Are you pulling out the fineries,redoing or spring cleaning your home, going on a shopping spree, or making thatone big purchase as a family, that you have been waiting for all year long?Yes, these are all the indicators of the festive season arrival! Everywhere youlook or even listen, you will see a mention of it! Whether it’s theneighborhood mall, which is dressed up in lights and bright décor, every majorplayground in your city, which is lit up to celebrate the nine day Navratrafestival or the Durga puja pandals that brighten up your street – It’s hard tomiss the festive buzz! Even the newspapers these days have a festive splash,what with the different schemes and offers being conjured up by retailers andtravel companies across the country.
However, having grown up with thisfestive spirit over the years, as adults, we enjoy and appreciate the meaningof each of these cultural traditions in our lives, or we even consider thesedays to be auspicious to start some thing new, or make a purchase, but do youthink our children are just as clued on? We doubt it! In fact, you can even putit to test – ask your child what is the significance of the nine-day Navratracelebration and which deity is worshipped during this time, or why is Durgapuja celebrated or even why do we celebrate Diwali with lights? Your likelyresponses will range from it being a time to play dress up, to being a time forindulgences for the entire family!
We are not saying that childrenthese days are completely clueless; the schools and grandparents do play theirpart. However, while a child can be introduced to different festivals and evenbe given a background on why each one is celebrated, he/she will only learn totruly appreciate the festival/tradition when he/she sees his/her parentstalking about it and perhaps even celebrating it themselves.
So, why all the fuss about making aneffort to teach your child about the several festivals that India celebrates?The reasons can vary from person to person, but here are a few reasons on whyyou could start.
- Forging life-long bonds: Festivals are one time when families visit each other, go for holidays together, or even simply drop in to greet each other. It is a great time for your child to meet his cousins, grandparents and other family relatives, who otherwise may live far away. Meeting like this, will help your child bond better with the family over the long run as they grow up, just like you have with your family.
- Better understanding of the Indian culture: Celebrating festivals is a great way to teach your child about the Indian culture. Knowing more about why a festival is celebrated, what its significance is, and why did we start celebrating it in the first place, can help a child understand the importance and significance of each festival, and it can be a great way to impart values to the child as well.
- Tolerance for tradition: Remember how you tugged on your mom sleeve through the Diwali puja to let you go out and celebrate the real way – burst crackers with your friends and neighbors that is? But do you see yourself, following those very same rituals without skipping a beat now? Why do you think that is! Explaining the importance of each ritual and how it welcomes good fortune for the entire family, may not register with him/her just yet, but over the long run, once he/she is an adult, these are the very same rituals he/she will follow, thanks to you taking the time out to explain their significance (and it won’t be because you said it should be done)
So, how can you teach your childabout the importance of these festivals and not make it seem like an extraclass that he has to attend besides his school. Here are some fun tips to getyou started this festive season:
- Make a game out of it: Make the festivities hard to get! Create a mock contest that your child has to win, in order to get his/her precious crackers, or the dandiya sticks for example. Pose questions and urge him/her to read up and be prepared on the eve of Diwali/Navratri night. This not only infuses fun in the learning process, but also helps him/her value the celebration that much more!
- Play dress up: Get fun costumes for your child to wear for different occasions, traditional outfits for the Navratras, a Ravan mask for Dusshera, etc. This way he/she gets the opportunity to play around with the props and it becomes easier for him/her to understand the reason behind Ravan’s ten heads or why people play Dandiya during navratras.
- Festive Project: Involve your child in the home decoration process this festive season. Involve him/her right from the diya selection, to the rangoli decoration, to making the special festive food. Even if you don’t indulge in decorating the house yourself, make it a project for your children, they will not only enjoy decorating the house, but will also proudly show it off to family that comes to visit you.
- Dinner table conversations: Make festival or occasions a dinner table conversation as the date approaches, this shows your child, that you think it’s important, and he/she will automatically start showing interest in learning more about the festival/occasion
While you may already be celebratingthe festival in your own special way, the whole idea is to make a concertedeffort with your child, to teach him/her the traditions and values that you asa family hold dear, and hope that these values will be passed on to the nextgeneration, just as they were passed on to you from your parents and grandparents.In the end, make it fun, and make it festive! After all isn’t that what thesefestivals are for? We would love to know your special plans to get yourchildren enthused this festive season.