Archive for the ‘education’ Category
We’re celebrating World Water Day by focusing on India’s rivers. Check out this cute-and-catchy song by Karadi Tales that will have your kids singing 9 major rivers of India in no time:
Do note, the Sindhu is also called the “Indus” (and although it appears to be mainly running through Pakistan, it does flow through the northern tip of India). Also, the Saraswati is not pictured on the map. It’s such an important river to our culture, so where is it? Well, experts say that this ancient Vedic river actually dried up about 4,000 years ago. It used to run through present-day Indian states of Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Gujarat.
Fun Fact! Just this past Monday, 2 judges in Uttarakhand ruled that the Ganga and the Yamuna actually have legal rights! That means, in the eyes of the law, these 2 rivers are now to be treated the same as a human person! The judges appointed 3 people to act as guardians of the rivers. So Ganga and Yamuna can now demand that other people take care of them and not pollute them! More here…
Suno! Suno! Parents and teachers: Our A is for Anaar Teacher’s Guide is now available! This 7-page Guide is rich with supplementary information to enhance your A is for Anaar reading experience – complete with Reading Tips, Fun Facts about Hindi, About India, Discussion Questions and more!
Click on the image above, or download here…
A story I read after the Women’s March struck me and inspired this post. It was a story about a Muslim woman in a restaurant near the Washington, DC area who was antagonistically approached by a man. The man fired “questions” at her about her hijab and her faith. The striking thing about this story is that there was a group of women at a nearby table, presumably fresh from the Women’s March as some were donning pussy hats, who observed what was going on – but remained silent.
So what was the point of the March? [Note: I fully support the March.]
This got me thinking about my own behaviours, and I came up with a list of 7 Calls to Action for myself – ways to model my behaviour. I share these with you today:
1. Speak Up. If you see someone being harassed or intimidated, don’t be a silent bystander. Speak up. The best way to do this is not to confront the bully, but to focus on the victim. In the restaurant scenario described above, the nearby women could have, perhaps, approached the Muslim woman and started to engage her in conversation – this would have effectively taken her adversary out of the equation. Also, don’t feel shy about voicing your perspective. I was once at a birthday party at which a parent was lamenting about too much Spanish being spoken in their local public school, and other parents in our conversation circle were nodding in agreement. I could have remained silent, but instead I piped in with a short, “I’d love my kids to learn more Spanish.” Sometimes, I feel, it helps to let it be known that not everyone in a group feels the same way.
2. Read. The best thing you can do for yourself and your children in our current environment is to READ. For yourself, read about history, perspectives, science – whatever interests you. Read books with your children about historical figures, injustices of the past, and stories of courage. Arm your family with knowledge so they have the power to handle themselves and to speak up for others.
3. Speak Your Language. As a follow-up to #1 above, don’t be afraid to speak your native language in public. Now is the time, more than ever, to demonstrate the diversity of the United States. A while back, at a dropoff for a class, a fellow mom (she was white) noticed I was speaking [Telugu] to my daughter and came up to me to say how she thought it was wonderful that I maintained my culture. People notice.
4. Wear Your Sari. Or your salwar, turban, bindi or other cultural attire or mark – at least more than twice a year. It’s easier to accept diversity when it’s seen. You are also modeling positive cultural practices for your children.
5. 20 Minutes a Day. In this politically charged climate, I struggle to restrain myself. As a politically-active attorney, it’s very difficult for me not to be consumed about the news. In times like these, I have to remind myself about dharma – right action – and that right now, it would be wrong of me to neglect my kids and my family. So I promised myself that I would limit my “political work” to 20 minutes a day. These 20 minutes are enough to call/message/write to Senators or Representatives, educate myself on certain calls to action, or to do a quick social media post. Conversely, if being politically active is new to you, now is a good time to put your Senators’ and Representative’s phone numbers in your contacts list and to make some calls.
6. Say Hello. It’s important to maintain civility and to promote friendliness at times like these. A simple friendly “hello” can open windows to perspective.
7. Smile. Because in the end, the light of truth will (eventually) prevail over darkness.
Image: “Rise above it” Fine Art Print by Amanda Cass. Available here…
Kids: Let’s get down to business today. Can you name the 4 Vedas? The names of the 4 Vedas are definitely something you should know if Hinduism is a part of your life.
The Vedas are the most sacred scriptures of Hinduism. It is believed that they originated from Lord Brahma himself. They contain knowledge and insight by ancient sages as to many deep philosophical questions – such as Who are we? and Why are we here? – that humans have been wondering since the dawn of mankind.
