When you hear the word discipline in context of kids you picture screaming or out of control kids. Here we are talking about discipline in a positive light.
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.
Activities To Do With Children During Holi:
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.
I highly recommend “Let’s Celebrate Holi “ by Ajanta chakraborty and Vivek Kumar.
With beautiful illustrations, the book walk you through how Holi is celebrated with family, friends, and neighbors!
We also loved reading ‘Celebrate Holi With Me!’ (From The Toddler Diaries) by Shoumi Sen.
4.)Enjoy Some Holi Crafts With Kids:
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.
You can follow our PINTEREST World Celebrations board here for MORE ideas – https://www.pinterest.com/raisingworldchildren/world-celebrations/
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:
6.) Holi Music And Songs For Kids:
Our family loves music. Holi music has a way of transporting you to India and enhancing your celebration. Children learn about the festival very quickly through these fun songs and dances. Here are some of our favorite song videos that we enjoy the most.
7.) Celebrate Holi with family and friends:
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”!!
The Webster dictionary has many definitions for the word “family”. For me the one that held true for most of my life is “Family: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head”.
As a kid I was not comfortable being alone in the house for long periods. Though it mostly never came to that as there was always family around. Many a times I tried to get over this seemingly silly hang up but then consoled myself I don’t really need to as we had a full house.
Fast forward 30 years and I’m no longer the sacredly kid that I was. You see, now there is no way I can avoid being alone at home and even look forward to some alone time.
In a few sentences this is the evolution of Indian families over the years. This transition might be common across many cultures but few would have been as drastic as ours has been.
What does family mean to you? It does not matter how close you are to yours but we need to go that extra mile to give our kids that strong sense of family.
Families come in varied shapes and sizes. The most weird thing is, other peoples families always seems to be way better than your own, which is mostly not true.
For me a family is this group of people who always had time for each other with wholehearted dedication.
THEN:As the saying goes “It takes a village to bring up a child”.
This was most Indian families for you once. We grew up in a household conisiting of grandparents with a healthy sprinkling of aunts,uncles and cousins thrown in.
There were ready playmates those cousins your first friends. With no dearth of people ready to meddle in your life, you were never left alone. One persons problems were tackled by the whole clan.
Even with the over indulgence and continuous sense of being watched family was what you would return to at the end of the day.
New mothers never had to face the dilemma of how to do and what to do, there were always a hand to help. Every aspect of things had a listening ear. Overly patient grandparents with their own life experiences were a treasure trove of guidance.
Like everything this package came with its drawbacks: over interference, over indulgent kids difficult to discipline and not getting independent, to name a few.
NOW:The change in family dynamics over the years has left the family units some what fragmented.
Today’s Indian society is mostly nuclear families with busy parents and limited communication with the extended family. These families see much less conflict of interests leaving breathing space for each other.
Kids in this generation are more self-sufficient and open to change.
A sense of family and belonging that children learn from sharing their life and space with an extended family. Children growing up in nuclear families do not get exposure to that extra love and warmth.
What is really sad is Children completely missing the life experiences and stories from a whole generation.
HOW FAMILIES ARE BUILT:
Living together makes a family but strong roots need a deep rooted value system. How do we teach our kids the value of families? One of the foundation bricks that make a family strong is tolerance.
There will always be someone in a family who will think and act unconventional.
Everyone’s threshold of tolerance is bound to be different.
What might be a non-issue for one person might mean the world to the other.
Every person’s reaction to a similar situation might differ.
You might be a multitasking genius while some other can barely accomplish one thing at a time.
The basic comes down to each pillar of the family unit not being alike. What matters is love, tolerance and unconditional acceptance with a slight nudge in the right direction.
Children and especially teenagers should have the confidence that families don’t judge, they just help each other become happier and better version of themselves.
KEEPING IN TOUCH:
The bane of recent times is being busy. Everyone is juggling a million things, some doing a better job at it then the others. Being so occupied leaves us very little time and patience to keep in touch with even those who matter.
The simplest solution is make time. Remember those important dates of family members. Not all communication has to be long. Drop in simple messages or short calls.
Loosing touch with family is the main reason for widening gaps overtime. Distances might make the hearts fonder but will definitely leave relations strained.
Let your kids see you make those efforts. Don’t wait for the other to take the first step, go ahead and initiate communication you won’t regret it.
Even in a deeply materialistic world giving someone your time is still precious.
FAMILIES GIVE ROOTS AND WINGS:
I believe my parents gave us siblings both roots and wings. We are not afraid to encounter the new while staying true to our beliefs.
This is what I look forward to passing on to my children. Children need strong roots so they can fly.
A big tree rooted in the ground can withstand any storm while weeds just float.
Have small family traditions, holiday celebrations. Talk to your kids about your own childhood, delve into your own background to give them the understanding that family is there to support them and not arrest their flight.
