora/Spiderman plastic plate and cup. Teach them young about the ill-effects of plastic on their health.
5. Store food and leftovers in glass containers. It is easier to re-heat it in the same glass container. PLEASE DO NOT cook or re-heat in plastic containers.
6. Try to use disposable paper plates and cups instead of plastic disposables.
7. Use ‘BPA-free’ baby bottles, sippy cups, toys and other baby products.
8. Please DO NOT boil your baby’s plastic bottles in hot water to sterilize them. You are only exposing them to more toxins by doing this.
9. Try to replace plastic feeding bottles with glass feeding bottles.
10. Avoid handling cashier receipts. You do not need to take that restaurant or grocery bill home. Please ensure your KIDS do not touch these receipts.
11. Try to introduce wooden blocks and toys to your children in place of the plastic toys.

plastic free living

The least we can do to protect our health and environment is to make these small lifestyle changes. Also, it is our responsibility to teach our children the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. If we start them young, this thought will become a habit, and they will grow up to become health conscious and responsible adults.
Wishing you all good health and happiness always!

References –
www.breastcancer.org

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11 Easy Choices to Living a Plastic Free Healthy Life

  Minali Bajaj-Syed is an Indian, born and settled in Kuwait. Having lived in Kuwait, India and the United States, She has had the opportunity to experience a diverse set of cultures. She thus, considers herself a global citizen. She is always learning, evolving and trying to spread some positivism. On most days, she is a mother to two kids and a food blogger on Instagram @cinnamon_cardamom.
Girgian – The Middle Eastern ‘Trick or Treat’

Girgian – The Middle Eastern ‘Trick or Treat’

One huge PARTY!

Girgian is a traditional 3-day Middle-Eastern festival, which is celebrated on the 13th, 14th and 15th night of Ramadan, depending on the day it is a full moon. This day marks the end of half-Ramadan and is celebrated to reward children for fasting and to encourage them to fast every Ramadan.

Girgian is known by different names in different parts of the Middle-Eastern world. In Kuwait and Saudi Arabia it is known as ‘Girgian’ or ‘Gergeaan’, as ‘Garangao’ in Qatar, ‘Gargaaon’ in Bahrain, ‘Garangasho’ in Oman, ‘Mageena Karkiaan’ in Iraq and ‘Hag Allah’ in UAE.

Children sing traditional songs and go door to door collecting candies. Special Girgian events take place at the malls, parks and other areas of kids’ attraction. Private Girgian parties are organized and kids are treated to a lot of fun, gifts and candies. This festival has no origin in Islam and has no religious significance at all. It is purely a cultural tradition. The similarity of Girgian to Halloween ends at the candies and there is absolutely no room for horror.

Tracing back its ORIGIN…

The exact origin of Girgian is unknown but some historians suggest that this tradition dates back to the time when Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) grandson, Hasan Ibn Ali was born. To celebrate the birth of her new born, the Prophet’s daughter Fatima distributed colored sugar cubes to people, on the 15th of Ramadan. The kids of Medina then gathered around the Prophet’s house to congratulate them by singing “Qarrat Al Ain, Qarrat Al Ain” which translates to “Congratulations, Congratulations.”

Another theory suggests that Girgian is derived from the Arabic word ‘Qarqa’ah’, which is the sound of tin buckets filled with sweets clicking together. Candies surely seemed to be a kids’ favorite even back then!

Time to DRESS up!

Before the onset of Ramadan, the markets in the Gulf countries get filled with traditional Girgian dresses. The beautiful girly dresses known as ‘Daraa’ come in beautiful bright colors and have pretty borders, laces, trinkets and pompoms. Most of these dresses are made locally with colorful and kitsch fabrics sourced from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Each dress comes with a matching sling bag, which is used to collect the candies in. Boys usually wear a long white or beige robe known as the ‘Dishdasha’ and pair it with some fancy traditional waist coats and head gears. Watching these cute, dolled-up kids stroll all around is surely a delightful sight.

