Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

A Diwali Birthday
Author: Aruna

What do you do when your daughter’s birthday falls on Diwali?  You throw her a Diwali Birthday Bash of course!

My little firecracker turned 2 on November 5th – the actual main Diwali day – which probably won’t happen for another 20 years.  So we decked our house with lights and garlands, ordered a traditional Indian feast and had a grand evening with our family and friends.

Since there are no “Diwali Birthdays-in-a-Box,” I got crafty and handmade most of the decorations, including the party hats (pictured above).  I used a selection of festive, whimsical papers from Paper Source and craft stores – the theme being blue (my daughter’s favourite colour) with accents of red, gold and silver.

We started the day with a Lakshmi/Ganesh puja performed by my 4-year-old (using the Gnaana Puja Tutorial, of course!) and grandparents.

Made these pinwheel garlands using a tutorial from Ally Scraps – a modification of the origami garlands we used last year.

Took advantage of early inventory of Christmas decorations – hung glitter balls from the ceiling using ribbon.

For our guests:  hand-decorated sweet boxes for the adults (decorated using vellum paper, ribbon, a large circle craft punch and a rangoli-inspired stamp) and coordinating polka-dot gift bags for the kids.

Set-up a kids table lined with kraft paper and with colouring pages and play-do.

For food, we had papdi chaat, vegetable biryani, mango dhal, eggplant-pakora curry, veg korma, etc., etc., with all the mandatory naans, chutneys and pickles, and a selection of sweets and chocolates.  We had a table stacked with dandiya and played a mix of Indian and kids’ music (yes, you really can dandiya to On Top Of My Pizza).

As darkness fell, the luminaries we set-up around our pool and our front yard really dazzled.

We ended the evening with the requisite sparklers and small firecrackers, as the Birthday Girl relaxed with delight.

And here are a few pictures of my darlings, taken earlier in the day by the talented Katrina Jayne.  If you’re in Southern California, she’s terrific to work with!

image © 2010 Katrina Jayne

image © 2010 Katrina Jayne

image © 2010 Katrina Jayne

Hats Off For Hanuman
Author: Gnaana

Hanuman, simply put, is remarkable.  I think he’s the reason kids love the Ramayana so much.  He has tremendous strength and powers, darts through the sky, moves mountains with a single hand, and carries Rama and Sita in his heart.  But underneath it all he’s still a monkey – what a superhero!

Finally we have a book for toddlers (or any age really) that centers around Hanuman.  Where’s Hanuman is a seek-and-find book put out by Torchlight Publishing.  We featured it in our March Newsletter, but the awesome-ness of this book is so great that we had to write about it on our blog as well.  And check out the book’s official website:

So hat’s off to you, Hanuman, for rousing the superhero in all of us.  And yes, we know most of India (except Tamil Nadu and Kerala) celebrates your birthday today – so janamdin ki badhai.

Happy Birthday Rama
Author: Gnaana

Kinda wierd to say Happy Birthday to a God, but that’s what we’re doing today:  saying Happy Birthday to Lord Rama.  Ram Navami is big deal for Hindus around the world – sort of feels like Christmas in March.  It’s a commemoration of the Ideal Man after all – the protagonist of the epic Ramayana.

So how are we celebrating?  We’re digging into Sanjay Patel’s just-released Ramayana: Divine Loophole.  (If you don’t know already, Patel is an animator for Pixar and has previously published the uber-cute The Little Book of Hindu Deities).  At 186 pages, it’s a bit beyond a toddler’s attention span – but the visuals are so stunning, you can narrate the Ramayana in brief to your kids just by flipping through the pictures.

Thank you, Mr. Patel, for giving parents a phenomenal way to present the Ramayana to kids.

Happy Birthday, Baby
Author: Gnaana

We try not to have our writers make this blog too personal of a space. But my baby – yes the little girl in the suitcase on our main Blog page – turned 1 a few weeks ago, and it got me thinking about First Birthday celebrations.  I remember attending my nephews’ (twins) first birthday party while I was living in Bangalore – a grand affair with upwards of 400 guests and a spectacular array of food!  These mini-wedding-style first birthday celebrations are the norm in the Indian culture.  Of course, a child’s first birthday IS a big deal – but I wondered how other cultures celebrate the occasion.  Here’s what I found:

Korea:  Koreans perform a Toljabee ceremony on a child’s first birthday of Dol (Tol).  Babies wear a specail hanbok (traditional Korean dress) and several items are placed before them – such as a string or thread (for long life), books, pencils, money and uncooked rice.  The type and order in which the child selects the items is said to give a clue to the child’s personality and future – very similar to the “destiny pick” we perform in the Telugu culture during the child’s Annaprasana (first solid feeding).

