Celebrating Diwali with Kids

rangoliA community member recently asked:

Any ideas on a simple way to celebrate Diwali? We are more agnostic, cultural Hindus rather than religious ones, but my almost 4 year old son is interested in learning more about it. I’m think maybe light a candle, talk about Lakshmi, and give clothes…..

For those on shaky ground, themselves, as to how to explain the holiday to your kids, here is a good overview and other information about the holiday. Diwali celebrates the coming of light into darkness, which can signify the new year washing away all ills, knowledge that dispels ignorance, the triumph of good over evil as inspired by the classic Ramayana story of Rama and Sita.

Prince Rama and his bride Sita were exiled to the forest for 14 years, during which time the evil demon king Ravana took a fancy to Sita and using a variety of disguises, tricked her into leaving her safe circle. He then kidnapped her to his kingdom and when she wouldn’t marry him, being a good and virtuous queen, he locked her in a tower where she was finally rescued by Prince Rama, with the help of Hanuman and his monkey army.

Here are some suggestions people had for simple ways to celebrate Diwali:

Interested? Got questions of your own to ask? Check out the rest of the discussion on Diwali… (log in first, it’s in Spirituality, Religion, and Faith)

  • We usually light candles and have sweets for Diwali. I might do some rangoli on our porch, too, if it’s nice outside.
  • Here are links for rangoli patterns for kids to color, or to use as templates for rangoli patterns outside your front door: Activity Village’s rangoli coloring pagess or DLTK’s crafts for kids.
  • Do you know other Indian (or half-Indian) families locally? What we generally do is invite them, dress up in Indian clothes, print out some Diwali coloring pages (with rangoli patterns) for the kids, either make or order out got Indian food, read a story to the kids about Diwali, and when it gets dark enough outside, bring out a buch of sparklers (we have some left over from July 4th) and let everyone have some. Fun party, and not remotely religious.
  • Another idea from a party we went to last year was buy some quick-dry modeling clay and help the kids form little divo (tea light) holders. Press small pretty pebbles into the soft clay. Sweet little favor to take home.
  • Or you could always invite a good friend of your child’s and their family, if you think they’d be receptive and into learning about the culture. (Tip: stress the sparklers and the sweets.) You can also give the kids sidewalk chalk and let them draw designs on your porch as a sort of modern rangoli!
  • The story of Prince Rama and his bride Sita could make a charming little play for children to act out (with the little ones excited to play the monkeys!)

Any recommendations for resources or stories about Diwali that are preschooler-friendly?

we have this book about Diwali. The story itself is very basic, but it has a longer section in the back explaining the holiday for parents (which I haven’t read yet, so I can’t say how it is, but it has decent Amazon reviews).

This other one looks cute but it’s out of stock, sadly. There’s a whole series — Diwali, Krishna, Holi, and Ramayana.

While we’re on the topic, does anyone know of any other good books about Hinduism/Indian stories for kids? We have the Diwali book I mentioned earlier, the Little Book of Hindu Deities, Chaat and Sweets, and Indian Children’s Favorite Stories, but I’d like a few more.

See if you can find any Amar Chitra Kathas! These are stories (some are historical, some are mythology and legend, some are about wars, some are about princes and princesses and gods and goddesses, some are cautionary tales) written in comic book form. I LOVED these as a child so when we went back to India as an adult, I bought a ton more, thinking then that I would share them with my someday children (wasn’t even married at the time!). And so now, yes, the kids are crazy about them and we read them to each other all the time. It’s such an easy, accessible way to learn about all these great tales. I’ve seen them available on American websites too, though can’t recall the names just now.

we have this book about Diwali and a few others by the same author. I haven’t cracked them open in almost a year (R got them last Christmas when he was still in the ripping up paper books stage so they’ve been put away since then), but from what I can recall, they weren’t too scary/violent. They’re told from the POV of a mom telling her little kids the stories.

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November Fashion Challenge — Grab your mustard scarf and jump on in!

Kitteh in Mustard ScarfNovember is almost upon us!  If you’ve been lurking along in the October challenge, it’s a great time to declare a challenge for yourself for next month. If you’re already playing along, what’s next?

Miss out on October’s fashion challenge? Never fear! November Fashion Challenge — Grab your mustard scarf and jump on in!