It’s CANDY time!

Chocolates, wafers, cookies, soft chewy candies, hard candies, marshmallows, lollipops, chewing gum, sugar coated nuts…did I miss anything? Markets and grocery stores all around the country are filled with these candies (in BULK!) Every store is competing with each other by discounting candies by the dozen. Girgian themed individual boxes, bags and baskets filled with candies are a huge hit with most kids. Also, they are easier to distribute or give away. Most corporates have also started giving away these candy favors to their employees, to mark the Girgian festival. Candies seem to become an adult-favorite too at this time of the year.

Lessons to learn…

We can surely learn a few life lessons from this wonderful Middle-Eastern tradition.
• It is always a good idea to reward children for their efforts. This can go a long way in motivating them do better.
• Celebrating small achievements will encourage us to look forward to bigger achievements.
• Sharing our joys (and CANDIES) with others will make us happier.

Making celebrations fun and memorable is a good way of inculcating the traditional values into our children. They will carry it on forward and make it a part of their life.

  Minali Bajaj-Syed is an Indian, born and settled in Kuwait. Having lived in Kuwait, India and the United States, She has had the opportunity to experience a diverse set of cultures. She thus, considers herself a global citizen. She is always learning, evolving and trying to spread some positivism. On most days, she is a mother to two kids and a food blogger on Instagram @cinnamon_cardamom.

 

7 Tips for a Healthy and Happy Ramadan

7 Tips for a Healthy and Happy Ramadan

A lot of us get ‘HANGRY’ when we are hungry, more so when fasting!

Did you know it is possible to fast and yet not be furious at the same time? Blame it on some wrong eating habits or wrong timing. But if we chose to eat right, fasting in the month of Ramadan can be done in a healthier manner.

A few healthy lifestyle changes and you are ready for the Hunger Games to begin!

In this age of many lavish choices, observing Ramadan has an additional ‘e’ attached and fasting leads to feasting. In the Arab World and Indian Subcontinent, an Iftar (breaking of the fast) is usually very grand and comprises of varieties of foods and desserts. It is like a ‘mini food-festival’ that takes place every day!

What is Ramadan? 

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is obligatory and is one of the five pillars of Islam. The other four being, believing in one God, praying 5 times a day, giving charity and going to Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).

Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year to Muslims around the world because it is in this blessed month that the Holy Quran was revealed.

It is believed that when one fasts, it brings forth gratitude. This makes them realize the value and importance of food and water in their lives. Ideally the fasting person realizes how fortunate they are to be blessed with the basic necessities of life. In addition to this, fasting teaches self-control and strengthens the belief in God.

Turning to a Healthy Ramadan

A few years ago, an Iftar meal at our home would include traditional Ramadan dishes like Fruit Salad (loaded with 6-8 tbsp of sugar), Chickpeas/Chana Chaat, mini pizzas, loads of fried fritters like onion bhajiyas, potato and jalapeño pakodas, and yummy Bohri keema and cheese samosas.

In addition to this, there would be a few beverages like Vimto and Rose milk (all loaded with sugar) to replenish what we lost during the day. Sigh!! We enjoyed each and everything without any feeling of guilt.

I would always wonder, why was I feeling so lethargic and stuffed after the meal. Even praying after breaking the fast would feel like a task!

With time I realized small changes needed to be made towards a healthy and happy Ramadan.

Today, our Iftar is simpler. The fruit salad is made without any added sugar. Fruits have a lot of natural sugars and fibre to keep us going for the day. Fried foods like samosas or fritters are consumed once a week. We enjoy hearty soups and fresh sandwiches on most days. After breaking our fast, we feel so energetic and cheerful (v/s lethargic and moody like before.)

