Holi was my favourite festival growing up. I loved that on this day we were allowed to muck up, and that my parents were ok with the mess we made with coloured powder and (sometimes) water. And when the parents actually joined in and got just as messy as us kids – well, that was even more awesome!
Now that I have a little one of my own, I want them to experience that gay abandon that I felt as a child on Holi, and feel the infectious joy that is part of this festival.
Wishing near and dear ones
Simply teaching the kids to say “Happy Holi” is a great start – of course, the more boisterous the better! Practise with them so they can wish family and friends, in person or on the phone with loved ones if they live far. It’s amazing how this simple activity can put all and sundry in a good mood instantly.
Play-based and STEAM activities
When our children get to do play-based activities that encourage their creativity, it enhances their learning. Incorporating culture into activities for children is also a great way for them to imbibe the culture whilst having fun.
This week as we build up to Holi, we’ve done a range of activities at my place from art and craft to music to STEAM. The overarching theme for all the activities was to have fun with as much colour as we could.
For art we did an activity called Blow Paint, using paint and straws. Magic Painting using wax crayons and water paint was just as enjoyable.
For music and movement, we created a song with actions titled Aayi Holi and sang it for our loved ones.
We did a few STEAM (science, tech, engineering, art and maths) and sensory activities like “Making a rainbow” using Skittles candy and water. We also made rainbows with Oobleck (a gooey mixture of cornflour, food colour and water).
For very young kids, these Holi activities can be a great way to learn about colours. For older kids, DIY Holi colours can be fun as well as educational – try making eco-friendly gulal at home with flowers and vegetables and pantry ingredients.
Cooking festive delicacies as a family
Food and Indian festivals go together. A great way to include the entire family in the celebration is to cook together. Cooking also helps to teach science and maths to the children.
This year we made besan laddoos. It took a lot of patience and working together but once we got to the end product, we definitely enjoyed eating them!
Sharing stories about Holi
Everyone has an interesting Holi story – which they relate with great relish. Share yours with the kids, make it an annual family tradition! Throw in a story from history/mythology – Holika and Prahlad will then become familiar characters.
Reading stories is also a great way to learn about Holi. This year, we’ve quite enjoyed Let’s Celebrate Holi – a great little book if you can get your hands on it.
Holi can also be a great opportunity to teach about body boundaries. The kids might be keen to smear gulal all over someone’s face and hair, but it’s a good idea to teach them to ask first. Can I put gulal on you? We’ve become painfully aware in recent times that it’s never too early to teach our kids about consent, and asking permission. We must teach them that others’ decision must be accepted and respected.
I do believe that when cultural values and fun are combined, it makes it more memorable and meaningful for our children. I hope that you do incorporate some of these tips to make Holi a special and significant time for you and your families.
With Rajni Anand Luthra