Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Amma, tell me about Diwali!

First published on Parent Edge blog 

No matter which part of India you are in, it’s hard to ignore the festive spirit this season brings in! Whether it’s bursting crackers, or attending numerous religious or cultural events lined up in the neighbourhood temples, or the shopping frenzy and lightening Diwali sales put by all retailers, off-line or online, or enjoying the extended Dusshera-Diwali vacations with the kids, holiday cheer is everywhere!

While it’s our second cracker-free Diwali, it’s the first Diwali experience for the little one at home, which for a five month old, it would mean more than anything else noise emanating from the crackers!!  While bursting fire crackers, gorging on sweets and treats is fun, there’s more to Diwali than just the merrymaking, how do we get our children to realize the importance of the same? Here’s a delightful series that does just that and what’s more …it’s presented in a format that combines the power of story-telling with rich imagery to engage and educate our kids on Indian tradition and values.  Here comes the “Amma, tell me” series by Bhakti Mathur and illustrations by Maulshree Somani brought out by Hong Kong based Anjana publications. Comprising of a series of picture books on Indian festivals and Indian mythology for children between the age group of 3 to 9 years, these books are a great way to enlighten the kids on the stories and sentiments behind the observance and celebrations of our festivals. Besides many titles on festivals such as “Amma, tell me about Holi” or  “Amma, tell me about Ganesha” or the series on Mythology such as “Amma, tell me about Ramayan”,  this vibrantly illustrated series also presents interesting tales from the Hindu epics in a trilogy format such as the trilogy series on Krishna and Hanuman. 

For this festive season, however, we picked out “Amma, tell me about Diwali!”  which believe me, will have you and your little one feeling festive on the first reading itself!  As most titles in the series, it starts off with the little boy named Klaka excitedly waking up to a typical Diwali morning characterized by new clothes and gifts followed by the lighting of Diyas, fire crackers in the evening, and the family offering prayers to God for good fortune, prosperity and health. As the children wonder about the story behind the celebrations, whom do they approach? Amma…of course, who at bedtime regales them with stories that explain the significance of the festival of lights. While elaborating on the meaning of Diwali, Amma in the story also delves into the multiple dimensions to festivities that includes remembering Lord Rama and his triumphant return to Ayodhya on Diwali day, while also encapsulating a brief account of Ramayana.  Of course, Diwali is not only all dazzle and fun, but the children are subtly reminded of the value of honesty, hard work and dedication through the story of Goddess Lakshmi and the poor seamstress. The beauty of this book not only lies in free-flowing narrative and engagingly rhyming text, but also in the simple message that the author attempts to convey to today’s kids brought up in a consumerist world that we live in.  The colouful illustrations are not only striking, but also present an authentic setting of Diwali celebrations in a typical Indian household, and not to forget the amiable images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, particularly when Klaka is shown seated beside Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth! As this series also caters to the Western audience, each story ends with a Glossary on Hindu names and symbols, which is quite educative to the Indian audience as well. Though a little pricy as compared to some of the Indian children’s publications, “Amma, tell me” series, is a wonderful “Mythology made simple and meaningful” that is sure to capture the imagination of young minds and will have them begging for ‘Amma, tell me more’!! Enjoy the festive season and happy Diwali everyone! 

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