China:  Alough in China (as well as Japan and many other Asian cultures), everybody turns a year older on the New Year, many Chinese perform a ceremony similar to the Korean one.  The child is laid on the floor surrounded by many objects:  coins (wealth), a doll (many children), kitchen utensils, books, etc., and the child’s selection is said to illuminate his or her future.  A meal of special long noodels (longevity for the child) is served, and gifts of money are given in red envelopes.

Japan:  Some Japanese have the custom of isho mochi – where the baby carries a rice cake (mochi) weighing 1 sho (also a homophone for issho  – meaning “whole lifetime”) on its back – symbolizing the parents’ hope that the child will never go hungry in its lifetime.  Some Japanese also perform the “destiny pick.”

Ukraine:  Ukranian babies often have their hair cut for the first time on their first birthday. Godparents snip hair from each of 4 parts of the head (front, back and sides) – symbolizing the 4 directions of the world.

Hawaii & Polynesia:  A baby’s first birthday is commemorated with a huge luau – complete with a pig roast feast and music.

France:  The French typically do not throw baby showers for expectant mothers (although now it is becoming more common).  This was partly due to superstition.  Instead, friends and loved ones waited until the child’s first birthday to give gifts to the mother and baby.

What did we do? We opted for an intimate affair with family and close friends – American-style – celebrating my daughter’s love of nature and birds.

   Bird House Boxes by Faye Hubele 
   Bird-Seed Favors by 2BirdsInLove
   Palm-leaf plates & utensils from Marx Foods
   Photography by KRPND


Happy Gandhi Jayanti
Author: Gnaana


I remember when my son saw Gandhi-ji’s picture for the first time several months ago – I had a large copy of the above picture (the portrait, not the cupcake) lying around at home for a future Gnaana product.  When I noticed he was staring at the picture, I told him that it was Gandhi, and that he was “a very good man.”  I guess Gandhi’s photograph was amusing to him because he smiled (his cute, shy smile) and repeated “Gandhi.”  I guess if you think about it, Gandhi does look funny (especially when he’s enlarged) – with the bald head, ears sticking out, bushy mustache and the round spectacles – like a jovial grandfather ready to get silly with the kids.

Images are so powerful.

This Gandhi Jayanti, I propped up that picture on our cookbook stand and announced that it was Gandhi’s birthday.  Later this evening, we’re celebrating with a quiet party at home – with cupcakes and candles (since, in the world according to toddlers, one simply cannot have a birthday without cake), and a simplified oral story (my son’s latest craze) about the man who defeated an empire by being calm and patient.

And here is a great poem, written from a kid’s perspective, from an unknown author:

A Poem On Gandhiji
by: anonymous

It was vacation, and I had nothing to do;
I was at home and mummy daddy too;
My glance caught a sketch, of an old person;
He appeared to be the gentlest under the sun;
Strikingly, different was the expression in his Eyes;
Suddenly I felt guilty of all my lies;
His lips parted in a smile, so pure
He left me spellbound that’s for sure
“Who is he dad?” was my question
“Come on, don’t you know?” was his reaction
He is the one who has set us free;
He is the one who has planted the tree;
He is the one, who was bold enough;
Firm and stubborn but never rough;
Truth and non-violence is what he taught
Same were the principles for which he fought
Preaching and practices for once were the same
His deed were worth name and fame
I have never seen a soul, so tall;
Oh dad; he appears to be the father of all
“You said it, child” said my dad
‘Bapu’ is the name he always had
I saw the sketch again and again,
His returning smile was my greatest gain,
October 2nd was the day my friends
That certainly changed my life’s trends.



When I attended my cousin’s wedding in India about 10 years ago, I remember that the guests (all 1200 of us) dined on fresh banana leaves. Of course banana leaves were the norm back then at any function in India.  What a beautiful (and biodegradable) alternative to the plastic plates that fester in our landfills!

As I plan my daughter’s first birthday bash, I thought my choice of plates was limited to plastic (sturdy, but “no” on the eco) or paper (better, but most are still bleached).  That is, until I stumbled upon Bambu:  offering a sturdy and stylish Veneerware collection of 100% organic bamboo plates, trays and utensils.  They are marginally more expensive than their PartyCity counterparts (about 40-50 cents on average when bought in packs of 100) but oh so much better for Maata Bhumi (Mother Nature): they reportedly biodegrade in 4-6 months when composted.  And of course, what can beat bamboo – a high-yield renewable natural resource.  Check out the collection at

Probably as close to banana leaves as I will ever get.