Hey there, fellow parents! Are you tired of seeing your little ones struggle with self-doubt and insecurities? Want to raise confident, happy children who love themselves (and their flaws!) just the way they are? Well, you’ve come to the right place![Read more…]
Navratri: One Festival, Many Traditions
Navratri is a 9-day Hindu festival celebrated across the length and breadth of India in the months of September & October. This year, the festival falls between 21st September and 29 September. Navratri is the celebration of good over evil and is celebrated differently in different parts of the country.
Eastern & Northeastern India: Here, Navratri is celebrated in the form of Durga Puja. Goddess Durga who fights the buffalo demon, Mahishasura, and restores Dharma or right way of living or simply, the good in the universe, is venerated and prayed to for 10 days. Predominantly celebrated in West Bengal, Durga Puja includes putting up stage decorations/pandals which house beautiful clay idols of Goddess Durga. People gather at these pandals and worship the goddess, perform rites and recite chants & sing bhajans. One of the eye-catching traditions is what they call Dhunaachi Naach. Aarti or puja is performed using an incense burner called dhoop and sometimes men and women hold one or more than one dhoop and dance with them to the beats of a dhak (a kind of drum played in these parts of the country)
Go Green and Back to your Roots this Ganapathi!
While world leaders meet every year to discuss climate change and about how they can run their countries by causing least harm to the environment, why not we do our bit? Let’s start with one of the most awaited festivals of the year, Ganesh Chaturthi! The festival is just round the corner and while you, your friends and family prepare to welcome him to your homes, here are some tips for an eco-friendly Ganesh Chaturthi!
Begin with Ganesha himself: At the end of the festival, many rivers, lakes and even seas get clogged with plaster of paris (pop) Ganeshas. This chemical is toxic for fish and other living organisms under water. Whereas, Ganeshas made of clay or mud dissolve easily in the water and don’t leave behind any chemical waste. If you want to give him some colour, use water based paints or water colours. When you immerse your eco-friendly Ganesha, you will do so knowing that you are keeping alive creatures under water!
Ladoos and Modaks: It is that time of the year, when you can give a break to chocolates and sweets from shops and try some home-made ladoos and Ganesha’s favourite Modak. Besan and Rava ladoos are sweets which no chocolate can match ! Just like your momos, Modaks are steamed dumplings but instead of vegetables, they will be stuffed with jaggery and grated coconut-It is Ganesha’s favourite for a reason! [Read more…]
Happy Independence Day!
Independence Day is celebrated every year on 15th August. This was the day when India was freed from the British Rule. It is a national festival and has equal importance for every Indian regardless of religion, class, creed or race. The way of celebration is also the same throughout the country and that is the day when you will find whole India celebrating and rejoicing. Many cultural programs are organized and children love to watch them and participate in them.
Different types of celebrations on Independence Day
Children have a different perspective. They like this day because they get sweets and holiday after flag hoisting in their schools. The National Flag is hoisted by the Prime Minister of India on the ramparts of the Red Fort, Delhi after which his speech is followed. Other politicians hoist the flag in their constituencies. Not only this, private organizations celebrate & declare holiday on Independence Day. Everywhere there is a scene of joy, pride and rejoice. No rituals but only festivities are to be seen.
Some people fly kites to express their feeling for the freedom that we have received from the British Rule. You can see hundreds of colourful kites in the sky that day and some of them in the colour of the National Flag. Some people and celebrities leave balloons of saffron, white and green colours, the colours of the Indian Tricolour, in the air.
Reading is the fun way to go!
Imagine waking up to a world without the internet, which for some inexplicable reason has ceased to exist forever. For most of us, a life without Google, YouTube, and Facebook is a scenario nightmares are made of.
Those of us who grew up reading books (and those who have taken up reading recently) would probably raise our collective eyebrows one eighth of an inch, yawn politely and pick up the juicy crime thriller we had been reading before the ‘calamity’ took the surfing millions by surprise and sent them into a state of deep shock and utter disbelief! However, the book lovers would be more interested to find out who really committed the crime in the whodunit we just mentioned: was it the butler or was it the hollywood star staying at the Haveli as the Maharajah’s personal guest!
The world is divided into two groups: Book lovers, and those who regard the activity as one that requires infinite amount of patience to wade through tonnes of the written word– one solitary page at a time. For book lovers, however, it was books that kept them out of mischief in childhood, it was books that provided them with a window to the world in college, and it was books that kept them entertained when they started fending for themselves. [Read more…]
Republic Day: Celebrating the Constitution of India
The story of India’s independence from the British rule is a story without precedence that demonstrated to the world that adopting a strategy of nonviolence and civil disobedience could prove to be a potent force capable of bringing a mighty empire to its knees.
