It’s the start of festivities in India with Pongal, Sakranti, Lohri, Bihu, Bhogi upon us this week. These are festivals that hold a great significance to all Indians as they are harvest festivals, in a society that once used to be largely agrarian. As a family that is bicultural, in my own family we celebrate both Pongal and Lohri.
Today, I’m going to share some tips on how you can celebrate these festivals as a family and get the little ones involved.
Tip 1: Educate your children on the festival
A great way to learn about any festival is to share stories about the festival with your children. You can talk about how you celebrate Pongal or Lohri or Sakranti and why it’s important to you. This is a great way to bond with your children too. You can also read stories or listen to stories about the festivals so that children can relate better.
A great book for Pongal/Lohri in our family has been Festival Stories Through the Year by Rachna Chhabria. The pictures in the book have been awesome at explaining the differences between the festivals to our little one. The little one now knows that Lohri is a Punjabi festival that is celebrated by dancing around the bonfire to the beat of the dhol. In addition to that, Pongal is celebrated as a harvest festival in southern India with a rice dish called pongal, which can be sweet or savoury.
Tip 2: Plant a veggie patch
Hey, what better way to teach the littlies about a harvest festival than to show them what farmers do, right? Plan a morning planting a veggie patch. Get down to Bunnings or your local nursery and ask the kids to pick their favourite vegetables to plant. And while you’re at it, why not get them their own tools? Give them their own little corner in the garden or their own little pot plant to care for. You could also start some seeds indoors – they’ll love it. Maybe make some popsicle markers to use in the garden? You could be igniting a lifelong passion.
Tip 2: Make festive delicacies with your children
Food and Indian festivals go together. A great way to include the entire family in the celebration of any festival is to cook together. Cooking with the kids also helps to teach them science and maths.
For Pongal, you could cook the traditional pongal (rice/milk/ghee etc) together and explain the significance of letting it boil over from the pot so that there is abundance in the family. For Lohri, we made some ‘chikki’ with peanut and jaggery and some sesame laddoos, and bought some popcorn to have.
Tip 3: Play-based festive activities with your children
When our children get to do play-based activities that encourage their creativity, it enhances their learning. With regards to the harvest festivals, this means doing activities like making kites together or making sugarcane using craft materials, or colouring in some rangoli/kolam or decorating a clay pot with paint for Pongal.
You could also recreate a small bonfire using candles for Lohri whilst listening to some Punjabi music and toast some marshmallows and have these to celebrate.
Tip 4: Involve the children
The best way to get your child interested in any festivities is to make them a part of the festival. Talk through each aspect of the festival and involve them as much as you can. For example, during Pongal it is important to wear new clothes so go shopping with your children and let them select their outfits. For Lohri, for example, it is important to donate some clothes to the needy – what better way for your child to learn about donating/charity than by experiencing it for themselves.
Tip 5: Make it an entertaining and memorable festival for children
I believe festivals hold more meaning for children when they can associate a particular memory to that festival. So most importantly, create some awesome memories when celebrating with children and have fun.
So what are you waiting for? Get the kids to wish others in the family Happy Lohri or Happy Pongal!
READ ALSO: The Big Book of Festivals