Being from Kuwait, I have seen Muslims celebrate Ramadan and Eid and even celebrated this Muslim festival of fasting. The book “Let’s celebrate Ramadan and Eid” still had a lot to teach me about the these two important aspects of the Muslim culture, even enlightening me (and of course my children) about how different cultures around the world celebrate the same days of fasting and festivities. I am constantly on the look out for books that help broaden my children’s world view and this book was a great way to introduce them to the Muslim culture.
No matter how much you think you know, there is always more to learn through the Maya and Neel adventures.
I received this book from Ajanta Chakraborthy, an amazing content creator and am frankly so privileged to get first dibs on this amazing new addition to the Maya and Neel collection of books that imparts to the world the minute intricacies of sub cultures with the Indian ecosystem.
This book is another gem in the beautiful tapestry that Ajanta and her husband Vivek are creating for the world to explore and learn from. I have said it before and I say it again, the word glossary in the beginning is a great addition for families to learn a new language.
Maya and Neel take us on another unique adventure showing us through vivid illustrations and a welcoming story of diversity. They even let us peek into the lives of the Khan family. You really do not want to miss out on this trip around the world with these adorable twosome and their pet squirrel who also gives up peanuts to be one with the family that is hosting them.
The story totally enthralled my children and we have read it five times in the two days we have had it. I would say, if you have a question about the diversity with the Indian culture, Maya and Neel are your go to travel buddies.
If you have not already, there is no better time than now to start on this amazing series and pick up this great book to introduce to your children about Ramadan and Eid.
“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”
Is it part of your priorities to raise bilingual children? Are you a monolingual parent trying to support your child’s language learning process? I know what you are thinking: Oh no! I can’t help my children as much as I want because I don’t know the language myself… what do I do?
As long as you are able to provide emotional and material aid and have the right attitude and persistence everything will be alright. You only need to process this adventure from a different angle!
Empower yourself with these practical tips and you will be ready to effectively support and connect with your kids in no time!
First you have to lay the foundation for your children to learn a new language and feel supported by you along the way. Don’t forget that it is important to highlight the reasons behind this decision, ask for their opinion and promote motivation in many different ways. We cannot force our kiddos to acquire another language, so things need to be handled with tons of love, communication and assertive but fun resources.
Learn the language yourself!
Does “teaching by example” ring a bell? Learning the language is a great way to work together with your children and develop stronger communication skills at home. Additionally, it is a fool-proof way to improve your resume, exercise your brain and gain confidence while traveling. It sounds like a win-win situation to me.
Supporting our children’s German learning journey wasn’t easy. However, it was totally worthy!
Invest time and resources!
You don’t need to spend a fortune, check your local library, second hand bookstores, webpages, and Pinterest to look for tools that your children could use at home to work on the communication skills they need to be fluent. Keep in mind that it is necessary to develop four different aspects of communication: oral, listening, writing, and reading. Prepare yourself with the right material.
Connect with people that speaks the target language
This is a great way to get your children practice their new skills with native speakers, and it can be done on a regular basis to keep the input of real-like situations going on. At the end, our children are learning the new language to communicate, and it is through speaking that they will achieve higher fluency levels. Relatives, friends or colleagues that speak the target language are always a safe bet to contact to practice speaking and listening skills. Hiring a tutor is also a great thing to do. Nannies and au pairs are very common in the expat community as well.
Now my son helps me improve my own German skills when we travel. I learn so much from him!
Be creative and reach out to other bilingual families!
The idea is to provide children with as much exposure to the language as possible, thing that can be difficult to do when you don’t live in the country where the target language is spoken. However, don’t despair! There are many ways to promote learning of a foreign language. I highly recommend visiting websites from bilingual families and multicultural blogs to get ideas, motivation and support. This is a journey better done with the help of those who already have a little bit more experience than us. I personally like Instagram for quick tips and Pinterest for crafty ideas. Don’t forget YouTube for songs and sing-alongs in the target language.
Put your apron and chef hat on!
One thing I have learnt all these years of teaching Spanish to children and adults is that we need to keep things fun. So what better way to learn vocabulary in the target language than cooking a traditional recipe? Imagine spending time with your children making a delicious dish, learning about the culture and practicing new terminology in a interesting way. You don’t need to know the language for that matter. Simply write down the vocabulary, look for it online so you can listen to the correct pronunciation and voilá!!! You are good to go…. don’t forget to go to the supermarket though, you still need to buy the ingredients.
Additionally, you could plan a special family dinner to enjoy the end results of your cooking and learning process and you can invite relatives and friends to show off your new language skills.
They speak English, Spanish, and German. Now they want to learn French!
Find a pen-pal for your kids!
Writing and reading are two of the language dexterities that your children will need to develop. Having someone to exchange emails or even snail mail using the target language is a wonderful tool to support their learning journey. Just remember to check well before contacting other people to pen pal. Our children’s safety always comes first.
Both of us might be right in our own ways but sometimes at the root of our disagreements – especially on raising children – are the conditionings and cultural cues that our upbringing and environment have ingrained into us.
“The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all.” Aung San Suu Kyi
March is Women’s History Month in America. It is a month designated to commemorate and encourage the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. However, I want to invite you to join the celebration of this event even if you don’t live in the United States. My heart tells me this is the perfect time to remember the courageous work of many women through history around the world.
Encouraging exploration of the world that surrounds her. Photo credit Little Nómadas
March is a month we should take as ours to celebrate our achievements and teach our children about the relevant, and many times unknown, role of women in history. But how do we bring such an abstract commemorative month to the reality of our own home? How can our children benefit from the study and observance of women’s history?
How do we get our boys and girls engaged in the celebration of the vital role of women for human kind?
Like I have said in many articles I have written before, everything begins at home. Women empowerment, equality and development aren’t the exception. As parents, we need to be committed to raise children respectful of the rights of girls around the world. We need to educate our boys to actively participate in the observance of human rights for women in society, and we have to teach our girls to go for those rights without feeling threatened, unworthy and rejected.
Siblings together as equals, enjoying nature at its best. Photo credits Little Nómadas
Children learn in different ways, some learn by seeing, some by hearing, some by reading, some by doing. Giving your child chances to explore diverse resources is the most effective way to teach him about women’s history and Human Rights. With these five tips for Empowering Girls at Home, your kids will discover new ways to equip themselves with useful information about women empowerment across all sectors of life. Remember, this is just the beginning, you as a parent will need to expand and nurture the path of learning.
