Archive for October, 2016
Wishing our readers a Happy Deepavali! We hope you have a few days of peace, light, and family memories…
Our Indian Diwali is quite a spectacle for the eyes and the senses – it’s glittery and sparkly with sumptuous feasts, exhilarating firecrackers, and joyous prayers. We Indians celebrate it with quite the pomp and royal circumstance.
What has struck me over the years is that Diwali, as celebrated by the South Asian Diaspora, is most definitely a holiday for The Haves. Perhaps this is a fault of the failure of our collective ethos to emphasize service or giving – which other organized faiths certainly do. I don’t hear of Hindu temples organizing food or donation drives, or of individuals who make a regular practice of giving to charity on Diwali.
This year, I’m taking a pledge with my family to change that – and I urge you all to join me. A pledge of giving and a pledge of service. As my kids are getting older, I am proud to say that they are realizing they are very, very fortunate and that they have all that they need. And they are ready – really, mentally ready, to start giving to others.
Their interests lie mainly in helping other kids, so that is exactly what we are focusing on for now. And we are starting small this year: volunteering at our local Ronald McDonald House and also donating clothes and toys to kids in India.
We are making this a Diwali for The Have Nots…
If you are so inspired, here are some helpful links:
Ronald McDonald House: Kids as young as 5 can participate in the McBaker’s Program – to bake yummy treats to cheer up families and kids who are at RMHC. Check your local RMHC chapter
Volunteer Match: Search for volunteer opportunities based on zip code, interest category, and date. This is a terrific website: www.volunteermatch.org
Desi Clothes for India: Here’s your chance to donate all those fancy, outgrown Indian clothes so they can actually be used in India: Desi Donations
Hidaya Foundation: Hidaya gathers donations and send them by the container load over to Pakistan. You can drop off donation boxes (clothes, shoes, bedding, toys, etc.) locally in San Jose, or you can mail boxes to them from other US States. See www.hidaya.org
Can you guess where?
Not in India, but just across the ocean in Singapore. Decorated with flowers, rangoli, and diyas, the Deepavali train is an initiative of Singapore’s Minister for Transport and the country’s Land Transport Authority. Two platforms in the country’s Little India are also decorated. Note that Tamil is one of Singapore’s official languages.
The train is a bit of a consolation to Singaporeans who celebrate Diwali: firecrackers and the sort are strictly forbidden.
But at least now they have a train!
It’s hard to even turn on the TV these days – the news has officially become inappropriate to watch with young kids.
Time to switch to Plan B: using news-watching time to explain the US election process to the kids. Do your kids know who their senators and representatives are? Or how the electoral college process works?
Here are some resources you can use to educate kids about what all the adults are in a frenzy over (geared toward grades 3-6):
Both are very comprehensive, and you can pick and choose what to focus on.
Or, if you only have 2 minutes, you can watch this with the kids:
This year, we need to trust and believe that Good will prevail over Evil.
With all the Evil going on in the world right now – around the world and in the US elections, it is easy to lose heart and hope.
In all honesty, this Indian holiday season hasn’t felt like much of a “celebration” so far (at least for me) – but rather it has been a more slow, somber unfurling of Hope.
Hope that as Hindus celebrate the triumph of Good over Evil this October, that somehow through our jubilations, we can remind the world that eventually Good WILL win over Evil.
As we were discussing the meaning of Navratri, Dussehra, and Deepavali yesterday, my son innocently asked me, “Mommy, has anything evil ever won in this world?”
It was a hard question to answer. In my parental myopia, I answered, “No, eventually, Good has always prevailed. It may not have been right away at the immediate moment, but somehow, at some time, Evil has always been put to rest.”
Perhaps that’s not entirely true, but it is the karmic Hindu Hope that we can offer the world this holiday season.
artwork by Mrinal Dutt, available for purchase here…
If you’re a parent and haven’t heard of Kitaab World yet, grab a cup of chai and start browsing!
Founded by Gauri Manglik and Sadaf Siddique, Kitaab World offers a curated selection of books touching upon all areas of South Asian culture: language(s), history, holidays, folktales, inspirational stories, and more. From books about the Indian flag to Kasturba Gandhi, you’ll want your kids to read them all.
Not to mention that Kitaab Work is a Gnaana stockist!
If you are in the San Francisco area, check out Kitaab World at the following events (see their Facebook Page fore details):
KitaabWorld popup booth at Passport to India
Sat 2 PM · Facebook Farmers Market · Menlo Park
KitaabWorld booth at Bay Area Diwali Festival
Sat 10 AM · Cupertino Memorial Park · Cupertino