No matter which part of India you are in, it’s hard to ignore the festive spirit this season brings in! With numerous mini-festivals and religious events lined up during the period between Dassera and Diwali, there is no dearth of celebrations of all kinds. Be it musical or cultural events, or the shopping frenzy and lightning Diwali sales put on by all retailers, off-line or online, extended Dusshera-Diwali vacations for kids, holiday cheer is everywhere!
While lighting Diyas and fire crackers, gorging on sweets and treats is fun, there’s more to the festivals than just the merrymaking, and how do we get our children to realize the importance of the same? We found a delightful series that does just that, And what’s more, it’s presented in a format that combines the power of story-telling with rich imagery to engage and educate our kids on Indian tradition and values. Here comes the “Amma, tell me” series by Bhakti Mathur and illustrations by Maulshree Somani brought out by Hong Kong based Anjana publications.
Comprising a series of picture books on Indian festivals and Indian mythology for children between the age group of 3 to 9 years, these books are a great way to enlighten the kids on the stories and sentiments behind the observance and celebrations of our festivals. Besides many titles on festivals such as “Amma, tell me about Holi” or “Amma, tell me about Ganesha” or the series on Mythology such as “Amma, tell me about Ramayan”, this vibrantly illustrated series also presents interesting tales from the Hindu epics in a trilogy format such as the trilogy series on Krishna and Hanuman.
For this festive season, however, we picked out “Amma, tell me about Diwali!” which believe me, will have you and your little one feeling festive on the first reading itself! As with most titles in the series, it starts off with the little boy named Klaka excitedly waking up to a typical Diwali morning characterized by new clothes and gifts followed by the lighting of Diyas, fire crackers in the evening, and the family offering prayers to God for good fortune, prosperity and health. As the children wonder about the story behind the celebrations, whom do they approach? Amma…of course, who at bedtime regales them with stories that explain the significance of the festival of lights. While elaborating on the meaning of Diwali, Amma in the story also delves into the multiple dimensions to festivities that includes remembering Lord Rama and his triumphant return to Ayodhya on Diwali day, while also encapsulating a brief account of Ramayana. Of course, Diwali is not only all dazzle and fun, and children are subtly reminded of the value of honesty, hard work and dedication through the story of Goddess Lakshmi and the poor seamstress. The beauty of this book lies not only in free-flowing narrative and engagingly rhyming text, but also in the simple message that the author attempts to convey to today’s kids brought up in a consumerist world that we live in.