5 Girl Empowering Tips for Kids at Home
Good leaders must lead by example. By walking your talk, you become a person others want to follow. Be truthful to what you preach and teach your kids about. Start by exercising gender equality at home, get rid of old beliefs and erase from your vocabulary things such as “this is a girl’s job”, or “let your sister wash your clothes because she is the girl of the house”. Those words and that kind of behavior just encourage more inequality in our communities. Quite the contrary, promote team work at home. Let’s all together load the dishwasher, vacuum the living room and work in the garden. Assign chores to your kids based on their age and skills and not their sex. Please be conscious about your own biases, we cannot forget that we are influenced by our experiences of the past and our own cultural backgrounds. Many cultures promote different treatments for men and women and it isn’t that easy to go against what you have been taught and what you have believed for many years. However, girls around the world deserve a brighter future and you and your family must actively make it happen.
Create a toolbox for the family. How can we battle inequality and ignorance without the right tools? Let’s equip ourselves and our children with information about the important roles of women throughout history. But let’s not just focus on the past: encourage your children to watch age appropriate documentaries about the living conditions of girls in different corners of the world, talk about it, support their learning by being there to answer questions. I have found quite useful resources on the Women’s History Month website. From letters written by Abigail Adams to videos about women in science and technology, such as an interesting interview with astronaut Kathryn D. Sullivan.
Pack your suitcases and fly away. Traveling is lethal to bigotry. Plan trips with your children to learn more about other cultures and meet people from distinct backgrounds. Dare to hang out with people different from you to get to know the reality of many women of our society. If traveling is not within your means at the moment, explore your own backyard. Visit museums in your city, borrow books about women’s history from your local library and participate in gender equality events in your area. Remember that books are a great way to travel with our imagination. Make a plan of activities and questions to encourage your children to deeply engage with their reading material and invite them to share their newly acquired knowledge with relatives and friends. This will teach them to speak up for themselves and support the cause of others.Empathy anyone?
Time to dress-up. I usually use costumes as teaching tools, bringing learning to life. When we lived in the United States it was Halloween. Now that we live in Germany we have “Fasching” or Carnival. These two traditional celebrations have given us the chance to learn more about important characters of history. My kids and I choose costumes that are somehow related to someone different and special. This year my daughter helped me dress up as Frida Kahlo. You would think “what a mainstream costume”…. booh! But when you combine something trendy with a little bit of research, the result is a very meaningful outfit. Together, my daughter and I, learned about Frida’s sad story, her conflicts for being different and her struggles for women’s right. We even shared our discoveries with the boys who were pleasantly surprised to know that Frida Kahlo’s father was German. Choose the costumes that better fit your family’s needs. Our goal is to teach each child accordingly to his or her personality.
Learn about women’s history by dressing up. Photo credits Little Nómadas
Game night is great for talking. It has been proven by many studies that spending quality time together as a family helps develop tighter and more meaningful relationships and that our children grow up with a stronger self esteem when having a loving bond with their caretakers. Game night is one of the more common suggestions to promote family bonding. And you know what’s even better? We can take advantage of the time spent together to chat about relevant events and interesting stories from around the world. This would be the perfect moment to get to know your child’s opinion about working moms, girls wearing headscarves at school, and your daughter’s dream job. Have a talk about traditional male and female employment roles and show them examples of the opposite (male nurses, women firefighters). Listen to what your kids say but don’t judge. Our children are directly impacted by the media, traditions and their peers behavior. You should act as a guidance and effectively drive your kids to reason and understanding of basic Human Rights.
Easter is not a part of our heritage but of course living in USA means, my children and I would never miss out on enjoying this celebration of spring and life.
I personally have organized two Easter celebrations within our community of 20+ families. One was a full on huge celebration with carnival games, scavenger hunt for adults even and even food. The second one is which one I am most proud of, which was on minimal preparation and Candy Less. Of course, we had that one mom revolt, saying kids would be super disappointed if there was no candy. But guess what?! They weren’t.
The second celebration is the one I share here with you. I contacted all the families the evening before Easter weekend and asked them to give me 20 eggs per child in their family, filled with one non candy treat and ONE task that a child can do out of a list I had made. For eg. :
Do 5 jumping jacks. Hug the person to the left of you. Say something nice to a friend. Take a circle around the group. Do the floss. Do the dab. Give a high five to a friend. Touch your nose.
The morning of, half hour before the party adults got together and distributed the eggs in a decided area. We marked a short area limited for the younger 5 and below kids. For the older kids when spread them out in a larger area, hidden in places etc.
As egg hunts go, it was all over in ten mins. What was MORE fun was we made all the kids get together and open their eggs and each kid did what was written in their eggs. The kids had a blast going around, checking out what was in their eggs. We got tonnes of videos of each kid and memories that lasted for ever.
Great practice reading for early readers.
Other ideas of Fun Easter Egg Hunts
Number the eggs and write clues within each egg about where to find the next egg. I did this one year for fun and it was a HIT! The kids have a blast going number by number because where most kids are concerned, they LOVE the mystery behind the hunt. My son even made a small scavenger hunt for me, after around his toys and had ME looking for eggs by giving me clues. “It’s next to the camel.” or “It’s in the princess caste.”
This helps kids think out of the box!
Games With Eggs
To be honest, we are more of an impromptu game creating family. We will cut papers up, count them and add them to gets. Draw on eggs. Match colors to colors. Those plastic Easter eggs are a HUGE source of a lot of creative thinking. Kids themselves invented so many. It all starts from the simplest – counting the eggs we have.
Use small leds or glow sticks and hide the eggs around your back yard or inside your house in the dark. The kids go crazy enjoying running around to music and acting like fireflies. It also helps fight any fear of the dark kids might have.
Fill the eggs with names of books and ask the kids to make a pile of books. Meanwhile, make sure to read to your child about the origin stories and talk about the many values Easter and spring brings forth.
Here is a list of non candy treats that you can find to fill the eggs if you want something more.
It goes without saying that a beautiful way to celebrate is to do the many crafts you can enjoy with kids. Here is an easy craft that kids can do themselves.