The newly-gained freedom brought with it its own set of challenges: namely, dealing with the aftermath of the partition of the country, persuading the principalities to join the Union, and unifying diverse groups under a common theme—the idea that we are one nation and one people.
We also needed to frame a constitution based on modern ideas that was capable of delivering justice to all citizens regardless of caste, creed, language, ethnicity or religion as a matter of priority. Our laws until then were based on the modified colonial Government of India Act 1935.
However, our leaders rose to the occasion: A drafting committee was duly appointed to draft a permanent constitution, with Dr B R Ambedkar as chairman. 26 January, 1950 is the day on which India formally adopted the Constitution and is celebrated as Republic Day. [Read more…]
The Diverse Harvest Festivals in India – a closer look
The Diverse Harvest Festivals in India – a closer look
With the harvest festivals like Makar Sankranti, Bihu, Lohri and Pongal right around the corner, we are all excited to see what this harvest season has in store for us. We were taught that these harvest festivals are one of the most fun-filled but equally important festivals for the farmers across India.
Therefore, it is our duty to educate our kids about these harvest festivals and their significance in India. This will be a fun-filled opportunity for them to see how these festivals are celebrated and why they are important.
Here are some ways that people celebrate these harvest festivals across India:
Pongal O Pongal!
Pongal is one of the most celebrated festivals in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is a 4 day long festival during the season when rice, turmeric, sugar-cane and other cereals are harvested. Typically, the celebrations consists of boiling rice in an earthen pot and making a sweet dish out of it, in the process allowing the rice to boil out of the pot while the people shout ‘Pongal O Pongal’.
The word Pongal means ‘to boil’ in Tamil. The first day is celebrated as Bhogi where useless house articles are thrown in the pyre and burnt.
The second day is when the rice is boiled in a pot outside of the house accompanied by sugarcane and other sweets for consumption. [Read more…]
Surya Namaskar for a healthy and happy life
Technology has played an important role in raising income levels substantially in India and the rest of the world. But it has also brought with it a new set of challenges.
Economic prosperity is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it helps us to fight diseases better, it generates better incomes, and it provides access to better education. On the other, [Read more…]
Introducing Your Child to Karma Yoga and the Concept of Nishkama Karma
Introducing Your Child to Karma Yoga and the Concept of Nishkama Karma:
By Jayaram Rajaram
This post is for the parent only and must be used to guide children so they lead contented, healthy and happy lives.
The Bhagavad Gita has inspired millions of people for thousands of years and its teachings are timeless and relevant even today. A primary teaching by Lord Krishna to Arjuna on the battle field is the importance of Karma Yoga and Nishkama Karma. The meaning of Nishkama Karma is to do ones duty without worrying about the results. Arjuna (Representing the Pandavas) had to fight the Kauravas who were his own cousins. While he felt emotional, Krishna who was Arjuna’s charioteer cleared his doubts by saying, fighting bad people had to be done to protect good people. So, Arjuna felt relieved that fighting was his duty at that point and he had to do it to protect Dharma or righteousness.
Now several children are committing suicide because they do not get good marks. This is very sad and parents and teachers are sometimes largely to blame for this sad state of affairs. As parents it is our duty to tell our children that it is their duty to study to learn. We have to reassure them that no matter what the outcome or results are, we will love our children. Whenever children study, emphasize the importance of learning rather than focussing on the outcome. If the child is merely by hearting things, step in and help him/ her understand concepts logically wherever possible.
Similarly ask your children what problem in the world they wish to solve when they grow up? Two or three generations have been spoilt and have become unhappy because they have been asked what they want to become and the narrative has been ambition based rather than duty based. Ambition and desire are the root causes of unhappiness as per Sanatana Dharma. Many people believe lack of ambition is laziness. Nishkama Karma and Karma Yoga is all about action for the benefit and well-being of the world (All benefit that comes to an individual is merely a by-product of action that is done without hankering after rewards and recognition). Today even many doctors and hospitals focus more on how much they can earn rather than patient care. At least the next generation should start focusing on how they can help others by acting in the right way and spirit.
Tell children that duty for the sake of duty, no matter what job they take up, will keep them happy. Giving everything in life their best shot and not worrying about the outcome is the best way to nurture a stable, happy, peaceful and contented future generation.
