August Festivals: Planning Ahead

If you are anything like me, you probably have big intentions to celebrate Indian holidays and talk to your kids about them, but then they just sneak up on you and you are not prepared. Anyone else?

ganesh chaturthi{Ganesh visarjan (immersion) in Mumbai}

This year I’m determined to participate in festival season and really get my kids involved in the celebrations, so I’m getting started with my planning now. A quick peek at the calendar tells me that there are several days in August that I need to block off or plan for. While not every holiday gets celebrated in a big way at my house, the ones we will recognize are; Rakhi, Janamashtmi, and Ganesh Chaturathi. To help me get organized and prepared, I’ve started a Pinterest boardfor each occasion to capture the foods I want to make, and activities I want to try with the kids. 

For more ideas & inspiration on August holidays click through the jump…

August 10 – Rakhi/Raksha Bandhan

Rakhi: a festival that celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters. Usually signified by the bracelet like thread sisters tie on their brother’s wrist. 

Cubby Lion rakhi{The most adorable DIY rakhi from Artsy Craftsy Mom}

We didn’t really celebrate Rakhi when I was kid, because traditionally it marks a day to celebrate the bond between brothers & sisters, and I don’t have a brother. Now that I have a son and a daughter I like to recognize Rakhi, but in a slightly non-traditional way. This year I’m planning on getting the kids make DIY rakhi’s for each other and have both of them tie one on the other.

sequin-rakhi{Another beauty! You really need to check out her blog}

I like the symbolism of tying a rakhi on your brother’s arm so he promises to protect you and look out for you, but I also think that it can work the other way – sisters looking out for brothers. On that note; even two sisters can tie a rakhi on each other. 

I’m also planning to make a Rakhi care package for my one cousin that I like to connect with on Rakhi. I’m hoping to fashion something that looks a little less blinged out than a traditional rakhi and matches his designer corporate suits better! Also in the plan; baking some sort of Indian sweet that can be mailed, and a ‘bhabhi gift’. Any suggestions?

August 17 – Krishan Janamashtmi

Janamashtmi: Krishna Janmashtami is an annual commemoration of the birth of Krishan Bhagwan

Several years ago I visited a local Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple on Janamashtmi with a family friend and have been enamored by this celebration ever since. 

yashoda and krishan{Krishanji and Yashoda}

Although I really have no idea how Krishan Janamashtmi is celebrated in a religious context, I have some fun ideas for crafts I’d like to do with the kids to mark the occasion. Some of the ideas I’m playing around with are peacock feather decorations (maybe a wreath for our door?), sohne ke mukhat/gold crowns inspired by Krishanji, and making homemade makhan/churned butter. Since many people break a matki of makhan on Janamashtmi, I’m also considering trying to make a matki shaped pinata, but I’ve never worked with paper mache before so I’m not sure where to start with that one!

August 29 – Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi: the festival celebrated on the birthday (rebirth) of the lord Ganesha, the son of Shiva and Parvati.

I probably need to write an entire post on the symbolism and celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi (which span about 10 days), but the lessons I really focus on when talking to my kids about Ganesh Utsav is hospitality. There are many versions of the saying ‘atithi devo bhava’ which is short means the guest is God, or the guest becomes God, but the lesson is the same; treat those who enter your home with hospitality and love.

We’ve never celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi at home and always visit the Mandir for celebrations, this year however I’m planning to make my own eco-friendly Ganeshji and keeping him at home as my guest for 10 days. At the end of the 10 day period we will take him to a local river for ‘visarjan’ (immersion in the water). I’m slightly nervous about this one, because there are so many traditions and superstitions around performing all the rituals in the right way. Fingers crossed I get it all right!

 

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2 Comments

  1. June 17, 2014 / 6:17 pm

    Fascinating information on your culture, Raj! Love reading about the different holidays and how you celebrate them.

    • June 24, 2014 / 4:14 pm

      Thanks Dale – we certainly have a lot of festivals to celebrate!

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