One of the main reasons why we decided to move to India for a while was for my daughter to get acquainted with the multiple festivals and traditions of her Indian heritage.
Therefore, I am always searching for opportunities to expose her to them. Books, invitations to other people’s celebrations, temples, movies, etc.
Navratri and Durga Pooja
Right now it’s time to experience Navratri, which is one of the biggest Hindu festivals in this part of India. It literally means “Nine Nights” in sanskrit.
It starts 15 days after Ganesh Chaturthi finishes, which are Pitru Paksha as you read in my post about Shradh vs Day of the Dead.
So basically from September till January it’s one long back-to-back festival in India! He he he!
Durga is the Mother of the Universe, something like the female side of God. She’s a protector and defender of her devotees.
On the 6th day of Navrati, the Bengali celebrations for Durga begin, so my proudly Bengali mother-in-law is tugging us along from one “Pujo” to the next.
(FYI, Bengal is the region in the northeast where Calcutta is, Bengalis are people from that region).
Before the tour I wanted my daughter to understand what this was all about so she could focus on the cultural part of it and not only on the gastronomical which is really very tempting!
Durga Pooja for kids
Luckily, Shoumi Sen from The Toddler Diaries came to the rescue! She sent us a copy of this amazing book to explain Durga Pooja to the little ones.
Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! (From the Toddler Diaries)
My mother-in-law was very excited to find an appealing and age-appropriate way to capture her interfaith granddaughter’s interest in her traditions. She´s even buying another copy for her other grandson!
We thought it was a simple, graphic and interesting way to introduce my 6-year-old to an otherwise adult celebration. My daughter enjoyed the illustrations and felt related to little Riya.
Now she can substitute in her mind with these cute illustrations, many of the idols she has seen in temples which are a frankly a little bit scary, you know, with the dead man, the lion, the blood, the weapons and all that.
Some of the terms were unknown to both her and me, like dhakis or bhog, but my MIL did her best to get us acquainted to one of the festivals closer to her heart.
(Dhakis are the traditional drums they are playing all the time and bhog is the food that they give you as offering after pooja like prasad).
After reading it again and again, about 10 times, she was demanding more explanations and stories, mostly about how Durga defeated the demon Mahisasur.
Now she has a favourite Goddess to look up to. She wants to be strong and powerful like Ma Durga!
How do you make religion or traditions easy for your kids to relate to? I would love to hear your strategies!
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