I’m positive I may never approve of all the life choices that my kids will make but i want them to know that whatever they encounter there is always family to count on.
There are friends and friends like family but there will be no one else like family .They accept you just the way you are.
They might judge you at times, drive you crazy and there are phases in life when you run away from them .
Family inundates you with emotional baggage but it is the anchor that ties down a ship to prevent it from going astray. Even when they might throw you to rough sea at times.
Today life is fraught with too much exposure and trying to overcome distances can be hard. So it becomes a task to make sure the familial bonds are strong enough to stand the tides of time and circumstances. But the first step is to ingrain in our kids the value of these family bonds and all else just follows.
Do you live in an extended family or a nuclear family?What steps do you take to make your kids understand the significance of family?
“Oh! Your kids are going to be born with lots of hair.”, said anyone to whom I cribbed about the acidity I experienced while pregnant. “I would rather have them come out bald.”, I would remark.
And sure as sunshine, they both were born with a full head of baby soft, fine hair. As they grew, their hair got super curly and thick and I started dreading the Mundan ceremony.
The process where you shave off all the baby’s hair at 7,9,11 months or 1 year or 3 years. They say it ensures thicker, fuller hair coming but has a lot of basis in traditional medicine too. What is ideally supposed to happen is that you take the baby to your native temple, the priest performs the ceremony, your family is of course there, you shave the baby’s head, wash it, apply haldi to it and then the hair is submerged in the water body near said temple.
Tonsure In USA
With my son, I was a new mom. So, going to India for the traditional Mundan ceremony was out of the question for me. So, on my mother in law’s suggestion, we kept it simple. When she visited a year later, we took him to a local barber shop, got all his hair trimmed off and then she took the hair with her to India. We prayed at home and wished him well. It was easy, no fuss.
Mundan in India
With my daughter though, it was hell on earth. The Indian barber came home, and seeing his scary razor I asked for him to use a trimmer. His trimmer was so much more worse. My daughter hated being made to sit still at 7 months. She cried and screamed as his horrid trimmer buzzed loud in her ears and then her hair was cut uneven because of course the trimmer wasn’t sharp. The whole family was crying with my little girl as she raised hell. It took a good hour to get it done.
If I could go back in time, I would just make sure to take her to a professional salon vs someone another suggests.
With all my experience in the past years, I’ve seen that kids, my kids have always had a better experience doing traditional things where I have known where to go through personal research.
I do not say, do not go the traditional route. I would however encourage you to keep things simple. Trim off the hair when and where the kids are most comfortable, at an older age and make sure to do the rest with a complete heart, having faith in the fact that no matter how you do something, the intention of giving your child the complete experience will stay true.
Have you had a Mundan or Tonsure done for your kids? Is this something you would consider doing? Have you had the traditional ear piecing ceremony done for your kids?
The origin of Diwali is a wonderful way to explain to children, how good always conquers evil. The many stories that form the foundation of this world celebration, are a lesson in life about how to always stand true when faced with difficult choices. You may be surprised to learn, Diwali is celebrated across different sub cultures of India for various reasons. And thus, holds an extremely special meaning in the lives of many. Contrary to popular belief, not all Indians traditionally follow the same Hindu culture and yet, Diwali is one of the most auspicious days in the lives of many. People from different parts of India celebrate this day for different reasons.
Lord Ram, the most beloved prince and son is sent to exile by his father because of a promise he made to one of his wives (granting any two wishes when she wants). Laxman, his devoted brother chooses to go on exile with his brother and sister in law Sita. After years of hardships, Sita one day sees a deer she desires and on her behest Sri Ram and Laxman go after it. She consequently gets kidnapped by Raavan when she crosses the Laxman rekha (a spellbound line made outside their home to keep her safe by her brother in law). Ram and Laxman slay Raavan, saving her with the help of Hanuman an ardent devotee of Sri Ram. They all come back home to Ayodhya (on Diwali) among great pomp and show only to send her into exile all on her own when a citizen of the city raises a question of her purity after living with Raavan for so many years. She goes into the forest where she brings up her two sons. After years, when his sons cross his path in battle, Lord Ram goes back to bring his wife home. She in turn chooses to go back to Mother Earth instead. The Return of the Pandavas: Another story about the origins of the Diwali is within the great epic ‘Mahabharata,’ it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ when the five Pandavas (brothers Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva) appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.
In South India, Lord Krishna slaying Narakasura. Narakasura was a demon drunk with power stole the earrings of Aditi (mother of all Devas) and kidnapped 16000 women. The Devas were unable to stop him and so they went to Lord Vishnu to reincarnate as Krishna, so as to destroy the evil demon and save the women.