Holi, the festival of colors will be here soon and like most of us for me preservation of our culture is imperative. Staying miles away from homeland can be sometime challenging, but It is utmost important for me to pass on our cultural values to my children. While we can’t do much about it, We can try to feel festive by doing following activities with our children .
What Is Holi?
Holi is a celebration of good over evil. Holi signals the retreating of winter and the ushering in of Spring. With it comes the vibrancy of Spring and all of its alluring colors. Hence Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors.
Looking to celebrate Holi this year with children? Here are seven interesting activities to do with children on the occasion of Holi.
1.) Holi Powder:
Use Holi powder to introduce early-learners to colors and textures. Every color has a particular meaning in Indian culture. This is the colorful powder that makes this celebration so exuberant and fun.
Set some rules about not targeting anyone’s face, only the arms. Also make sure to get Holi powder that is anti-allergic, skin friendly, washable, and non-toxic. You can get Holi Powder from Amazon or local Indian Grocery Stores.
2.) Water Balloons, Water Guns:
Every child loves water play. Get them some water guns to play with Holi colors onto each other. And they are great accompaniments to a Holi celebration.
3.) Books To Read On Holi:
Multicultural books are great ways to teach children about the festivals. So read a book on Holi with them.
We have planned a week long Holi celebration in our family. So we definitely look for crafts and games to play with kids. These activities are great for reinforcing the words used in the celebration in a fun and engaging way .Like my children learned about Pichkari, Gulaal and Holika by doing these fun activities.
I find the Holi Celebration Activity Kit by Culture Groove very useful as they have included Holi Crafts. Songs and dances , puzzles, Holi words games and Holi flashcards in it. You can get a FREE and downloadable Holi celebration activity kit here culturegroove.com/Holi.
(My Children had so much fun crafting Pichkaris)
5.) Make Some Amazing Foods:
No Indian Festival is complete without mouthwatering foods. So make some popular Holi dishes like Gujjiyas and Thandi ( the Indian milkshakes) with your children. You can find a kids friendly recipe of Thandai in the Culture Groove Holi Activity Kit. And also find a easy Gujjiya recip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_s0597AYYg
Enjoy the beautiful festival with family and friends by visiting nearby Hindu Temple or Cultural Centers. Check their websites or Facebook pages as most of these organizations host various Holi Events. Or you can host a Holi Party at your place to celebrate this colorful festival. Don’t forget to dance to the best Holi songs from Indian movies.
Don’t forget your camera or phone to capture all the Holi fun. And be ready to cheer everyone by” Holi Hai”!!
Nupur Biswal : A mom, wife, STEM Educator, children book reviewer ,blogger she loves to balance every role. With a educational background of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering and 10 years of working experiences as a software professional, she is passionate about teaching children coding and also share her love for STEM education with others. She organizes STEM activities in her local library during holidays and also conduct STEM clubs as a part of her daughter’s after school activities. You can follow her on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/nupurbiswal/ and her personal blogging page on Facebook “ Love My Game” https://www.facebook.com/Lovemygam/ where she regularly shares STEM activities and children book reviews with other parents and teachers
I am fortunate enough to live with my mother-in-law.
Maybe not everyone would feel that way but I do especially since she is from another country. Ukraine.
Since it’s winter and cold outside in my state and not always the most amount of things to do in the cold weather, we end up watching a good amount of movies. It has become one of my favorite winter traditions. But the more movies you watch the fewer ideas you have of what to watch next.
This has been our dilemma.
Recently we have been watching movies with seen before and sometimes my mother-in-law I will ask me if I have seen a certain movie which she says is fantastic. The first question I always end up asking her is, is it an American movie.
Because if it’s not I already know I haven’t seen it.
Maybe I am just ignorant. Maybe I just don’t love movies as much as I thought I did but I think it is more of a cultural aspect. Most Americans just don’t watch so many other form films like other countries seem to.
But what I am curious about is, why is this so and would it be beneficial not only for adults to watch foreign movies but kids as well?
Why the Disinterest?
The U.S. box office for the top five foreign-language films has declined by 61% in the last seven years.
But why is this?
I remember this episode of friends where Joey has to go watch a movie with one of the other friends, Ross probably. He was happy and excited to watch the movie until it started.
Once the words started scrolling on the bottom of the screen. It was a foreign film. He was, of course, hilarious and the sea and we all had a good laugh about it. But for many, this may be the problem that is truly wrong with watching foreign films.
Because people don’t want to go to a movie to read, at least that is one argument. Personally I don’t mind reading the translations, and actually, think it is a really neat idea to always have closed captioning for all, but I admit I can be a fast reader.
And not everyone is.
And then there is dubbing. When I think of movies that are dub from another language and English I think Chinese films that are quite cheesy perhaps in their mouth’s move at that separate time than the words they speak. Even just thinking of this makes me not want to watch a movie like that, though many love that niche.
But since I lived in Ukraine for four years I watched many Americans movies that were dumped into Ukrainian. I was surprised. As long as the actors are good and the movie has a nice translation you don’t have that separation from lips moving and speaking. You can’t hear they American voice then underneath it as well. And it’s actually quite enjoyable.
But these two reasons are why Americans don’t like to watch foreign films.
Foreign-Language Films and Children
Because my son was born in Ukraine we were able to bring back with us some DVDs. Some cartoons in hopes that he would learn the Ukrainian language. And it really has helped. But it has done more than help with this speaking skills, it has shown him culture as well.
It’s about a little girl who lives with a bear. Is cute and my kids love it but the thing that makes me most interested in it, kind of fun for me to sit and watch with the kids is that the first time I saw it was in Ukraine, in the Ukrainian language.
It is a foreign-language cartoon.
And the kids love it. And I love how I can see bits and pieces of the Ukrainian cultural mixed into the cartoon story. The way she sometimes wears a handkerchief around her face, the certain phrases that are used only by Ukrainians but somehow work for Americans as well, and the types of foods that she may cook or eat was Bear. All these little things added and end up showing the way Ukrainians thank, eat, and the stories they tell. In other words, culture.
Watching foreign-language films can help kids learn about other cultures in fun and natural way, just as they would learn ABC’s from Wallykazam.
