Ganapathi Bappa Morya!

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It’s time to feast on laddoos and modaks and welcome Lord Ganesha into our homes. Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival predominantly celebrated in Maharashtra and Karnataka. So, who is Ganesha or Ganapathi? He is the son of Shiva and Parvathi and is often referred to as the elephant headed god. There many stories about how he got the elephant head, one of them is that when Parvati created a young boy and breathed life into him. She asked him to guard the door while she bathes. When Shiva comes home, the boy stops him and in his rage cuts the boy’s head. To appease Parvathi, he brought the boy back to life and replaced his head with an elephant’s head.

Ganesh Chaturthi is a 10-day festival, wherein an idol of Ganesha is brought home and placed. He is surrounded by decorations and lights. Modaks, which look alike to momos, is a sweet made specially for the festival. It is said to be Ganesha’s favorite sweet. Friends and families gather together to perform pujas and sing bhajans. People are dressed in traditional attire.

Apart from Ganesh idols at home, there are public Ganesh idols too, on the streets. Generally seen in Mumbai and Bangalore, these public idols are of mammoth sizes and the entire street is lit. Maharashtrian crowds even perform a dance using an Indian instrument called Lazzim.

The number of days the idol is kept at home or in public varies. Some people keep the idol of one day some 5, some 9; after which the idol is taken to the sea or a nearby river for immersion. This immersion symbolises his journey back to heaven. Until recently,  the idols used to be made of plaster of paris (pop) which today has been banned in many parts of India, due to its toxic material. Today people have started buying idols made of clay or  mud which easily dissolve in the water, causing no harm to water based organisms.

There is a common saying in Marathi -’Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Pudcha Varshi Laukar ya!’ Which translates to - ‘long live Ganapathi,  come again soon next year!’ So kids, let us all welcome an eco-friendly Ganapathi, whole heartedly, as he blesses us for a bright future and a green world!

5 Benefits of Yoga for Kids

 

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The world celebrated the 3rd International Yoga Day, and like the previous years it was an unqualified success.

The ancient practice originated in India and the whole world was looking towards India to take the initiative to take make it popular across the world.

In keeping with the sentiment, our country presented a strong case to the United Nations to declare June 21 as International Yoga Day.

Importance of Traditions & Culture for Kids

Kids today are torn between tradition and modernity. Educators and parents are faced with an important question: how to strike a perfect balance between trying to reinforce traditional values, but not be seen as offering resistance to the only constant thing in life--change.

 

Change can be defined as an opportunity offered by nature for course correction. Is all change good and, by extension, do all traditional things qualify to be termed as good by default?

 

The answer to this query does not provide for an unambiguous answer either in affirmative or otherwise--there are multiple shades of grey.

 

Today we live in a multicultural society, which is a byproduct of globalization. Therefore, teaching children about tradition and culture in the modern context calls for a fresh perspective -- one that takes into consideration the modern sensibilities and the environment we live in.

 

While all change may not be good, it may also be argued that there are certain traditions and cultural aspects that are worth preserving and fighting for. But it is great to have an open mind too. Let us take a look at some of the values that are relevant at all times:

 

Importance of Family Life: This is the most important factor responsible for inculcating moral and ethical values in children. We must therefore impress upon the younger generation why family is so important and how it acts as a support system they can rely upon at all times.

 

Respect for elders: India is one of the only few countries in the world where we are taught to respect our elders--in fact, it is ingrained in us. We must continue to uphold this tradition, for, elders enforce a sense of order and discipline in families and in the community.

 

Celebrating Festivals: They are great for learning about our traditions and culture. One must be proud of their heritage but at the same time learn to respect others’ ways and viewpoints too. This is very important in the multicultural environment we live in today.

 

Festivals like Diwali, Id, and Christmas are no longer celebrated only by the respective community, but celebrated as national festivals cutting across all divisions lends credence to the fact that the future of a nation as diverse as ours is in good hands.

What values do festivals teach us?

India is a vast country where the landscape – along with language and customs – changes every few kilometers. We are the most diverse country in the world by far!

Festivals are an integral part of a country: There is not a single community, or country in the world that does not celebrate some festival associated with seasons, religion or a day that holds special significance to the people of that country.

In India, we celebrate Diwali, Ramzan, Christmas, Guru Poornima (and many others) which have their origins in religion, while Bihu, Pongal and Sankranti are about celebrating nature.

There has been a welcome trend in our country in recent times that can go a long way in further strengthening relationship between different communities. We now celebrate most festivals which were earlier considered as being specific to a community cutting across divisions – religious, ethnic and linguistic. This is unsurprising and is consistent with our national ethos.

Are you surprised at the emerging trend? If you are not, it is clear the thought never crossed your mind. It is also possible that you did not think it was worth looking for differences when finding similarities with fellow human beings made more sense to you. It reaffirmed your belief that all festivals are a celebration of Unity – the oneness of mankind.

We are born equal and we must live as equals. We have no adversaries but in disease, poverty, and illiteracy and we must be united in our fight against them.

The world belongs to all of us, but so does the responsibility of keeping it the way our forefathers found it many moons ago.

We should strive to leave the world in a better shape for our future generations. Harvest festivals across the world are celebrated with this specific purpose in mind. Our ancestors realized that Nature is the supreme force that rewards us for our good deeds, and punishes us for the bad ones.

Festivals are celebrated with another purpose in mind; to reaffirm our commitment to our family, friends and the community we live in. It is also a happy occasion for making new pledges.

Finally, conservation of nature and promotion of unity among the inhabitants of our planet should be our top priority and festivals help us achieve both the objectives in a fun way.

Festivals Food and Family

Most parents have two preoccupations: the first is to keep their children out of mischief; and the second is to ensure the children eat well and eat right.

Children typically have short attention spans. Keeping them interested in any activity for long periods of time is an art and requires ingenuity and patience on the parents' part. And keeping children away from unhealthy food and persuading them to eat right requires a miracle!

Celebration of festivals is a family affair in India and food plays an important role in the festivities, and Navratri is no exception.

Navaratri ('nine nights' in Sanskrit) is a festival dedicated to the Hindu deity Durga, and celebrated over nine nights, during which the goddess is worshipped in nine forms. The tenth day is referred to as Vijayadashami or "Dussehra."

So why not combine the two goals this season to keep your kids engaged? First, let us look at some simple recipes for you to try out with your children. It is important for you to supervise your kids’ activities in the kitchen at all times.

Since our main objective is to involve children to help us around the kitchen, let’s keep our recipes simple. (Source: http://www.vegrecipesofindia.com/)

  1. Banana Milkshake: Simple, yet delicious and healthful. Blend bananas, vanilla and coconut milk in the blender. Add sugar (optional) and sprinkle cardamom powder on top.
  2. Sweet Lime (Mosambi) Juice: Slightly labour-intensive, but useful to get the children to help you peel and remove the seeds from the fruit. Blend the fruit in a juicer, add honey or sugar, add ice cubes and serve.
  3. Cucumber Raita: Chop or grate the cucumber, add it to the beaten curd, and garnish the mixture with coriander or mint leaves.

The essence of celebrating festivals is to strengthen family bonds. Festivals are also a great time to teach our children the importance of money and the joy of lending a helping hand in household chores.

Grocery shopping with your children is a great way to teach them about the value of money. Getting them to help you around the kitchen will help them to learn about the importance of teamwork.

Finally, children expect their parents to spend quality time with them and they consider parental attention as the greatest gift they could ever hope to receive.

Mount Litera Zee school wishes you a happy Navratri. May you be blessed with a life full of happiness and good fortune.