Marwaris and Gujratis
Diwali is the new year time for Marwaris and Gujaratis. This is when the merchants close the accounts of the old year and pray to the goddess of wealth that the new year should open with even bigger increase of trade. Kali Chaudas is devoted to the worship of Maha-Kali or Shakti as this is the day Kali killed the wicked Raktavija. Also referred to as Narak-Chaturdashi, Kali Chaudas is the day to abolish laziness and evil. Thus, many regions pray to Goddess Laxmi (giver of weath) on this day. Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, emerging from a feud between the gods and demons, who were tangled in a race to obtain the nectar of immortality. Consulting Lord Vishnu in this pursuit, they could successfully churn the nectar of immortality from Goddess Lakshmi, who chose Vishnu to be her companion, consequently Lord Vishnu carried goddess Lakshmi to the heavens.
To the Jains it marks the day after Lord Mahavira attained nirvana. He was released from his worldly body on the night of the full moon. So the people of Pavapuri, where he attained nirvana, lit lamps in their doorways as a symbol of their guru’s enlightenment.
According to Myth Gyan , Mahavira attained Moksha at the dawn of the Amavasya (new moon). He was cremated at Pawapuri. It is believed that many Gods were present there illuminating the darkness. But the following night was pitch black.
So people illuminate their houses in order to symbolically keep the light of their master’s knowledge alive.
This day for Sikhs celebrates the release of Guru Hargobindji along with 52 Indian kings who were imprisoned along with him at the Gwalior fort by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1619. This day is thus also known as Bandi Chorr Diwas (meaning the day of freedom).
Diwali is also celebrated in Nepal and the Indian states of Assam, Sikkim and Darjeeling in West Bengal. The five-day festival in these places is considered to be of great importance as it shows reverence to not just the humans and the Gods, but also to the animals like crows, cows and dogs who maintain an intense relationship with humans.
It was the new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day) when the 19th-century scholar Maharshi Dayananda, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj, attained his nirvana. Dayananda’s great mission was to ask humankind to treat one another as brothers through practices of nobility.
In history, this day is celebrated as the coronation day of One of the greatest of Hindu kings, Vikramaditya. He was crowned on the Diwali day. The legendary emperor, who may have been a historical figure or based on one, is thought of as the ideal king, known for his generosity, courage, and patronage of scholars. Thus, Diwali became a historical event as well.
And thus, this day is celebrated across five days,
1. Dhanteras. 2. Choti Diwali (Naraka Chaturdasi). 3. Badi Diwali (Laxmi Puja). 4. Naya Saal (New Year). 5. Bhai Dooj. Many today, celebrate this day the whole month as the only time to rejoice available is on weekends. What is your reason to celebrate?
What does this conversation about origins of Diwali teach kids?
- Love your family.
- Support your loved ones always.
- Stand by what is right.
- Freedom is a birth right.
- Choices have consequences.
- Women should be nurtured.
- Every woman has a right to make her own choices.
- Above all, be loyal.
- Be careful about spending and save.
Do Not –
- Think ill of others.
- Let ego get in the way of your relationships.
- Disrespect those you care about.
- Make decisions in haste.
- Be selfish or greedy.
Deciding To Not Listen To The Village
It takes a village to raise a child. It is a belief still followed a little too strongly in India. Even before the little one is born, a mother’s mother, mother-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, aunts will have numerous suggestions about various home remedies to take care the baby.
My situation was no different, from the moment we shared the happy news with the family, I was instructed on what to eat, what to avoid, how to sit, how to sleep etc. Overwhelmed,I firmly decided that when my baby comes, the only person I am going to listen to is the pediatricians. After all, things have changed since my “mothers” had their children and I don’t want to follow any DIY remedies!
So there I was all set to welcome my little bundle of joy, armed with knowledge I gathered from the internet. I was all geared up and thought I could handle anything. The D-day finally arrived and soon I was holding my little angel.
There were a few hiccups in the beginning w.r.t. feeding and I realized that I had to supplement with infant formula from the start. I was a little disappointed but tried not to dwell on that.
My Pride Takes a Fall into Home Remedies
I am sure all moms here know that baby’s poop and gastric troubles one of our strange obsessions. My daughter faced multiple issues on that front. She would get terrible gas, so much so that she would huddle up and claw at her face in pain.
It hurt my heart to see her that way and I felt helpless. My Mother in law told me to give her a tea brewed with Dill seeds, Fennel seeds & Jaggery (for taste). I scoffed at the idea stating that the doctor has strictly told me not to give the baby anything apart from milk till she is at least 4 months old. She kept on insisting and I kept on ignoring her.
Then, at one of the visits to our doctor, we were given colic aid drops. I was happy to have some “official medication” to aid us. When I read the ingredients of the medication, lo and behold! What was it composed of?
Fennel seed oil and Dill seed oil!
So I decided to swallow my pride and make the tea. If we are giving the same stuff might as well go all natural right? Because of the Jaggery, my daughter lapped it up in no time and it worked like a charm! I could see a visible difference in my daughter in 2 days. I didn’t have to hold her up for too long to get her to burp and she no longer used her face as a scratching post.