[bctt tweet=”Watching foreign-language films can help kids learn about other cultures in fun and natural way, just as they would learn ABC’s from Wallykazam. ” username=”contactrwc”]
And they don’t seem to mind the translation at all.
But here’s the thing, if adults and watched more foreign films well, we too could learn about other cultures. A way to experience culture without ever having to leave your home or city.
But It’s Not Your Fault
“Foreign films simply don’t play with American audiences.” —Foreign Policy
Why would we watch a film we know nothing about when we have so many amazing movies and trailers that already fill our commercials and lives.
Who’s your favorite actor or actress?
Do you sometimes go watch a movie just because they’re in it? I know why sometimes too. And most the time for foreign films we don’t know the cast. Another downfall for foreign films. Many people watch movies that have a feeling of familiarity. You naturally want to watch a movie we know something about.
We don’t get enough of the marketing to make us that interested. This combined with the other problems mixes not watch them even though we know we probably should.
So what can we do?
It starts with us. And we can start with our children we can start with their children. Not only are foreign beneficial for children but we as parents as we watch and make sure that they are safe for children might start enjoying them, too.
[bctt tweet=”Not only are foreign beneficial for children but we as parents as we watch and make sure that they are safe for children might start enjoying them, too.” username=”contactrwc”]
That’s one of the tricks of movies. It’s like a spiral. You watch the movie and the trailers that can become before it and you get excited for the next movie and on and on.
So go ahead take the timeout. Relax and enjoy some time spent with your kids learning about cultural an a fun and easy way.
It is the time the days are on the coldest and when first harvest of the year is done in most of the parts of India where the food grains are worshiped in different ways.Are the festivals of Lohri, Makarsankranti and Pongal basically the same? Celebrated on the January 13th and 14th respectively and for the same reason, different states of India celebrate these auspicious day in different ways. Rejoicing in the fruits of harvest.
How can you tell who is celebrating which one? Make sure to save this so you can reference back to it later.
Well, firstly different people call it by different names.
Lohri in Punjab
Celebrated by Punjabi Indians on the 13th of January, this day is marked by a bon fire, colorful clothes music and dancing. Popcorn, sesame, chikki are enjoyed.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated on 14 January every year.This particular festival is celebrated by many more states, in different ways. This day is marked differently by the element of traditional prayers and kite flying.
Delhi and Haryana – Churma of ghee, halwa and kheer are cooked specially on this day. One brother of every married woman visits her home with a gift of some warm clothing for her and her husband’s family. It is called “Sidha”. Women used to give a gift to their in-laws, and this rituals called “Manana”. The recipient will sit in a haweli (main palace where men sit together and share hookka). Women go to haweli to sing folk songs and give gifts.
Rajasthan and West Madhya Pradesh
“Makar Sankrati” or “Sankrat” in the Rajasthani language is one of the major festivals in the state of Rajasthan. The day is celebrated with special Rajasthani delicacies and sweets such as pheeni (either with sweet milk or sugar syrup dipped), til-paati, gajak, kheer, ghevar, pakodi, puwa, and til-laddoo.
Specially, the women of this region wear black as it absorbs heat the most and observe a ritual in which they give any type of object (related to household, make-up or food) to 13 married women. The first Sankranti experienced by a married woman is of significance as she is invited by her parents and brothers to their houses with her husband for a big feast. People invite friends and relatives (specially their sisters and daughters) to their home for special festival meals (called as “Sankrant Bhoj”). People give out many kind of small gifts such as til-gud (jaggery), fruits, dry khichadi, etc. to Brahmins or the needy ones.
Kite flying is traditionally observed as a part of this festival.On this occasion the sky in Jaipur and Hadoti regions is filled with kites, and youngsters engage in contests trying to cut each other’s strings.
Celebrated in Tamil Nadu, this is a grand festival of four days. Day 1 marks Bhogi Pandigai, Day 2 is Thai Pongal, Day 3 Maattu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal is celebrated on day 4. The festival is celebrated four days from the last day of the Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai.
This same festival is known as Kicheri in Uttar Pradesh and involves ritual bathing. There is a compulsion to bathe in the morning while fasting; first they bathe then they eat sweets such as til ladoo and gud laddo (known as tillava in Bhojpuri). At some places new clothes are worn on this day. It is said that if you do not bath on this day, you will fall upon bad luck the rest of the year. Khichi is prepared. Kite flying and (sesame seeds) and gud (jaggery) are found in the songs sung on this day.
In West Bengal, Sankranti, also known Poush Parbon (It falls on 14 January on the Western calendar.) All sections of society participate in a three-day begins on the day before Sankranti and ends on the day after. The freshly harvested paddy and the date palm syrup in the form of Khejurer Gur and Patali is used in the preparation of a variety of traditional Bengali sweets made with rice flour, coconut, milk and ‘khejurer gur’ (date palm jaggery) and known as ‘Pitha’ . The Goddess Lakshmi is usually worshipped on the day of Sankranti.
So you see, even though celebrated for the reason, the colorful states of India each celebrate this day in numerous different ways and on different days. Observing the celebrations is a great indicator of the heritage of a person and what part of India they belong to.
Did you know this about these festivals? Do you know any more differences? Feel free to share the same below
Celebrated on the 13th of January every year, Lohri is celebrated to mark the end of peak winter, this festival is traditionally associated with the harvest of the rabi crops. The traditional time to harvest sugarcane crops is January, therefore, Lohri is seen by some to be a harvest festival. And thus, Punjabi farmers see the day after Lohri (Maghi) as the financial New Year. The festival of Lohri, which is celebrated primarily by Sikhs and Punjabi Hindus all across India and is traditionally believed to welcome the sun to the northern hemisphere. Observed a night before Makar Sankranti, this occasion involves a Puja Parikrama around the bonfire with prasad.
The rituals related to Lohri symbolize the attachment of the people with Mother Nature.
You can choose to mark this occasion in any way you like.
I have been celebrating Lohri since a few years now, with friends who have shared their festivities with us. From simple celebrations at home with snacking on the traditonal peanuts, popcorn, seasame to lavish parties with all of us dressed up in Punjabi attire with our hair decked in Parandas and dancing around a bon fire.