[bctt tweet=”A few changes can make Ramadan or any fasting days lighter and vigorous.” username=”contactrwc”]

Break Your Fast With Light Foods

When breaking the fast (Iftar/Futoor), avoid fried, spicy and gassy foods. Having these on an empty stomach will mess with your digestive system and result in acid reflux and gas. Rather, opt for soups, stews, sandwiches, baked and steamed foods.

Hydration is Must

Keep yourself hydrated with water/infused water, buttermilk/laban/lassi, milkshakes and fruit smoothies after breaking your fast. Avoid drinks with a high sugar content like rose syrup, Roohafza, Vimto, flavored drinks and sodas. It messes with your blood sugar levels and makes you uncomfortable.

During Iftar/Futoor Eat Healthy

Think dates, fresh fruits, fruit salad, veggie salad, smoothies. Fruits/Veggies rich in water content (watermelon, cucumbers) are excellent to keep your system cool and hydrated in the summer heat.

As per family tradition, if you have to serve samosas, spring rolls, cutlets, kebabs, and other heavy foods, try grilling them OR try air frying (an air fryer is a great investment for healthy eating). It is so much better than deep frying!

And if you really need to have some fried foods, then try to fry them in olive oil. It is much lighter on your gut. Plus, your guilt will be a little less too. It is absolutely OK to indulge sometimes NOT everyday. It’s okay to have your favorite fried foods or pizzas when you break your fast but once in a while. Even I do!

Have Complete Meals 

Along with proteins (meat, poultry, fish, lentils, etc.) don’t forget to include carbs (rice, brown bread, roti/flatbread) in your food. Your carbs is where you’ll get your fuel (read: energy) for the day.


Don’t Eat Heavy Before Going For The Prayers

Try not to stuff your tummy before the night prayer. It will make you feel thirsty, heavy and nauseous during the prayers.

Before Dawn-Break Eat Foods Consciously

For the meal before dawn-break (Sehri/Suhoor), avoid fried foods and junk food because they will only make you feel thirstier the next day. Fruits, eggs, oats, porridge, yogurt are perfect to keep you fueled and full. Dried fruits and nuts will give you energy for the next day too.

Tips for healthy and happy Ramadan.

Eat In Healthy Portions

Remember, don’t go overboard while eating at Iftar gatherings. Your tummy doesn’t know that you have been invited to eat. All it knows is that it needs some food and water upon breaking the fast. So why not give it something healthy!

Be the change! If your family has been following the tradition of eating heavy, fried, unhealthy foods when breaking the fast, try to introduce or suggest healthier food/cooking options. A healthy lifestyle will begin with YOU!

Remember a healthy household is a happier household!! Have a blessed Ramadan you all. Share your healthy Ramadan ideas in comments below.

7 Tips to a Healthy and Happy Ramadan www.raisingworldchildren.com #ramadan #healthy #festivals #celebrations #food #muslim

Minali Bajaj-Syed is an Indian, born and settled in Kuwait. Having lived in Kuwait, India and the United States, She has had the opportunity to experience a diverse set of cultures. She thus, considers herself a global citizen. She is always learning, evolving and trying to spread some positivism. On most days, she is a mother to two kids and a food blogger on Instagram @cinnamon_cardamom.
What Maayeka Really Means To An Indian Girl

What Maayeka Really Means To An Indian Girl

Maayeka: The place where you live as a girl, and leave as a woman.

‘Maayeka’ in Hindi/Urdu translates to ‘mother’s house’ or ‘maternal home’.  In the Indian subcontinent, once a woman gets married, her husband’s home is considered to be her new home. Her own home, where she was born, raised, and belonged suddenly becomes her ‘maayeka’.

A woman’s maayeka (maternal home) can be anywhere from five minutes away to being on a separate street, or in an entirely different city, country or continent. Most women, who belong to the latter category, take longer to settle down in their ‘new’ homes. You can’t blame them, can you?

Your bed, your room, your closet, your space…everything changes overnight. What remains with you forever are the memories of your maternal home. And these memories go on to become the most cherished ones of our life, more so after marriage.