[bctt tweet=”I realized home remedies have their own place #parenting #india” username=”contactrwc”]
The Second Lesson
My second challenge came with her bowel movement. Since she was on formula since day 1, it took her body some time to get used to the heavy food. This resulted in constipation. She would go for days without passing stools and when she would, it was a chore for her.
And what do you know, my grandmother had a remedy ready for this too !
She told me about an Ayurvedic wonder called “Bal Ghutti”. Ghutti is a paste made by rubbing some herbs such as Dry Dates, Almonds, Liqourice, Dry Ginger, Winter Cherry etc. on a stone slab. This paste can be made with either water or milk and is given to the baby to swallow. The quantity is very small to start with and is increased every month.
This wondrous thing can be given to babies for various basic ailments like constipation, indigestion, cough, fever, allergies. The ingredients differ for each problem of course. My grandmother brought a packet of all these herbs for me, along with handbook to understand how to administer the Ghutti for each issue. And of course as you can guess, my baby has had a very happy stomach since then knock on wood.
The incidences above not only humbled me, they also taught me the value of experience. Yes, it’s been a long time since my “mothers” have looked after kids, but they have grown up in joint families and have had a huge repertoire of wisdom passed onto them from their own elders. Besides their own experiences. They may not always know the logic or the science behind how something works, but they do know what is to be done!
That being said, it doesn’t mean that I will stop following the modern medicine, but now I don’t dismiss DIY suggestions either. Yes, they are going to overwhelm me with suggestions which still gets annoying. But I am also aware that they have nothing but love and concern for my baby in their hearts.
So yes, I will still ask my Doc’s opinion. I will still scour the Internet. But I will also ensure that when it comes to making a decision, the voice of my village is also heard! What are some home remedies that worked for you?
** Trigger Alert !
His hands slid down his brief case and before I knew it, they were on me. He pressed and pushed and groped. I sat stunned, unable to move. Praying for my bus stop to come. In a bus full of people, I was paralyzed. Voiceless. The bus stopped, finally. I rushed out of there, went home and told my aunt what happened.
Her response, “It’s your fault. Why didn’t you just get up?!”
I felt like I had been slapped. Why didn’t I get up and leave? What had been stopping me? Nothing!
After this, I knew better. I would get up when I sensed a man reaching for me. Before long, I would turn around and snap at the people next to him. Or just turn away. Or worse, ignore and walk way.
From an innocent 17, I went to a 22 year old expecting men to assault me wherever I walked. In India, it’s a silent acceptance that this is a regular occurrence.
There is anger but NO surprise when men touch your inappropriately, lech at you, cat call or even masturbate in front of you.
This blind acceptance is one of the roots of all sexual assault. It is accepted. And so when such incidents happen, some people think, “It happens. Deal with it.”
It is only after I’ve had a daughter that I have come to accept that a teenager, unless told how to handle a situation will not know how to react in any sexual situation. Be it assault or otherwise. My call to action in such situation was tell dad and mom, and that is what I thought I would do. That THEY (our guardians) would take action. And it is only recently, that I have come to question this blind acceptance.
No one says, THIS SHOULD JUST STOP.
Every group of girls sitting around has war scars of being assaulted. There are a lot of hows, but no whys. Moreover why is it that us girls are blamed for what happens to us?
Our skirts. Our attitude. Our behavior. Our choices.
Of all these, the only true reason for victim blaming is denial. Girls who are assaulted are blamed or not believed is because those who are doing the blaming are thinking, “This would NEVER happen to me.”
They are sitting on their high horse, thinking they are above it all. Either they have been through it, accepting it as something that happens naturally OR they have never experienced it, secretly hoping they never DO. For they are following some set para-dimes that they feel will keep them safe.
Whereas the one and only solution to this is raising men with awareness. Raising women with empathy.
Today I understand that my aunt having two sons and being of a certain age had maybe forgotten the shame, desperation and disgust a girl feels.
I never forgot what happened. I also never forgot what was said to me after. About me. How it made me feel so much worse. For what the man had done was natural to him. But I had thought my aunt would be the one protecting me.
I never forget. Not because I have a girl.
But because I have a boy, who is going to go out in the world. I have the responsibility as a mother, a woman and most importantly a human being to protect those around us to the best of my ability. To teach my son what it means to treat girls/women with respect. To tell him, what it means to be a good boyfriend. A great husband.
PASSING THE TORCH
A couple of weeks ago, he (now 7) said, “I don’t want to get married because I don’t like kissing girls. I don’t know why people have girl friends.”
I responded, “The best age to have a girl friend or boyfriend is when you are 20 because by then you have some understanding on how to be a good boyfriend or girlfriend. You have to care for them like dad cares about me. They are your responsibility.”
“Then why do teenagers have girlfriends?”