As anyone who has ever celebrated the festival in full fervor around the bonfire would tell you–gur rewri, peanuts and popcorns are threeedibles associated with this festival. Besides these, in Punjab’s villages, it is a tradition to eat Gajjak, Sarson da Saag and Makki Di Roti on the day of Lohri. It is also traditional to eat ’til rice’–sweet rice made with jaggery (gur) and sesame seeds.
Going around the fire singing “Sunder mundriye ho!”, adding popcorn, sesame etc to the fire dancing in the winters is a celebration you have to experience ONCE in your life time. It brings Punjab right into your heart.
The folklore — Sunder Mundriye — is actually the tale of a man called Dulla Bhatti, who is said to have lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. Being quite the ‘Robin Hood’ back in the day, Dulla Bhatti used to supposedly steal from the rich, and rescue poor Punjabi girls being taken forcibly to be sold in slave markets. He then went on to arrange their marriages to boys of the village, and provided them with dowries (from the stolen money). Amongst these girls were Sundri and Mundri, who have now come to be associated with Punjab’s folklore, Sunder Mundriye.
Read this book about the festival of Lohri to your kids.
Lohri holds extra significance when there’s a new marriage or new born in the family.
Simple ways to celebrate Lohri are –
Fly a Kite. Please don’t say you don’t know how to fly one! …
Enjoy snacks of peanuts, popcorn, chikki etc while sitting around a fireplace.
Dress up in parandas/colorful Indian attire.
Have Sarso Da Saag and Makki Di Roti.
Light up a bonfire.
Dance around the fireplace with your friends and family.
Read a book or watch videos about Punjabi folk tales/Lohri
You can see the fun of Lohri in this song from the movie Veer Zara. It wonderfully captures the essence of this festival. Colorful dresses, teasing between friends/family, food and dance is a big part of most Indian celebrations.
Have you heard of this festival before? Would you bring the warmth of Lohri into your home?
Festivals are one way to understand any culture, right? The way we celebrate, the food that we prepare, the traditions that we follow etc., say a lot about our culture. We, Indians have many festivals to celebrate and this post is about the festivals celebrated in the Southern part of India in Andhra Pradesh state.
The First Important festival celebrated by Hindus is the Makara Sankranthi. This is also called the Harvest festival. “Sankranthi” in the Sanskrit language means the transmigration of the Sun to another zodiac sign.
I love making rangolis with colors for this festival. I also love the traditional food that we prepare for this festival like chakralu (crispy fritters), arisalu (Sweet made with rice flour and jaggery) and laddus.
The Next important festival for us is Ugadi. Ugadi is usually celebrated in March and it is considered to be Telugu New year.
We prepare a special dish called ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ on that day, which has 6 different flavors/ tastes. This is to remember that life is full of ups, downs, bitterness, happiness and a mixed bag of feelings.
Ugadi Pachadi made with the following flavors is my favorite.
salt (salty-ness), jaggery (sweet), neem flowers (bitterness), tamarind/ mango (sourness), banana (tardy ness) and green chilies (spice).
We also prepare Pulihora (Rice item spiced with tempering) and Mango dal on that day.
We follow a tradition of listening to “Panchaga sravanam” which is a future prediction told by pandits reading the panchangam (predictions written for different zodiac signs).
Sreerama Navami is celebrated on the 9th day after the beginning of the new year. We pray Lord Rama on this day.
We prepare Panakam (a drink made with water, pepper , nd jaggery) which is good to beat the summer heat.
In Bhadrachalam, Seetha rama kalyanam (A marriage of God Rama and Goddess Sita) is celebrated on that day and many devotees attend the event.
We celebrate Varalakshmi vratham/ Pooja in August. Married women usually do pooja and fast the whole day. Like many other festivals, we prepare a lot of dishes to offer God and later we feast. Some famous items are Garelu, Boorelu, Payasam, and pulihora.
Vinayaka Chavithi is another major festival where the whole family participates together. Vinayaka Chavithi is a festival celebrated to pray Lord Ganesha who is worshipped to ensure new beginnings and avoid all hurdles in the path of success.
We usually buy a clay idol of Lord Ganesha, hang all types of fruits above the God on a wooden structure called palavelli and perform pooja. We also prepare many tasty dishes like talukalu (made with rice flour and jaggery and milk), pulihora, chalividi (sweet made with rice flour and jaggery) etc.,
Dasara is a festival celebrated around September where we pray Goddess Durga for 9 days. Women also chant “Lalitha sahasranamam” (religious chant) every evening on those 9 days. We set idols in a step pattern for display and we call this “Bommala Koluvu”.
Zoo class. Dance class. Scouts. Science hour at the museum. Soccer. Basketball. Karate. Gymnastics. Violin. Art class. There are so many different activities for kids to participate in. It’s easy to be tempted to sign an eager kid up for every opportunity you come across – but is it good to do so? Are we in danger of over-scheduling our kids?
The Feast of Opportunity
I home school, so the temptation to take advantage of every activity offering my kids the opportunity to be around other kids is strong. After all,One of the nice things about homeschooling is freeing the kids up to participate in a variety of activities. But even for those who don’t homeschool, there is a plethora of after school activities available to choose from. But how do you know when enough is enough? Is there too much of a good thing?
It feels like kids today have more options than ever before. Most museums and zoos offer a wide variety of classes. There’s in home and out of home instruction. If you live in a college town, the university offers a variety of opportunities for kids. Schools have before and after school programs as well as a selection of clubs from which to choose. There are community center classes and studio classes. Some places even offer foreign language instruction to children. That doesn’t even include Girl Scouts and Scouts, 4-H, youth groups, and other community opportunities existing for kids.
Commitments add up pretty quickly. While it may feel like an hour here, and an hour there, kids still have to get to their activities. Not only does over-scheduling children have a negative effect on kids, but it can have a big negative effect on family life as a whole. Carting kids around from activity to activity means that someone is in the car an awful lot, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle. The likelihood of picking up food from a drive through goes up when kids are over-scheduled, and parents’ don’t get much downtime for themselves.
It’s important to factor in the time it takes to get to and from activities into one’s schedule before committing to another activity.
