The festive season is approaching with four major festivals in its wake, beginning with Navratri and Durga Puja, Dusshera and Diwali. Preparations for these festivals are done with great joy every year. Cleaning and decoration of homes, buying new clothes and ornaments, making sweets and savouries for loved ones. Festive times are a great time for storytelling as well, with tons of opportunities to go over stories of Gods, Demons, Earth, Heaven, Good, Evil, the Common, the Uncommon, the Normal, the Paranormal and a lot more…

Here are some stories that I have read to my kids and found that they make not just excellent conversation starters but spark off ideas, questions and pondering in the minds of young kids as well.

 

Amma, Tell me about Durga Puja!

Written by Bhakti Mathur & Illustrated by Maulshree Somani, this book tells all you would want to know about the ten days of worshipping the divine Goddess Durga as a mother who nurtures, as a loving & delightful daughter and as a guardian shielding us from evil. Each of the ten days has its own significance. The Durga Puja begins with the welcoming of the Goddess by singing hymns and offering Bhog in the form of various delicacies. The last day of the Puja is celebrated as Sindoor Khela where the ladies smear vermillion on Maa Durga and each other. It signifies the victory of good over evil since on this day Maa Durga defeated the demon Mahishasura. Then we bid farewell to Maa Durga by gently immersing her in the waters.

The book not only gives a lyrical account of how Maa Durga defeated Mahishasura but also celebrates womanhood depicting Maa Durga as a gentle nurturer & provider as well as a fierce warrior and protector from evil.

 

Ravan RemedyRavan Remedy

This book published by National Book Trust is a beautiful picture book conceptualised by Suddhasattwa Basu. The book is about two kids making an effigy of Ravan to burn on the Dushhera day to signify the victory of good over evil. But then they see that a lot of birds are eating away the crops in the fields of their village. The two kids look at each other and instantly know a better use of Ravan. Rather than burning it and having fun with crackers and rockets in the effigy, they decide to put it as a scarecrow in the fields. The book has so many underlying messages put down very subtly and beautifully through pictures only. It opens up a lot of possibilities for meaningful discussions with the kids regarding Ravan who has only been seen as an evil asura and burned down every year.

Amma, Tell me about Diwali!

Amma tell me about Diwali

This one from the Amma, Tell me series, describes how Diwali is celebrated by worshipping Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi and lighting Diyas and burning crackers. But the kids ask their Amma as to why Diwali is celebrated as a festival of Diyas and lights. Author Bhakti Mathur then describes the epic of Ramayana giving a brief account of how Rama, who was supposed to be coronated as the king of Ayodhya had to spend fourteen years in forests as an ascetic. He faced innumerable difficulties fighting demons in the forests but then Ravana the king of Lanka kidnapped Sita. Rama then fights the ten-headed Ravana with the help of Hanuman and protects Sita. It was also the time to go back to Ayodhya after spending fourteen years in the forest. Thousands of Diyas were lit by the people of Ayodhya to welcome their beloved Rama and since then we light Diyas on Diwali.

Also Read: Sri Ramanavami: Why do we celebrate it the way we do?

Here’s a little list of activities to do with kids for the festivities:

1. Decorate the Pooja Thali:

Decorating a Pooja Thali is an engaging task that helps develop fine and gross motor skills in kids, not to mention that they lend themselves to hours of creativity and fun!

2. Learn Goddess Durga Aarti:

A great way to let kids in on any family-specific traditions and customs that get them in touch with their roots.

3. Begin the art of journaling:

Dusherra is about the victory of good over evil. Make a diary entry about one bad habit of yours and the ways in which it can be changed. Follow it for all 9 days of Navratri and write a diary entry about the feelings. Then tear the diary entry about the bad habit, making a vow( and a plan) to beat the habit!

4. Plant saplings:

Many homes plant seeds within their home to signify life, nourishment, growth and prosperity. Why not take it to our street, our community-plant a few saplings in places both familiar and unfamiliar? Maybe drive somewhere, scatter seeds along the way?

5. Paint Diyas and learn to make Rangoli:

Again, nothing like dainty, colourful, Indian art to proudly feature on your floor and walls!

6. Learn to make some yummylicious delicacies:

Indian food is rich in texture and flavour, and what can be a better use of all this festive time than to savour all that, and even be a part of the maker team? Let your child chat up with her grandma while watching her deftly fry the boondis and mix them into the sweet syrup. Let her admire her grandmother making those laddu balls with her hands while it is still hot, and hear her explain how the heat helps them stick together. And while your child pays her compliments, watch the grandma’s cheeks glow with the sheen of sweat – and pride and happiness! There – you have already made a memory for life!
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Neha Modi

Neha Modi is a Chartered Accountant-turned-Storyteller. An avid reader and a dedicated mother, she was associated with Thakur Institute of Management Studies and Research, Mumbai as a Finance Professor for 4 years. She is currently a visiting faculty at coaching institutes and teaches commercial applications to 9th & 10th standard students.

Her mantra in life is - Grow through what you go through.

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