Going away from home to acquire an education or for a better job prospect does not even count as moving out. Marriage is where it all changes for most women!

As teenagers and young adults, we struggle to be on the same page as our parents. We blame their old-school-of-thought, the generation gap, their protective nature, and find unjustifiable excuses to distant us from them. Unfortunately, we do not realize the value of their love and care just yet. Most of us realize the importance of our parents when we have to live by ourselves. This is when we long for their affection and company, for mom’s handmade food, and for dad’s advice. Simply reminiscing about having a meal together with our parents can leave us smiling and teary-eyed at the same time.

After marriage, I have been settled in the same city as where my parents lived. Fortunately, my maternal home is just a five minute drive away from my home. After so many years of marriage, now it doesn’t feel weird to call their house ‘my parents’ home’ and call my own house as ‘my home’.

In the first year post-marriage, the question I dreaded the most was “where do you live or what is your address?”

Having to answer that question always left me feeling a sense of disloyalty (has anyone else experienced this?) Oh and no guesses to what my reply must have been to anyone asking me for my phone number. I always gave out my parents’ home number, unintentionally, and they landed up receiving phone calls meant for me. I even mistakenly put their residence number on my resume. Yes I did!

For all these years, I was blessed to have my parents live down the road from my house. Just as nothing remains forever, it all changed a year ago. Last year, my father took up retirement and decided to move back to India. I didn’t know how to react to this news, so I just went with the flow. As the days of them going back came closer, the feeling began to sink in. Fast forward to the airport, I remember my mother hugging me and telling me, “Be strong and don’t be upset. It will all be fine.”

Driving past their house three times a day (on the way to the kids’ school), going to places we once shopped together, dining at restaurants where we spent innumerable times eating together… it seemed like memories of them were etched on to all those places. For the first few months, each time I passed by their house, I would look towards it and cry. The only thing running in my mind was that I don’t have my ‘maayeka’ (maternal home) here anymore.

Today, I may not have a ‘maayeka’ here but my parents have a new home here. Their daughter’s home is now their home! Just as most of us can’t wait for the weekend or for a vacation to go stay at our maternal homes, I am looking forward to my parents coming to stay with me. This is something that hasn’t happened in more than a decade since I got married.

At the time of marriage, the giving away of a daughter is always the hardest part. But when the roles are reversed and it feels like the ‘bidaai’ (giving away/letting go) of your parents, the letting go becomes even tougher.   I knew it would be fine eventually but didn’t imagine it to be so hard initially.

While my parents have moved back to India and settled in their retirement life, I am reminded of them at every corner that I turn around. Imagine what our parents go through when we move out or move away. The emptiness of a loved one moving away from you can never be filled. Have you ever sat back and thought of what your parents were thinking and feeling, the day you got married and your home changed?

Moving away or moving out is a natural process and every individual has to deal with it at some point in their life. One thing that no one can take away from a woman is the sweet feeling she has her in heart for her maternal home.

Maayeka is the place, where she can once again feel like a girl! Where she can sleep in till late, be served breakfast on bed and spend late nights talking to her mother. A woman’s home may change after marriage but the belongingness to her maternal home stays with her forever. For it is the place she grew up as a girl and grew out of as a woman.

What is the meaning of Maayeka? What does it mean in Indian culture?

 Minali Bajaj Syed - Raising World Children Minali Bajaj-Syed is an Indian, born and settled in Kuwait. Having lived in Kuwait, India and the United States, She has had the opportunity to experience a diverse set of cultures. She thus, considers herself a global citizen. She is always learning, evolving and trying to spread some positivism. On most days, she is a mother to two kids and a food blogger on Instagram @cinnamon_cardamom
Parenting While Being Aware of Our Hormones

Parenting While Being Aware of Our Hormones

‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’. How many of you remember reading or coming across John Gray’s famous book? I still have that book on my bookshelf but haven’t managed to read it entirely.