Signs a Child is Over-Scheduled
If a child is losing interest in activities that he or she once enjoyed, it could be the case that he or she is over-scheduled and stressed. Sometimes, it’s harder for kids than it is for adults to speak up about their needs for downtime – especially because our kids want us to be happy. If your child has no interest in previous things he or she enjoyed, it may be time to cut back on some activities.
Burnout isn’t the only sign a child is over-scheduled. If a child doesn’t have time for a social life or sitting and vegetating in front of a television set for an hour or two, it’s going to be more difficult for that child to learn how to just be. It’s actually good for kids to be bored once in a while or sit and watch the paint on the wall. Not only can this lead to creative spurts, but it can also help your child recharge so that he or she is processing what was learned through a day.
Frequent complaints about stomach aches, headaches, or other physical discomfort can be a sign that your child is experiencing the physical side effects of stress.
Another sign a child is overschedules is an increase in the number of mood swings or in the frequency of grumpy moods and tantrums. Kids who don’t get enough time to just sit or have open-ended play are also likely to have a difficult time calming for sleep and getting restful sleep. Some activities could cut into times that would otherwise be used for napping or sleeping at night. Remember, kids still need a lot of sleep.
A final sign a child is over-scheduled is that the child starts to do poorly in school. Learning needs a certain amount of intellectual energy. If a child isn’t having regular downtime and time free from scheduled commitments, then burnout is a real threat, and just like with adults, it can bleed over into every area of life.
How to Prevent Over-Scheduling
It’s okay if your child doesn’t take every opportunity that comes his or her way. In fact, learning how to say “no” to things is an important part of growing up and choosing the path that one will follow. Offering choices – gymnastics or Scouts, youth group or art class, can help your child start to prioritize what he or she wants to focus on in non-academic time.
Let your child choose his or her activities. Sure, for the preschool set, it’s fine to sign a child up for an activity or two to test the waters, but older kids have preferences. Be willing to listen to your child’s feedback. If soccer isn’t working out, it’s okay for your child to not continue it next season – and if over-scheduling isn’t a concern, allow your child to drop it after the commitment to the current season is finished.
Make a master schedule of all the things your child is committed to already. Be sure to include meal times, self care, sleep, time for homework, and time for schoolwork (if you’re homeschooling) on the schedule. Add in all of the activities your child is already committed to on the schedule. How much free time is left? When will your child have friends over? When will he or she have unstructured time to play?
When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there? – Thich Nhat Hanh
Here are some shocking statistics on holiday gifts. About $16 billion were predicted to be wasted on unwanted gifts in 2017 holiday season in America alone. 1 in 2 people dislikes at least one gift each holiday. (Source: https://www.finder.com/unwanted-gifts)
Do you realize how much waste of energy and time that is? So many meaningful things could be done with that money and time by so many people. I recently conducted a poll in a group that I am a part of and the top 3 holiday stressors were money, relationships, and shopping.
If we are spending money on unwanted gifts for people we are stressed to meet in the first place, there is something to be looked at and changed.
But before that let me share a story about a time when I received a gift that I immediately threw in the trash.
A Birthday Gift That Ended In Trash
It was my birthday a few years ago . One of my acquaintances (after this incident I do not know if I should call them friends) gave me a gift basket. My primary love language is receiving gifts.
Of course, I was very excited to receive it. As I opened it, I happened to find a love note from another friend to this friend in the basket. Ta-DA! It was re-gifted!
I took a deep breath in and let go. This was the second time, I had received a “re-gift” with a note inside from the same person. I unwrapped the basket.
I decided to let go of the re-gifting thought and took the products out from the plastic to see what they were. At this point, I was still into the gift.
I have a habit of reading at the back of the product to see the ingredients, etc. This was a bath products basket and it was Made in China (which is fine because what is not made in China these days?). But it came with a warning. “Throw this product if you get urine infection after using it.” WHAT????
I looked at all bath products I use and none of those had that warning. I took the basket, sighed and threw it in the trash. For a person whose primary love language is gifts, a gift this unthoughtful on her birthday is a horrible mistake.
Yes, the thought counts. But a thought would have been enough if there was no thoughtfulness involved after that.
I worked for a fabulous company that made high-quality fragrance and bath products. I know first hand it takes a lot of stress on people who work in gift industries to make sure they put gifts in the retail stores on time.
It is a pretty stressful time as much as I remember when people are striving to get those holiday orders in.
With all this background, all I could think was that this gift was a terrible waste of time and energy of the entire supply chain.
Now you might be wondering what a love language is, so here is a small introduction before we move forward:
Five Love Languages
In The Five Love Languages book, author Gary Chapman outlines the 5 ways that a person may express and experience love. Everyone has a primary and secondary love language. He uses examples from his counseling practice, as well as questions to help determine one’s own love languages.
The list of 5 Love Languages is as follows:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
His theory is that people have specific ways in which they receive love and usually use the same ways to express their love. If you pay attention to how people love to communicate their love, you might be able to understand their expectations better.
How can we be more present in this holiday season?
1: Learn and use love languages as a guide to picking gifts
If you take the time to notice people in your lives, you can discover their love languages. Maybe they are giving you hints by doing something nice for you quite often.
Maybe they give you compliments all the time. Maybe they like to hold hands or touch your shirt or love a blanket or scarf or velvet. Maybe they are always planning activities to spend time together.
We are growing to be a generation of less attention span. But at the same time, we are moving to be a more mindful generation as well.
When you are more aware of our surroundings every moment and have an intention of understanding your partner, loved one, child, friend or colleagues love language, you will, of course, find it.
2: Add thoughtfulness to your thought
When you give a gift to a person, it shows that you care about them. That is a nice thought. Now go one step ahead and be thoughtful. Ask a few questions to get clarity on your gift for this person:
What does this person remind you of?
What difference have they made to you in your life?
What would help them feel special with your gift?
Do you really want to give them a gift and go through all this process?
Are they really that important to you or is this really another check mark?
3. If not sure, ask!
If you have not been present too much and not aware of this person’s love languages and you still want to give them a gift. Ask if they have a gift list they can share.
You can look what they like on their social media pages, Amazon wish lists to get hints. You can ask their close friends or relatives if you know them.
4. Keep essence of the season in mind
If you are getting too worked up, about giving gifts, stop. Remember the essence of the season. It is not about gifts.
It is about the celebration of life. It is about counting your blessings. It is about remembering what you are grateful for.