“Because some people think it is a matter of being cool. Sometimes you just like someone, and want to be around them more. But if you want to be a GOOD boyfriend, you have to know it is work, just like studying or being married. You have to be kind, gentle and loving.”
“Yuck! I don’t want to do all that with girls now. I think I will wait for when I’m old enough. “
Yes, there will be those out there who tell me he’s too young. But it is these very conversations that add up to a mentality in a society.
The only way to stop the vicious circle of sexual assault & victim blaming is to understand, that is is someone’s child who is going through something. It can happen to anybody. And this is not something that ANY VICTIM just forgets. It haunts them for the rest of their lives. And shows up in subtle ways.
So, there is certainly nothing wrong when it haunts the person who does the assault either. That is what is called justice. We need examples for our children, that we can say, THIS is what happens when you take scar someone. And THIS is absolutely why when we put men in power who have disrespected women or stay silent when another is being assaulted/harassed, we exemplify this horrendous behavior which seems to have No consequence.
It is up to us, to be a gentle world. To believe. To act. To empower the children of tomorrow with kindness and respect.
To stand up and say, “No MORE!”
How are you stopping the cycle of victim blaming? What are you doing to STOP this vicious cycle of assault and blame?
I an Indian, born and brought up in a small north Indian town named Roorkee. Ours is a land where both modern and traditional way of life manage to survive hand in hand. Here medicine, science, modern technology, old wives tales and superstition all keep jostling each other for space on the same platform.
I always believed that coming from a family where education is valued above all else, I had left the ‘knock-on-wood’ world far behind. I believed this ,that is, until I thought the word “baby” out aloud.
Let me tell you having a baby is just not simply conceiving a baby and carrying to term. It is also not only delivering the baby and then focusing on keeping your sanity while raising the child.
Yes, having a baby is all this and it is also dodging landmines of dangers lurking in every corner, waiting to attack. Dangers that are above and beyond the explainable logical world.
No matter how educated or modern an average Indian family is, the minute a (much awaited) baby knocks on their world, everything changes.
[bctt tweet=”Most modern Indian families turn to old wives talesthe minute things go wrong for their bundle of joy. ” username=”contactrwc”]
I learned that an Indian baby is apparently a ‘magnet’ for all the roving evil eyes in the world. The minute I broke the news of the pregnancy to both the would-be grandmothers, all the possible dangers in the land of the evil became real.
Out came the spools of black thread, packets of chili, and salts. The only way I was allowed to step out of the house was with various threads and amulets hanging around my neck(to ward off the evil EYE) and armed with onion and garlic(to ward off evil SPIRITS ). It was at this point that I realized that I it is not just the seen that you are battling with but also the unseen.
At this point if you try to appeal to the progressive men in the family, they simply nod and go back to their newspapers. Afterall, why take a chance and it’s just chili that is being burnt and salts being thrown and neither is frightfully expensive.
Giving Birth to My Cute Evil Eye Magnet
So, after dodging all the dangers and managing to stay alive, you give birth to the precious baby. This particular tiny person has a magnetic field so strong that every roving evil eye on the planet finds it’s way directly and sticks to it.
Indian grandmothers come fitted with special antennas that come out the minute the baby is out of the womb. In a world where thousands of babies are born every second, these antennas can pick up the exact number of times their precious little person has been cast upon with the evil eye.
Even before putting clothes on the baby we put a black dot on the baby’s face. This is a very “smart” dot, which stares right back at anyone trying to cast an evil eye on the baby and provides round the clock protection.
Next level of security are the black and red threads, these come with the tag ‘protecting-babies-since-eternity’.
Only once all the security measures are in place is the baby introduced to the world. As a new mother leaving the house with the baby meant carrying the essentials like onion, garlic and of course the baby bag, might need a diaper or something.
As the world knows babies tend to fall sick, but not every sneeze, cough or crying spell can be explained through science or medicine. It might be the doing of one of the well wishers secretly casting an evil eye, and being the strong magnet that the poor little kid is, results in getting sick.
After surviving the initial zombie, new mom phase, I felt I now have the hang of things. I decided to go back to my life and was sent packing with bags full of chili along with the other security measures and the grandmothers teary eyed blessings.
Once we kind of settled down some of our friends decided to come and visit the baby. It was a pleasant evening, with us showing off our little person, until the last guest left. That was the moment the baby started crying, so we changed, fed and walked the baby. The crying turned to screaming so we checked for any fever or discomfort.
Still after one hour of trying all we can the screaming would not stop and we were on the verge of panic. We decided to pack up and run to the grandmothers and never return without one of them. That is when an alternate solution hit me and I went running for the forgotten chili and salts. Once again the unexplained rescued us. Baby just calmed down.
I have been playing part time sorceress since, as and when needed, because why take a chance. I have been surviving my mom life with the help of Google, both the grand mothers and of course the additional security measures of divine help, all in that order.