This is a tough task, but this is must be the highest priority among parents if we are not to repeat the mistakes made by the west. Modern examples of Karma Yogis are Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam and E Sreedharan (Delhi Metro).
You could ask your children the following questions:
What problem will you solve when you grow up?
If your child is younger, just ask them what they will do when they grow up and accept all answers while guiding them without putting too much emphasis on duty as their level of understanding may be limited till the age of 8. But use the word duty when they mess a room and make them put back their toys after they play etc.
Who will the work you do when you grow up help?
What is your duty as a kid?
Answer to this should be: Learn to the best of your ability (and don’t worry about marks), Be Good, Do Good, Be Happy
Do you know who the greatest and best people are?
Allow your child to answer and then emphasize that the best and greatest people in the world are those who help others by doing their duties wholeheartedly. So explain that even their grandmother / great grandmother are great for their selfless service to their families even if they never worked outside the home (This will remove money from the equation and recognize service and duty as something that is recognized and important). This way as parents we have to get it into the child’s subconscious that duty-bound action is better than ambition-based action and people with big bank balances, famous people and actors aren’t the real role models, unless of course they are good people who help others (Then they are worth emulating, provided they have all-round values worth emulating). Basically this will help your child treat everyone equally and understand that duties and rights are two sides of the same coin while slowly realizing that making money and becoming famous as a by-product is better than gunning only for riches and fame at any cost. They will also start understanding that an entitlement mindset* and fighting for rights without doing their duty is a sure-shot way to self-destruction and unhappiness.
*Children who grow up thinking the whole world owes it to them have very difficult lives.
Note: This has to be done carefully, as we should not paint a picture that money and rich people are bad, because this is not true at all. Nishkama Karma is about doing your duty well and not hankering after rewards. If you are an IT professional, by virtue of being in a job one must give it his / her 100% during office hours, go back home and play the role of a father/mother, husband/wife 100%. If a person is an entrepreneur he/she must work towards solving their customers’ problems and helping their employees and shareholders improve their lives (As a byproduct of this dedication to his / her duty the entrepreneur’s life improves, but that should not be the primary goal if one wants contentment and peace of mind). So Nishkama Karma and Karma Yoga is a shift in attitude and thought process which will definitely help anyone no matter what their background, ethnicity, nationality is, live a more balanced, happy, healthy, peaceful and fulfilled life.
Bring in the importance of dignity of labour by asking them to thank the bus driver / auto driver / maid for the service and help they render.
Build on this and as a parent keep course correcting based on the situation so your child knows what is expected of him / her.
Most importantly start practicing Karma Yoga and live the Nishkama Karma philosophy yourself (It is a liberating experience and definitely worth the effort). Also, our kids learn by watching us, so we have no choice but to live the life we want our children to learn and emulate!
Image Credits: www.blog.onlineprasad.com
Kindness, Love and Humility Always Beat Pride and Arrogance
Kindness and Humility Always Beat Pride and Arrogance
By Jayaram Rajaram
Narrate the following story to your child:
Kubera, the God of wealth went to to Lord Shiva and Parvati in Mt Kailash to show off his wealth to them. He invited Shiva and Parvati for a meal so he could show off all that he had. Since Shiva and Parvati were busy, they offered to send Ganesha for the meal. Shiva warned Kubera that Ganesha ate a lot. But Kubera haughtily and in an arrogant tone said “Let him eat as much as he wants!”.
When Ganesha started eating, he ate and ate and ate till he ate up all the food. He then ate the furniture and Kubera’s palace and was still hungry. Kubera realized his foolishness and ran to Shiva and begged for his forgiveness. Kubera promised never to be so haughty and arrogant again. Pleased with Kubera’s realization, Shiva gave him a fistful of rice and asked him to give it to Ganesha. When Kubera gavve Ganesha the fistful of rice with love and humility Ganesha was satisfied and returned all his wealth to Kubera.
Ask your child: Are people important or things/toys?
If your child says “Toys”, ask him /her “Who gives you the toys?”
Your child will invariably say people. Then ask again -“So are people important or toys?”
Ask your child: Is showing off good?
Do your friends show off?
Do you like it when they show off?
You show off too sometimes.
Will Umachi / Bhagwan (God) like it if you show off?
Do you want to make the same mistake Kubera made?
What will happen if you show off?
Always share with your friends and be kind, or like Kubera you will lose friends and all your good things/toys.
Tell them: If you do good, you get good. If you do bad, you get bad. This is the rule of the universe and it is called Karma! Ask your child to repeat after you.
Image Credits: www.enjoyfestivals.com