There are times when you might not be able to give gifts to everyone you know. In those times, let your actions and your presence be the greatest gift.
Smile. Make people smile. Give compliments. Show them that you care. Be there.
Remember, people do care about how you make them feel. Most importantly, remember your children are watching how you treat your relationships.
Materialism is secondary. But if you have decided to re-gift, then all I want to say is, please remember to remove the old tag!
Bio: Sneha J is the CEO and Founder of Stress Less With Sneha J (https://stresslesswithsnehaj.com). Sneha is passionate about helping men and women in leadership roles stress less and connect with their inner-happy using mindfulness, mindset, and energy healing principles. She helps them channel their stress-inducing emotions into productive outcomes. Get her free Stress Free Holidays Playbook at https://stresslesswithsnehaj.com/stress-free-holidays/
The origin of the Advent Calendar can be traced back to the 19th. Century. The first styles came from the German protestant area where religious families made a chalk line for every day in December until Christmas Eve. The first known Advent Calendar which was made by handwork is from the year 1851. Since then, this Christian tradition has been part of the Holidays repertoire of many families around the world. Family member and friends look for the perfect Advent Calendar to begin the holidays celebrations.
This calendar come in a multitude of forms, from a simple paper calendar with flaps covering each of the days to fabric pockets on a background scene to painted wooden boxes with cubby holes for small items. Many families craft their Advent Calendars themselves, making of this process a great opportunity to kick off the Christmas season. There are so many wonderful ideas out there to create the perfect calendar for your family. Chocolates, candy, fudge, small toys, pocket books and many other items are suitable to keep children excited about opening their calendar every day.
How to nurture children’s curiosity and raise global awareness during the Holidays season?
A multicultural Advent Calendar is the answer!
Each day of this years advent my family and I are concentrating in being present, giving our time and attention as a gift, and learning more about holiday traditions around the world. These are some of the ideas that have made our Multicultural Advent Calendar possible. Remember to include some nick-knacks from your country of origin to learn more about your own heritage. Cultural awareness begins with the recognition and appreciation of one’s culture.
Time to visit your local ethnic market.
From food to pottery, ethnic stores are a great place to introduce your children to another culture. It is a tiny appetizer to the knowledge of fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, sweets, pastries, and even clothing from other countries. Depending on the age of your children, you can simply buy a traditional sweet as a gift for some of the days of the Advent Calendar, or you can gift the excitement of a new adventure. How? Write a note that the kids will unwrap to discover that they have been invited to explore a new supermarket with many things from far away lands. You can even include a small allowance for them to spend there.
2. Sweets and Storytelling go together.
Enclosed your child’s favorite chocolate and a note inviting him to spend time on the sofa with mom and dad listening to a fun Christmas story. We have many books that we have collected over the years about Christmas around the world. Children love to hear what people from other countries eat on Chistmas Eve, or what present kids receive in other cultures. Keep it fun!
3. Spending time together is always fun.
In any language, in any culture, the need for interaction is key element of happiness. The Holidays season is a great opportunity to give ourselves to others and experience the positive rush of thinking of others and helping the community. Including some “days” in your Advent Calendar designated to spending time together as a family is always fun and cheap (for those like us that are always on a budget). My daughter loves rubbers (erasers), so for her we packed tiny unicorn erasers along with a note (pink paper of course) that says “hot cocoa time with mom”. On that day, I turn off my mobile phone, set the iPad aside, and make delicious hot chocolate to be drunk with my princess, just the two of us, chatting and enjoying the warmth of our decorated living room.
4. Treasure hunt meets Christmas season.
Treat your children to clues that will lead to a wonderful prize! Maybe a weekend getaway or a visit to a museum to learn more about your local culture. Kids will be for sure excited about going on a trip with mom and dad, and parents can make of this trip the perfect opportunity to explore their own traditions. Make an effort to prepare beforehand for the event. Reading about the place to be visited is always a good idea, that way children can reinforce hands-on what they have learned at home. Remember that if traveling is beyond the means of your family’s budget, you can try the next big thing: find a movie that will anchor your adventure. A film about other culture is a nice foundation for further knowledge.
5. Teach you child the “saving & sharing” lesson.
Saving is a skill that must be learned from a young age. Depositing a special Advent “bonus” into your child’s account is an exciting way to nurture the love for saving. Therefore, prepare an Advent day where kids unwrap a chocolate and a note that says that money has been added to their savings account. Do you want to take this gift one step further? Encourage your children to look for a charitable cause to donate part of their bonus to help those in need. There are a huge number of websites with information about charity institutions around the world. Help your children to choose one and then learn more about that country.
In conclusion, it is important that your family enjoys the Advent time and learn about diverse Christmas traditions. However, let’s not forget that despite the pervasiveness of Christmas, it is critical that any globally minded person not assume that everyone celebrates it. Be open to diversity and enjoy different cultures and “Christmasses”.
As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to make a huge deal out of the holidays. Thanksgiving is no different in our house. I start planning for it months ahead by perusing recipe books and magazines, making notes about favorite recipes from years past, and putting together a plan. One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving, though, is pulling together everyone in the family to work together toward a common goal – making an amazing and delicious meal.
That means that we involve our kids in Thanksgiving prep – in age-appropriate ways. Here are some tips for involving kids of different ages in this annual holiday.
The Smallest Kids
We’ve always either had an open kitchen or a large enough kitchen to set up a high chair in the kitchen itself near the food prep area. Even though children under 18 months old can’t do a lot of the actual prep work, I still like to include them if they’re old enough to be sitting up in a high chair. It’s fun for them to bang wooden spoons on the high chair tray, play with some homemade playdough, and taste some of the ingredients (chopped up apple, anyone?) It makes it nice, because from the littlest ages, my kids are used to being part of the festivities.
Toddlers (18 months – 3) make great stirrers, and many are capable of helping to help measure and pour ingredients into a mixing bowl. You can also have them tear lettuce for salads. I try to pick one or two recipes that my toddler can be fully involved with helping. I stress the importance of good kitchen hygiene (wash your hands, please), but this helps develop a good sense of self-confidence when that salad they helped with makes it onto the plate. I also like making salad dressing in a shaker bottle and allow the toddler to shake the salad dressing.