So even though none of us would call ourselves superstitious people but when it comes to our kids, we walk a very fine line. Iphones in one hand and chili in the other, we keep battling parenting. We try to balance logic with the illogical, because why would anyone want to take a chance?,
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!!
The Indian value system is quite complex. On the one hand they have great core values like parents always standing by their children in every life situation and promoting joint family living situation. On the other hand every Indian Daughter is subconsciously taught that our contribution to society is valuable only in the context of wife and mother.
Being from a moderate yet conservative family, My life was not an exception., My parents tried their best to raise me well by providing for my many needs. I was happy with the choices they made for me.
To their credit, they tried to keep themselves update with the ever changing society norms. I was blessed with a perfect family with full of love and joy but there was always a subtle criticism involved when it came to some of my behavior and attitudes.
Even the best parents will yell at their daughters if they are sleeping past 9 a.m, laughing out so loud or being to social in the crowd because they think it is not appropriate.
” What will your future in-laws think of you and the way we have raised you “ was a frequent lament!
When the marriage topic was began for me at age 23, I felt I was in a different world altogether. I saw a completely different side to my mother. There are other families where getting married gets discussed when the daughter turns 21. I guess it’s fine, at the least you were be free for 21 years, sort of.
Yes, my in-laws are so sweet and caring and I never felt feared being myself around them. Initially though I cared for them because “in laws are your own family now. They come first and should get all the love and respect the second you become a wife. “ Thank god after some days I realized they really deserved it all for treating me like a daughter.
It’s like they were not only worried about society but also the future family I was going to get married. Our story is not unique though and unfortunately, many girls get influenced by this thinking. There are other families where getting married gets discussed when the daughter turns 21. I guess it’s fine, at the least you were be free for 21 years, sort of.
Raising My Indian Daughter Differently
Girls are taught to take up as little room as possible in this world, not just physically, but also in the way they speak, laugh and assert themselves. When I had my daughter I decided to parent her differently.
- If my daughter wants to play cricket in the street with boys, if she loves to climb trees or to laugh loudly or be boisterous, I will never stop her. I will trust my kid forever.
- I will wish to stand by her side in all situations. I will not accuse her of bringing shame to my family whenever she does something unreasonable.
- I will never ask her to put her passions and dreams on the back burner for getting married.
- I will not ask her bear a child within the so-called time limit of 28 years.
- She will be valued for the same reasons as every son for their intelligence, strength, creativity and passion.
If the parents like us don’t see our son and daughter as equal then how will the society see and treat our girls equal? Especially during the marriage phase, I don’t want to intimidate my daughter and make her feel that her husband’s family are so different and she have to convince them in each situation. I need to teach her what marriage is all about and how lovely it is to be getting married and taking care of the family. Naturally she going to be an endearing daughter in law.
I want her to know self-love is the best thing she can do to herself. It is the greatest love of all. To show respect to everyone and their feelings regardless of their age is a basic quality she should never give up.
With these values she will surely grow to be of strong character. What else do you think I can do differently to empower her?
A few years ago I was returning home with a friend from a party at 9:30 pm. I was wearing a simple black dress which went till my knees, high heels and carrying a blingy purse. My friend was getting late so she dropped me at an intersection about a km away from my place.
The distance was not much really, but things had started closing down for the night. I must have reached a few meters ahead when 3 men on a bike started following me. I panicked and crossed the road thinking that they will continue on their way. But they turned around and came the other way.
I frantically called my fiancé to come and pick me up. He asked me to go inside a supermarket which was thankfully open. I thank my lucky stars everyday that nothing untoward happened to me. Needless to say, I got a huge dressing down from my fiancé for being so irresponsible! In retrospect, I was wearing something that was completely out of place in an area which was surrounded by slums, which is certainly not a good idea.
In India, conservative thinkers have many “rules” which define the behavior of a “good woman”. The most frustrating among them is blaming the girl for being eve teased or even raped because she’s wearing inappropriate clothes or standing the wrong way or luring men etc.
On top of this there are some fanatics who makes statements to the media like “It was bound to happen, women wear nudity fashion. They were wearing short dresses.” or “They tried to copy the Westerners, not only in their mindset but even in their dressing. So there was some disturbance, some girls are harassed, these kinds of things do happen.” Like it’s no big deal but needless, it is our fault! What they do not understand is that eve teasing happens no matter what we wear, salwar suits, sarees or western clothes.
This has led to a huge hue and cry about women protesting that they have a right to wear what they want in public and should not be shamed because of it. Young girls, the “feminist advocates”, in turn at times protest this thinking by wearing clothes inappropriate for the time and place, just to prove a point.
A Real Look at the Misnomer of Feminism
While I am a feminist myself, there is a very fine line here which is often missed by many. Yes, one should have the right to dress the way they want. Wearing western clothes doesn’t mean that you are a woman with loose morals trying to get a man’s attention. You are certainly not giving anyone the green signal to your body.