Some ideas to get you inspired:

  1. Define and stick to a Capsule Wardrobe for the month!
  2. Remix your wardrobe — don’t wear the exact same outfit twice!
  3. Focus on wearing and mixing accessories — jewelry, belts, scarves (headbands! bolo ties! leg warmers!)
  4. Find those wardrobe staples you’re missing to complete your winter wardrobe!
  5. Add a splash of fall/winter color: mustard, plum, deep teal, hunter green, brick or orange!
  6. Mix those neutrals! FikaFlicka insists that grey and tan and brown can all be worn together — let’s find out!
  7. Grow a mustache (wait, that’s MOvember. Just checking to see if you are paying attention Wink)
  8. Change your standard silhouette — try dresses! Go back to bootcut jeans! Find some fabulous wool pants or a plaid skirt…

The possibilities are endless, so grab your ADL-approved mustard scarf and/or fox sweater, and come on in!

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Internet Radio

iPhone MusicThere are a lot of different options for internet music these days, but it can be confusing to sort through them all. Thanks to the recent thread Internet Radio, we’re starting to get a handle on what’s out there.

Here’s a list of some options suggested by our community members:

  1. Pandora
  2. Hober
  3. KCRW’s eclectic24 station
  4. NPR’s 24 hour music station
  5. Slacker Radio
  6. Online-only streaming stations at http://somafm.com/
  7. Sirius/XM internet streaming
  8. Songza

Sound interesting? Check out the whole thread, and add your own reviews and suggestions, and read more details about these options.

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October Fashion Challenge

fashion collageOctober is almost over, but the October Fashion Challenge — Turn over a new leaf for fall! thread is still going strong. When you first notice a topic like this, you might pop into it expecting to find commentary on which boots are hot this fall, or how to layer knits. And you wouldn’t be wrong. But when I put out a call for topics to write up on the blog here, this thread got more votes than any other. Why?

Want to join us? You’ll want to bookmark http://www.picmonkey.com/ and October Fashion Challenge — Turn over a new leaf for fall! Grab your favorite boots, new sweater, kicky skirt, and your camera phone, and drop on by. (This post is in a public section of the board, so feel free to drop by and browse the commentary, but in order to see the pictures, you’ll have to log in.)

…the October Fashion Challenge thread has actually gotten to be a really interesting conversation about balancing body issues and self-confidence (especially post partum), consumerism and practicality, and even the balance of focusing on the frivolous (fashion) vs the “big stuff” going on in the world. The active posters in that thread have been really awesome, supportive, and thoughtful about talking about our ideas about fashion and how we fit it into our lives, as well as posting cute pictures and outfit ideas and helpful critiques and ways to put ourselves together while maintaining a hectic life with work/kids etc.

Anyway, it surprised me, because I thought it was just going to be about what trend was hot and how to wear belts, and it’s turned into a fascinating active discussion!

Here’s some

I think this is so interesting. I am finding that I am thinking up new ways to wear the clothes that I have, and also that I am identifying more wardrobe holes and also just wanting stuff I didn’t know I needed (ahem, mustard flats). That’s not meant to be a critique of anyone here, just me musing that when I go through times of paying more attention to/being more intentional about the way I dress, I feel better about my appearance (just because I’m putting in some effort), but also that I tend to buy more/want more/spend more time thinking about shopping/etc. It’s a little bit uncomfortable.

and

Yes! This is happening to me too. Part of it I don’t mind, because I have spent the last several years not buying much stuff and just trying to get by on what I had, and this is forcing me to find things that really work both in my closet and in new purchases. And I partly don’t mind because when I do buy things, I am trying to be mindful of how they will fit into the overall scheme of my wardrobe and not just because they are shiny (even my new purple boots — I wear a ton of purple so they are totally going to get worn all winter when the weather will allow). But it is a little uncomfortable to be focused on fashion (because it seems very frivolous in a way. I sometimes feel guilty that people like this thread so much. Because… Syria! And government shutdown! But OMG you guys mustard flats! I am not trying to put any of us down. There’s no reason we can’t want to look cute while we discuss Syria or the ACA, but you know what I mean.) I have to remind myself that there’s no inherent virtue in dressing like a frump, either. But I also don’t want to be just consuming more and more to have this year’s trends or keep up with my imaginary internet Joneses. I feel like there’s a balance.

And that is also part of why I wanted to do the challenge, so I could get to a certain comfort level in my dressing, so that I could go back to not paying as much attention to it. I feel like if I can get a baseline here — what works, what doesn’t, what elements am I really missing, what do I have that I am not wearing — then I can elevate my game to a new plateau, and then go back to not thinking about it too much and not buying stuff.  Maybe. Roll Eyes

Deep thoughts indeed.

What to join in? You’ll want to bookmark http://www.picmonkey.com/ and October Fashion Challenge — Turn over a new leaf for fall! Grab your favorite boots, new sweater, kicky skirt, and your camera phone, and drop on by.

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