It’s also fun to have a couple of projects on hand that toddlers can do to help decorate the Thanksgiving table. The dollar store and Target’s Dollar Spot are great resources for this. Foam stickers are great for this age as they work the fine motor skills. Coloring pages, stickers, and other simple arts and crafts projects will help keep toddlers busy while you’re doing the things they can’t help with.
Preschoolers (3-5) are a fun group. They really want to help, but they often want to help with the things that they can’t quite do. For this age, it’s great to put them to work on things they can do – like putting together sauce ingredients, measuring and adding ingredients to recipes, stirring things, tearing lettuce, cutting anything that can be cut with a butter knife, pushing buttons on appliances, etc. My soon-to-be-five year old loves to help with all of these things, and she does a good job of listening to directions, keeping her hands clean, and being safe.
Good activities include making place cards for guests (tracing names if they’re not yet writing), making crafted decorations, and helping to clean up toys from around the house. Preschoolers will also enjoy helping to set the table (the silverware, napkins, and placemats – leave the crystal and china to older children and/or adults).
For familiar products and produce, preschoolers can begin to help with the Thanksgiving shopping at the store (with supervision). It can be a lot of fun for them to pick out the right apples for the pie and to grab the acorn squash that’s at their reaching level.
Here are when things get fun. Once a child can read, he or she can (supervised) put together a dish of his or her own. My oldest has always made the deviled eggs for Thanksgiving and Easter, for as long as I can remember. Let your child choose an easy-to make with minimal help from mom or dad dish, and be in charge of that dish.
School age kids can also help cut and prep ingredients, given that they are tall enough to reach the surface they are cutting on without a stool or sitting on knees on a chair. You can use a kids’ table for this. You just don’t want your child to lose balance and fall backwards with a knife in his or her hands. Pre-teens can help to stir items on the stove – again, with the caveat that they do not need a step or chair to do so. Baking pies is a great activity for this age.
These children can also set the table in its entirety, and help to decorate the tablescape.
As children learn to read, you can assign them to get ingredients at the store that are at their arm level. You can even give older tweens (10, 11, 12) their own list to be responsible for at the store.
I put my teenager in charge of several items every year. By this age, they should know their way around the kitchen, be able to read and modify recipes, and know and understand all basic kitchen chores. Let your teenager choose a few recipes and then be in charge of researching them and adding the ingredients to their own shopping list, and then having them grab their items at the store. You get points for giving them a budget to work with, as this is an important life skill.
Because I have kids with a wide age-discrepancy, my oldest in the past has made his own recipes, helped with other recipes and things like washing dishes between making different things, and supervised younger siblings as they carried out their roles.
Making it a Fun Holiday
The best part of Thanksgiving is the tradition of togetherness that surrounds the holiday. Allowing children to be involved with the prep for any holiday makes for a nice tradition in and of itself. Be sure to allow for extra time if you’re involving small hands – that will help to give you more patience, and make sure the experience is a positive one for everyone.
One fine day, a boy was watching a YouTube video and his mom peeped. A dance competition among the family members caught her eyes. It looked so fun and such a great way to connect and bond among the family members that she asked her son what program that was and eventually requested him to play the game in order to achieve the different dance steps.
What?!? A mom asking her son to play games?
I know you feel like throwing eggs and start judging how ignorant this mom is that mom is ME. Guess what game was that? It was Fortnite. Want to throw eggs at me, right? Well, before you do that. Let me tell you something.
I understand that many parents hate video games. The first thing that comes to your mind is of no learning values and there are many news about how those games can have negative effects on the children.
Parents fear that the children will get addicted and dropped everything else that they are supposed to do. Parents fear that they will have a problem managing their child.
I am a parent and I was a gamer too. I understand how addictive video gaming is and what kind of influence it may have on a person, which is why I allow my child to play. Many parents look at gaming as a bad influence but there is a good side of it as well and I’m making use of that good side to parent my gaming child.
I have already listed out the bad sides and I don’t think I need to list out more because I bet you can list out more than I do. I am going to show you the good side of it. You may think, “Hang on! Are you sure there are any good sides of it?” Well now, listen to me here before you start judging.
Do you ever play games?
If you do, then why are you stopping your child from playing it?
Do you know that games are not just plain playing?
They do need to find out strategies to get to next level. It requires them to do problem solving (critical thinking) and build their confidence and determination to reach to the next level or reach their goals.
On top of that it improves their motor-skills, creativity and is a form of stress-relief for them too.
Yes, some gaming scene can be rather violent and parents worried this can be detrimental to their development. But if you don’t expose them what violence is about, how would they know what it is.
Video gaming requires loads of parenting guidance to be frank. It requires a balancing work between the parent and the child.
How do I Manage the Balance ?
We have house rules set:
We only to play during weekends and there is always time limit set for each game. Usually 1 hour per game. Extra time will be given if their conduct is good.
They have to be responsible for their own time-table. During or near exam periods, they know that they have to cut down their game time and focus on their revision first.
They know that whatever applies to the game is just for the game and not in real life. What I mean here is, the violence they see in the game, the vulgar language that they hear in the game is only for the game. They do not apply this in real life.
Before any game, they need to make sure they have finished what they are supposed to do. E.g. Household chores, homework, revision, etc.
House rules should not be overlooked and is important when you allowing your child to do something and you need a limit to it. By the way, our weekends are not all spent on staying home and video gaming. We do head outdoors very often for nature walking or sports. We have loads of playdates and family gatherings as well where everyone will interact and play together not gather to sit at your own space and started looking at your own device. I know these happens to many people.
Balance is really the key and parenting guidance is important. Both my husband and I do discuss about the games together with our children and we play together with them as well.
All parents want the best of their children, so get alongside with them so that they feel that we are part of their world as well and they feel more welcomed then feeling that parents are always against them. This way, they are more open to you and you get to know them way much better than worrying too much about the “what-ifs” and struggling with the power of parenting.
I am Lup Wai, a Parent Whisperer who helps families to transform their relationship with their children while injecting fun into it so that they can develop a nurturing, healthy and happy connection. Being a parent is so much more about just feeding and clothing a child. I help families to bring back the fun and build a long last relationship with your child which is crucial for a healthy and happy home. Your can follow me on Instagram here.