But there is also something called as appropriate dressing which is defined by the environment you are going to be in.
When I was in the night club I would have been considered conservatively yet elegantly dressed but on the lonely streets at 9.30 pm in the night I probably looked like an escort to those men on the bike in that location. Maybe, if i was even wearing a sweater or shawl I might have been overlooked, but on that night I was probably sticking out like a red beacon.
When the time comes for me to educate my daughter about these situations I will tell her is that you are allowed to wear whatever you want. I don’t care about the “aunties” who sit and judge the length of your dress but to always always be aware of the surroundings you are going to be in before deciding on your outfit.
Feminism has become the most fashionable word in the country today. Every time any issue pops up, out comes the “F” word. I believe that women are grossly misusing this word to get things they at times don’t deserve or something that is impractical. This is because most of these women don’t really understand what it means or stands for. [bctt tweet=”“Misguided feminism” is the root cause of confusion within women on how to respond to issues.” username=”contactrwc”]
Further Misconstrued in the Household
Another misconstruction of feminist ideals made is when it comes to doing the household chores. Women, like men have demanding careers these days and hence expect that the men of the house also contribute in the daily tasks at home.
This is quite reasonable. But in most Indian households, the mothers-in-law will judge their daughters-in-law for making their “Shona Beta” (Darling Son) do housework. The feeling is that their sons are being treated like a servant.
They do not understand that the poor girl deserves some time off too. This rigid thought process in turn causes the women to rebel. They take it to the other extreme by demanding that it is the men who should do everything around the house. They lounge around thereby throwing the concept of “equality” down the drain.
I want to teach my baby that equality comes when both the man and the woman change their perspective. They need to understand and respect the fact that they are both equally busy in their respective jobs. With mutual understanding they can share the house work respectfully. There should be no rigidity that a particular task belongs to a single person only.
So, What is Feminism ?
Fighting for equality when it comes to respect, voicing your opinion, demanding equal pay, is what feminism is about.
- It is about making your own choices.
- It is about understanding your inner strength.
- It is about grace.
- It is about acceptance that women are as capable as men are with actions.
- It is also understanding that men and women cannot be equals in many ways.
Men and women and each individual has their own purpose and strength. If that is how God wanted everyone to be equal, he/she would have created a world full of only men or only women or vice versa. This is the lesson would like to teach my daughter and every young woman out there.
Do not be afraid of the misogynists that surround you. They are but a handful. The world is changing, and our country is changing too. There are male members of the society who proudly call themselves feminists (your father included).
Be a feminist, do not settle for anything less than what you deserve. Do not abuse this privilege and everything that comes with it. Being a woman is not a curse as many believe it to be, it is a blessing. Be proud of who you are and believe that you can achieve whatever you want to.
Indian culture is rich with stories sharing life lessons, morals, traditions and values. From the time immemorial, stories have been a mode of instruction to emphasize values and morals. Not only to children but also to grown-ups. Stories are part of their lives.
In ancient days, stories were mostly told by people. From being written on rocks, stones and some leaves they were carried on by mothers and grandmothers as bedtime stories. Much later they were printed on books. Today stories are made into real with the aid of animations. The conspicuous fascination for stories has still been enthusiastically growing.
The folklore and fables have been an eternal part of every culture since ages. India, a country known for its diverse religions, languages and cultures has a monumental range of tales and short stories. Indian folklore has a wide variety of historical stories and mythological legends, which emerge from all walks of life.
Two epic stories Mahabharata and Ramayana are so popular not only because of their character but also for its abundant source of life lessons and moral values. There are many interesting and famous stories that range from the remarkable Panchatantra Tales to Hitobadesh Stories, from Aesop Fables to, from Grandma Tales of life to Stories of Akbar and Birbal.
Children really enjoy reading and listening to stories. Children are fascinated by stories of animals and birds, kings and queens, fairies and adventures. And Indian stories have all of these in abundance and more.
Kids get involved to a greater extent because their imagination derives from these tales. Each story gets deep rooted in the hearts of children with value.
Children love to dream. The world of fancy and fantasy is the privilege of their childhood. And stories justify these attempts to nurture their imagination and foster moral values. Mostly every story is concluded with an appropriate moral. The stories will not only entertain the children but also inculcate the sublime virtues and worldly wisdom in them.
Panchatantra stories, Jataka Tales, Thenaliraman Tales, Vikram and Vedhal, were my son’s favorites during his childhood. We enjoyed our nights through our bedtime stories.
As a mother, I am often disappointed though nowadays, because of the disappearing love for stories. Also I feel in the digital age there is a dire lack of value based storytelling.
Really story telling is an art and story teller is an artist. When told right, a story has the power to magically inculcate children with not only morals but bring them face to face with their culture and heritage as well.
Some personal tips on developing the skill of it.
Dedicated Reading Time
You can select any convenient time for you and your kids to tell stories. Mostly I prefer night time to share Bedtime Stories. Really the story time will be a bonding time for your family.