Whether you have read this book or not, let me tell you that the only thing ‘Venus’ about women is the ‘Gillette Venus’ shaving razors.

Women are one-hundred-percent earthly creations, who are often misunderstood for their inexplicable actions and emotional outbursts.

Being a Woman

“Which world are you living in?” “Can you please behave normal?” “Why are you in such a bad mood lately?”

These are just a few of the wonderful phrases we get to hear, depending on how good or bad our hormones have been behaving. Really! Ironically, we get to hear them from our loved ones, who seem to understand us the most (apparently!)

The culprit of most of our bad days is our raging, swinging, dwindling, often off-balance HORMONES. We need to accept the fact and realize that our behavior, our mood, our sanity and so many other aspects of us are all impacted by our hormones.

And if the people in our lives (most importantly our immediate family) could comprehend this, then the world around us would be a much happier place.

From small issues like headaches and bloating to bigger issues like extreme mood swings, anger and anxiety, our hormones affect our body and mind on a daily basis. In some severe cases, the imbalance in our hormones can disrupt our mental health and the functioning of our daily lives.

At some point is life (i.e almost everyday for us women) we must have all whined about something or listened to someone else vent their frustrations. Most women’s problems range from

“My mother-in-law is interfering is so irritating?”
“I am trying hard to lose weight but nothing seems to work.”
“My husband is too busy and has no time for me!”
“The kids are driving me up the wall!!”

hormones

As much as it may seem like we are at war with ourselves, if we chose to tackle it, in all probability we may come out of it with a win. Most importantly, we must assess our behavior and what’s going on in our mind. If it seems too extreme, there is no harm in seeking help from a gynecologist or counselor. Recurrent headaches, anxiety and emotional outbursts may need medical intervention.

Being a Mother

The fact that God chose women to give birth to, or raise another life validates that women are very strong emotionally and physically. Women are fantastic at decision making and multitasking. Women are great listeners and often sound advisers. But most of the times, we are often misconstrued because of the role our hormones have played on a particular day.

We are neither a bad species nor hard to get along with. Unpredictable, that we are sometimes! We just need to be understood beyond our bad days and not be judged based on them. When our hormones toss us up and down, all we need is some space followed by hugs (and some kind of dessert in most cases.) Donuts and Cinnamon Rolls can really do the trick for me!

So the next time you flare up at your kids for not cleaning up their room and follow it by loads of hugs and kisses, you know who to blame (sigh!)

Parenting While Being Aware of Your Hormones | Raising World Children | Family | Goals | Motherhood

Taking Charge of Those Raging Hormones

Here are a few tips on how to tackle those ‘happiness-hindering hormones’.

1. Take a walk or do some yoga early in the morning, to help start your day on a positive note.
2. Soak yourself in a warm bath infused with lavender oil, to help relax your mind.
3. Read a book or watch a comedy movie.
4. Cook, bake or just order in your ‘happy food’.
5. Take a break from routine (read: skip work, school, doing the daily chores, etc.)
6. Bribe the kids to do their own work and tidy up their mess, while you take a break. (Movie/beach plans usually do the trick)
7. Book an appointment for a head or body massage.
8. Make your husband/partner read this article.
9. And if none of the above help, then it’s best to seek medical advice/professional help.

And for the men reading this, the next time you are pulled over for leaving your wet towel on the bed, PLEASE stay calm and try not to react. Just get the woman some CHOCOLATE or CAKE and be rest assured, this will be followed up by a HUG. And keep in mind (read: do not forget), the cause of ‘Her-Moans’ are not YOU or HER but her “sneaky hormones!”

Minali Bajaj-Syed is an Indian, born and settled in Kuwait. Having lived in Kuwait, India and the United States, I have had the opportunity to experience a diverse set of cultures. Thus, I consider myself as a global citizen. I am always learning, evolving and trying to spread some positivity. On most days, I am a mother to two kids and a food blogger on Instagram @cinnamon_cardamom.