Posts Tagged ‘stories’

Holi Egg Puppets
Author: Gnaana

Usher in spring with crafty egg puppets – a perfect use of leftover Holi colors (see our post below on how to make your own Holi colors) –  and a creative twist to traditional Easter eggs. 

To color your eggs, you can either make your own natural egg dyes or use store-bought ones.  We followed Martha Stewart’s recipe for natural dyes – using red cabbage, turmeric, onion skins and beets – and ended up with a radiant array of eggs red, blue, yellow, green and pink:

For the puppets, simple markers work best.  We also used giggle eyes, attached with snips of double-sided tape.  You can use the Egg Puppets to illustrate the Legend of Holi, or a favorite story of your own!


Nala and Damayanti…a classic Indian love story.  It’s about a brave King (Nala) who falls in love with a Princess (Damayanti) he has never seen.  He merely hears about her beauty and intelligence through a sage who comes to his court – and he’s smitten!  Social decorum prevented Nala from professing his love for Damayanti in person, so he sends her messages via a golden swan.  Damayanti falls in love with Nala too this way, but in order for the couple to be united, she has to outwit the Gods Indra, Agni, Varuna and Yama – who also vie for her hand.

My father told me this story when I was a little girl – and I was so inspired that in my secret playtime I would pretend that I was Princess Damayanti.  So beautiful that even the Gods wanted to marry her…and so intelligent that she could outsmart them!  What a role model!

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, we’ve designed these precious printables  – based on the story of Nala and Damayanti.  And they’re free!  Just download, print (on cardstock), cut and fold.  (We’ve also included an option to print a simple “to” and “from” block for the front of the card).  The cards fold to a 3.5″ square – cut marks are indicated on the printout. 

You can punch a hole and secure with a ribbon (like we did), or just fasten with a sticker – no envelope needed (i’m sure the trees will thank us)! 

Download here:  Nala Card, Nala Cover
Damayanti Card, Damayanti Cover

And you can read the story to your kids here:  The Story of Nala and Damayanti

I hope your children are inspired as I was by the story!


We featured Chachaji’s Cup, a wonderful book by Uma Krishnaswami about an Indian-American boy, his great-uncle and the 1947 partition of India in our November Newsletter.  Now – guess what!  It’s coming to life in NYC!  Yes, folks Making Books Sing is staging a musical called Tea With Chachaji featuring traditional dance and live music.  The musical is geared towards kids, but book-lovers of all ages are of course welcome to attend.

Performances are on January 30, 31 and February 3.

And the best part:  Gnaana families will receive a $2.50 discount off the ticket price.  Click here for details.

So mark your calendars – don’t let your kids miss-out on this one-of-a-kind experience!

Sita Sings the Blues
Author: Gnaana


OK, this one is for the adults.  If you haven’t seen Nina Paley’s brilliant (and modern) rendition of the Ramayana – you definitely should!  This is a hilarious Disney-meets-The Simpsons full length animated film (82 minutes).  Yes, it’s a cartoon, but parents will want to pre-screen the cartoon film to see if they are comfortable showing it to their kids.

Don’t expect it to be the be-all-end-all authority on the storyline of the epic – just take it for what it is. 

Without further adieu:

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.



Navratri.  What is it?  Why is it observed?  The most popular legend goes like this: 

Once upon a time, Lord Brahma granted Mahishasura (the buffalo demon) a boon as a reward for his faithful devotion.  The boon protected Mahishasura from being defeated by any man in the universe.  Mahishasura became greedy with his new powers (he was a demon after all) and wreaked havoc.  The male gods were powerless, so they created Goddess Durga and endowed her with shakti (divine power).  Durga, along with with Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati, defeated Mahishasura in a fierce battle, which lasted 9 nights (10 days).

As with other important Hindu holidays, Navratri is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India.  In East India, the festival is almost exclusively devoted to Goddess Durga and 9 forms of Durga are worshipped – 1 on each night of the festival.  In some parts of North India, stories from the Ramayana are invoked.  In West India, Durga’s triumph is rejoiced with garba and dandiya raas.

In essence, this 9-night (10 day) festival is a celebration of womanhood – a jubilatory articulation of the unwavering powers of the divine feminine to defeat evil in the world.  The powers of each of the 3 main Hindu Goddesses are worshipped for 3 nights each:  Durga’s (Parvati’s) strength and energy for the first 3 nights, Lakshmi’s power to bestow success and fortune on the second 3 nights, and finally Saraswati’s powers of knowledge on the last 3 nights.  No single skill or tool is powerful enough to conquer evil; rather, the union of all feminine powers is necessary.  Now, how exactly do you explain this concept to your kids?

We devised a clever art (and math) project to illustrate this popular Navratri legend:  Storybook Pyramids.  This is a 4-sided pyramid –  a base and 3 triangles, where each triangle is a a Goddess (Durga (Parvati), Lakshmi and Saraswati).  Together, they join forces and encapsulate an evil demon. 

Navratri Craft_2

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 sheets of cardstock (different colors)
A “bad guy” a.k.a Mahishasura (we used a Halloween skeleton) – about 3 inches high
Embelishments (e.g. glitter, wiggle eyes, stickers, markers or paint)
Transparent tape
A small cap or ring (to secure the top of the pyramid)

Using our Triangle Template (available here), cut out 4 triangles.  Decorate 3 triangles as “goddesses,” emphasizing the special qualities of each.  We used simple stickers – tool stickers for Durga, shiny heart stickers for Lakshmi and “back to school” stickers for Saraswati.  When finished, tape the triangles to the base (on the inside) and then place your “bad guy” on the base.  Fold-up the triangles to form a pyramid and secure the tip with a cap.

You can do this project in a single afternoon or space it out among the 10 days.  The idea is to narrate the Navratri legend as your child is creating.  Have fun and Happy Navratri!