Enact The Story
While telling the stories, you act and make music. Parents making funny voices and getting the kids involved in the process makes the stories impact stronger.
Pause At The Right time
Let the kids guess what comes next. Ask them what they would have done in the same situation. This builds thinking power.
Leave Room for Discussion
Stories of long ago or a mythology have concepts hard to understand. Encourage kids to talk, discuss, share and express. Parents should respond, encourage, listen and guide. Parents should respect kid’s feelings and thoughts. Let them ask question and even disagree with what the story says. Don’t stop reading that story to them, though. That teaches them to learn to agree to disagree.
Painting and creating art work after they hear a story will let You see what the children actually thought of the story.
Share Your Memories
Let kids into your life with the history of your family and what you thought when you first heard the story. Discuss with the kids what you thought and ask them what they think of your opinion.
Games And More
For stories of mythology and history which have complicated names, it is a good idea to create games. Give points for guessing the protagonist of a certain story is and what happened. Another amazing way is to have the kids pretend to be they are one of the characters and play a game of dumb charades with them.
Story telling is the first and foremost step to introducing kids to any new culture, and specially their own heritage. Be the story teller of your family. And don’t just limit yourself to your own culture. Choose different countries and find what their mythology or history says!
Every year as the Rakhi day (Rakshabandhan) approaches, I get wistful about tying a pretty little thread around my baby brother’s wrist. I think fondly of all those past celebrations of this Indian festival shared with my little brother.
This day holds a gentle place in the hearts of those who share it and the magic to take them flying through time to to their shared a childhood. A gesture or moment they may share or maybe pass as tradition to their own children.
When we were small (my brother 3, me 13), I would align our hands together and say,” See, how big my hand is than yours ?” He laughed as his eyes sparkled with glee.
Slowly but surely, his hand kept getting bigger. The joy he found in aligning our hands together and saying, “See, my hand is getting bigger.” became something we shared for an instant smile.
Years passed by, we separated, reunited and did it again. Now all grown up, my little brother boasted. “My hand is finally bigger than yours now.” he said proudly.
I grinned delighted.
Over the years, he grew up from being someone I led around to someone I lean on. He is my little brother. My first baby. The one whose name I take by mistake instead of my child’s often.
When we met the last time two years ago, we did it again. And then he did it to my son. “See, how much bigger my hand is than yours?” My son laughed.
And now my 6 year old does it to his 3 year old sister. Teaching her a silly practice that his mom and her brother did that connects them to this day.
[bctt tweet=”Rakhshabandhan literally translated means the The Tie That Protects. A festival of togetherness celebrating brothers and sisters.” username=”contactrwc”]
The origin of Rakhi or Rakshabandhan has various stories. From mythology to history, it goes back to powerful men and women who protected each other in dire times valiantly to honor the promise made when the thread was tied. This was a way to make sure women were respected, honored and protected at all times.
This festival that mainly constitutes a simple act of a sister tying a pretty thread on the wrist of her brothers’ wrist to celebrate their love and duty (loyalty, protection, care) towards each other. It’s heartening how over the years it has transcended into a one when people honor their relationship : the laughter, the memories, the mischief, the fights, the tears shared.
Today siblings and cousins tie it to each other, daughters to fathers, mothers to sons, friends to friends they consider siblings even. This day holds within it the promise of togetherness.
This festival thus inspires bravery and fondness among those who celebrate it. I remember when I was small we used to create our very own Rakhis and mail them from Kuwait to India to all our cousins. Today, with the very many options available online and shipping being so expensive online stores come to the rescue and we just pick our favorite designs and have them shipped to our beloved family members.
In our home, I tie it to my son and my daughter ties it to her father and brother. My husband’s sisters from India mail him their Rakhis and I decorate a Thali with flowers, sweets, diya and the Rakhis. On any occasion decorating these is my favorite thing to do.
We bathe and celebrate early morning. After prayer, the brother sits and the sister puts Tika on the forehead, does Aarti of the brother (circles the plate around the brother’s face) and then ties the Rakhi and feeds him the sweet. The brother then, irrespective of his age takes blessings of his sister for a long, prosperous and protected life!
Ideally, the brother gifts the sister whatever she wishes on this day. But as commercialization has crept in parents often gift both the brother and sister with presents to ensure they both feel celebrated! My kids love partaking in all the rituals and enjoy their gifts (read:toys) all day!
And then as any festival in India, there is a lavish meal of Indian delicacies. I usually make any meal celebrating the brother and sister with whatever dishes they most enjoy.
Happy Rakshabandhan to all those who choose to celebrate the sacred bond they share every single day in the little things they do for each other! Do share your silly stories of your siblings with us.
Don’t forget to grab your copy of International Best seller —
Strong Roots Have No Fear
Raise multicultural kids with confidence and a global mindset.