Many of us like the festive season and enjoy the rituals attached to them. Some others like the idea of getting holidays because of festivals and they enjoy the break from their daily schedule. Our kids also enjoy the festive season and look forward to break from school and studies.
Having grown up with this festive spirit over the years, we adults enjoy and appreciate the meaning of each of these cultural traditions in our lives, or we even consider these days to be auspicious to begin something new, or make a purchase, but do you think children these days really know and understand the significance of festivals and traditions? In fact, one can even put it to test – ask your child what is the significance of the nine-day Navratri celebration and which deity is worshipped during this time, or why is Durga puja celebrated or even why do we celebrate Diwali with lights? Likely responses will range from it being a time to play dress up, to being a time for indulgences for the entire family!
Why should we make an effort to teach our child about the several festivals that India celebrates? The reasons can vary from person to person, but here are a few reasons on why one could start.
- Fostering 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 the 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.
- 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 we started 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: 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 the child becomes 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 child about the importance of these festivals and not make it seem like an extra class that he has to attend besides his school? Here are some fun tips to get you started during the 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 Navratri, 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 navratri.
- Festive Project: Involve your child in the home decoration process. 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 celebrating the festival in your own special way, the whole idea is to make a concerted effort with your child, to teach him/her the traditions and values that you as a family hold dear, and hope that these values will be passed on to the next generation, 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 these festivals are for? Let’s together with our family spend Holidays as Holy-Days!