The world we are living in is evolving; technology has completely changed the way we interact with one another and even our children. Today’s children lead a very detailed scheduled life, meticulously crafted by parents who do a lot of research into how their children should lead their lives. We are sorted, our lives synced just like our calendars with afterschool programs ranging from soccer practice, gymnastics, dance classes to swimming; there is a lot of time spent in such activities, but not enough time with each other.
Canada is a land of immigrants, and we pride ourselves on that. We love how our neighbors and our neighborhood is a reflection of our diversity and our unity all at once. While trying to maintain a healthy balance between our present and our past is a responsibility that all parents try to juggle, as a first-generation immigrant myself, I find it necessary to teach my child about his roots, about where his parents came from while still recognising the Canadian roots he has inherited from the land we adopted as our own.
I come from the Himalayan province of Uttrakhand in India and my husband is from the southern province of Kerala. Although we are both from the same country, our festivities, culture, and languages are completely different. So when we decided to give a glimpse of our childhood to our son, I felt there was some literature available but nothing that quenched my journalistic appetite for details.
This led to the thought, which now has become reality- Ved and Friends Celebrate Dussehra and Diwali. This book details the various festivities, which kick off with Navratri and end with the celebration of Diwali. I think India and the South Asian continent is a great example of multiculturalism and diversity, so why not showcase this to our children? I was dissuaded not to write this book by a few concerned friends, who asked me: “Why would you write a book about something that’s readily available online and can be accessed for free?”
True, a lot of information is accessible from the net, but in our busy lives do we have the time to research and find the right content to expose our kids to? Do we have time between swimming lessons, birthday parties, work pressure and the pressure to get from point A to point B? You need to develop an interest in reading and try to understand the world of opportunity reading opens a child’s mind.
Children in today’s world are bombarded by screen time- snap chat, Instagram and probably 5 more ‘cool’ apps that have cropped up in the world from the time I wrote this article to the time you are reading it. If we make teaching our culture fun and make an effort to start young, as young as 3 to 4 years or even younger, children will be more receptive to our teachings and it will be more organic.
Festivals like Durga Puja are celebrated with great fervor in Canada today. The various events happening across the GTA helps us give our children a glimpse of how Navratri, Dussehra and Diwali and other festivals like Holi are celebrated. Our children feel connected with the ambiance and lovely ethnic clothes, the puja rituals, and the pandals, all of which no doubt help to connect them to our childhood home and culture.
Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time. – Rabindranath Tagore.
We left our country of origin several years ago. The home we knew has changed; we know that when we visit it and see the changes that have come along while we were busy living our lives here in Canada. To expect our children to learn things and follow things the way we did is a bit too much. No child is same, no teaching method is set in stone; what we need to do is adapt to the present atmosphere we live in and help our children in their journey to be good culturally aware human beings.
If we start young with our children they will absorb the stories we tell them and take our gods and goddesses as their heroes. There are so many magical beings and magical stories with such good morals behind them, that our kids will feel such great pride in knowing them. As a rebellious teen, I know there was a phase where I wasn’t into the story time sessions with my elders; I had outgrown it. But whenever in trouble or doubt, the stories read to me as a child, stayed with me, its teachings still resonating with me even now as I fulfill the role of a mother to my child.
We need to repackage all our “good stuff” or teachings for the new generation who has so many distractions in their lives now and educate them about their roots. Read to them, teach them, and most importantly listen to them. I have no Ph.D. nor am I so experienced in life that I would consider giving you advise, but I would most definitely suggest to you, so please make time for stories; it opens the world of imagination, that no cartoon or TV show can. With time, make growth in the content you talk to them about during story time.
I remember finding it such a pain at times to follow my father’s rules of knowing the top 3 news of the day and what they mean- a session we had before our regular story time, which with the years from storybooks turned into the reading of self-help books. But the time spent discussing things with my father gave us more understanding of the world around us, and the major things happening around the world. Soon it became a challenge to know more and have more insights to things; this general curiosity led me to be a journalist. Children won’t always tell their parents they found certain things helpful, or that they actually enjoy stuff. We as parents must make it a habit to do so anyway- bare the tantrums of making them part with their favorite gadgets for just a while so we can have these conversations with them.
Have fun, read stories, share childhood memories of back home – being a child, share your insecurities with them when you were of their age. Let them think – OMG you did ‘that’ when you were young! It’s all good. This is your sacred time with your kids; enjoy it, own it and make ‘Ved and his friends’ a part of your festive season ritual.
‘Ved and Friends’ was officially launched by the honorable Consul general of India, Mr. Dinesh Bhatia on 25th September.
-Diksha Pal Narayan
Diksha is an Author, TV Producer, and Journalist. To know more about her visit
You can order your copy here, it is available on Amazon or grab your copy from select Indian stores:-
India sajawat and pooja hut, Brampton, Ontario, Canada.
Spice hut in Morrisville, North Carolina, U.S.A