No one knows exactly how old the Vedas are. For many, many years the Vedas existed as shruti (oral literature) – so they were passed down orally. Experts believe that, starting with the Rig Veda, the Vedas began to be written down (in Sanskrit) by about 1200 BCE – making the Rig Veda one of the oldest texts in any Indo-European language!
There is a lot to learn about the Vedas, but today we’ll just focus on knowing the names of the 4 Vedas and being able to describe a little about each of the Vedas.
1. Rig Veda
The oldest of the Vedas, the Rig Veda is a Veda of praise. It contains several hymns that praise a number of Hindu gods. The all-important Gayatri Mantra is in the Rig Veda.
2. Sama Veda
Think of the Sama Veda as a partner of the Rig Veda: It is simply a collection of samans (chants). These chants are derived from a part of the Rig Veda. The Sama Veda contains strict instructions for priests as to how each chant is to be sung, with very detailed guides for pronunciation and sound of each word!
3. Yajur Veda
While the Sama Veda focuses on chants, the Yajur Veda focuses on rituals. It offers formulas to be said by a priest while a person is performing a ritual action before yagna (sacred fire).
4. Atharva Veda
The Atharva Veda is different from the other 3 Vedas. Its language is simpler, and its verses touch upon more diverse subjects. The Atharva Veda also contains knowledge on medicines. In fact, it is one of the first texts to record uses of antibiotics!
Ready to quiz yourself?
It just doesn’t seem fair – toxic Holi colors, pollution of water bodies from too many Ganesh Visarjans, and now this: dangerous levels of air pollution due to too many firecrackers.
It’s no joke. We’re talking Particulate Matter (coarse particles) at over 1,600 micrograms per cubic meter – that’s 16x the safe level of 100 micrograms.
Above is a picture taken in Delhi this past Monday morning.
What’s the solution? See if your kids can come up with some ideas – it’s a interesting “thinking” question.
If you casually tell your kids that it’s illegal to kill cows in India, you’re (sort of) correct. In fact, most educated Westerners are at least vaguely familiar with the connection between Hinduism and cows – it’s even made its way into most school textbooks.
The politics of cows in India, however, is anything but a stable situation. For one thing, there is no federal ban on cow-killing; rather, this issue is left to the individual states. Legally, there are 3 issues related to cows: killing, consumption of beef, and possession of beef. Some states may ban killing, but allow consumption and/or possession.
The paradoxes of secular laws in a nation of 80%+ Hindus, traditional vs. progressive values, and individual rights vs. common values all add to the quagmire.
Oh, and then there is the illegal cow smuggling across the West Bengal – Bangladesh border.
What an interesting issue to discuss…
Here are some interesting articles to read:
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:
For families short on time, India-themed board games are a sneaky way to incorporate culture during off-school hours. Here are a few of our picks of games available in the USA for your next Family Game Night. Stay tuned on Wednesday for some terrific games available in India.
1. Jaipur (pictured above – click on picture for purchase link)
A fast-paced strategy game where players vie to become the Maharaja’s offical merchant.
2. Discover India Geography Board Game
Kids learn more about India’s states and territories as they move around the game board. This games is not updated to include the recent division of Andhra Pradesh, but it’s still a solid game.
3. Ticket to Ride India
This is an expansion to the popular Ticket to Ride series (you will need to also purchase the original Ticket to Ride in order to play). Players transport themselves to 1911 during the British Raj and try to complete Grand Tour of India.
4. India Rails
Another train-themed game which is a little heavier geography-based than Ticket to Ride.
5. Ancient Indian Board Games
This is a DIY printable pack of 4 games that were played in Ancient India: Moksha Patamu, Pachisi, Chaturaji, and Ashtapada.
Bollywood buffs: test your knowledge with this family-fun trivia game!
7. Sail to India
If you can look beyond the colonial imperialist premise of this game, it is a good strategy game for older kids.
Every Indian should know the meaning of Vande Mataram – the National Song of India. Replete with patriotic fervor, Vande Mataram was the national cry for freedom from British rule.
Written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in 1876, here it is with English subtitles:
Happy Independence Day to India!
For parents of 1st – 4th graders: could your kids use an extra boost in mastering math fluency? Check out Reflex Math – an online platform that has engaging games and (more importantly) gives parents feedback on which facts need to be practiced.
This is a comprehensive program – covering addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The programs incentivizes kids to practice at least 20 minutes, three times a week…until math becomes like a “reflex.”