Rakhri is a pretty low key festival at our house. The kids do their Rakhri exchange, have some sweets, and then go on with the rest of their day. I do try to encourage them to make each other cards, or do something special for each other, but it’s really up to them to decide how they want to celebrate their special brothers & sisters day.

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This year my baby niece is visiting so we included her in the fun. Zara, Tanisha, and I made mini cupcakes for the festivities yesterday, and let’s just say frosting cupcakes with a three year old is just a bit of a challenge! The girls are super excited to share them with their Armaan Paji today.
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This post is brought to you by CIBC. All opinions are my own.

For years my family has attended the Nagar Kirtan (Vaisakhi Parade) in Vancouver or Surrey as a way of celebrating the birth of the Khalsa Panth – a key moment in Sikh history. Some years we’ve walked with the floats, others we’ve observed from the sidelines as the Granth Sahib makes its way through the city, but each year we’ve attended.surrey vaisakhi parade{Surrey Nagar Kirtan 2015}

The first time I remember attending the Nagar Kirtan and really understanding what was going on, I was probably about 8 (the same age as my daughter is now). I walked the entire parade route, and saw the Nagar Kirtan process up close. This experience prompted me to ask my parents lots of questions about Sikhi, and created a lifelong connection for me to my religion.

As a parent myself, I try to take my kids to the Surrey Nagar Kirtan/Vaisakhi Parade almost every year. We’ve never walked the parade route with them yet, but it’s something I hope to do with them one day. Just like everyone else, I struggle to keep my kids connected to the Punjabi culture, and teach them about Sikhi. Attending a community observance like the Nagar Kirtan is great conversation starter. It always gets my kids asking questions about, culture, religion, and Vaisakhi.commemorative vaisakhi coin cibc 2016

We are so blessed that right here in our city of Surrey there is such a large parade. Each year it seems to get just a little bigger, and the energy level of the sangat is phenomenal. This year CIBC has partnered with the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade as a sponsor. They will be setting up a tent which will include a special display of the commemorative Vaisakhi coin they’ve released this year. (Spoiler alert – there will be some special giveaways!) I love to see mainstream brands connecting with the community in an authentic way. It’s almost the same reason I take my kids to see the Nagar Kirtan – you feel a connection to your community and your religion just by attending.

This year the parade is on April 23rd, and will begin at 9:30 from the Gurudwara Sahib Dashmesh Darbar. If you’ve never attended a Nagar Kirtan before, I highly recommend going a little early and being present when the Granth Sahib is first brought out to its palki (chariot). There is sense of energy and spirituality at this moment that can’t be replicated.surrey vaisakhi parade 2

If you haven’t visited the Nagar Kirtan in a while, or are rusty on the principles of Sikhi (it happens to the best of us). Try to think of some talking points before you go. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Khalsa Sirjina Divas
Tell your kid’s the story of the day Guru Gobind Singh ji made the Khalsa. Discuss his decision to choose ‘panj pyare’ from different castes.  (reading notes here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalsa)

Khanda
Discuss the significance of the khanda with your kids. The khanda symbolizes our dual responsibility as Sikhs; to provide food and protection for the needy and oppressed. It is the visual representation of our slogan ‘Deg Teg Fateh’ – to victory, to charity, and arms.

We just ordered these commemorative pure silver coins from CIBC which have the khanda on one side, and the Ek Onkar symbol on the other. I’m planning to give these to the kids as “good luck charms” of sorts. I’d like them to have a visual reminder of their responsibility to Sikhi. I think it will make a great memory for them to refer to years down the road too.

3 Basics of Sikhi
We’ve found that trying to teach our kids a lot of different lessons and stories about religion can be overwhelming, but little lessons they can hold onto. In our family there are three basics of Sikhi that we try to instill:

Naam Japo: Remember Waheguru and meditate on his name
Kirat Karo: Work with determination and honesty, and use the talent’s Waheguru has given you
Vand Chhako: Share your wealth and participate in charitable causes

I hope that you will head out to the Surrey Nagar Kirtan with your family this weekend and create memories, and learning moments for your kids. Be sure to stop by the CIBC tent at booth located at 128th and 78th street and check out their Vaisakhi coin display where there will be special giveaways.  I will also be hanging out at the CIBC booth in the afternoon and would love for you to stop by and say hi. If you miss me, make sure to snap a pic and share it with me on Twitter or Instagram, I’d love to see you in your Vaisakhi best!

Images by: Aziz Dhamani

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April the 13th marks the birth of the Khalsa, and the celebration of a New Year for farmers in Northern India – a day of double celebration for Sikh families with an agriculture background (like mine). I’ve often joked with friends that I’m “just a farmer’s daughter, but it’s an expression I really take to heart.traditional punjabi thali{A traditional Punjabi thali perfect for my Vaisakhi dinner table!}

Both my father and mother’s families in India were involved in agriculture. They grew the food they ate on their own land, and sold the excess. They survived and thrived by working hard on their farms and growing everything from wheat, corn, and sugarcane, to cotton pods which would be spun into yarn.

Many Punjabi farmers immigrated to Canada from the early to mid-1900s and worked as labour on farms, in lumber mills, and on construction projects. These pioneers paved the way for the thousands of immigrants that would come to Canada from the 60s – 90s and once again work in the farms of Canada. I take great pride in being a farmer’s daughter, and the granddaughter of a simple man from Punjab who worked the cranberry, strawberry, and blueberry fields of BC when he immigrated here in the early 1980s.punjabi thali

For me food keeps people connected to their culture, and is a very important part of our legacy. My mother often tells stories about how hard it was to find dal and atta anywhere in Victoria when she first moved to Canada in 1974. For weeks on end she survived on peanut butter and toast until another family member told her you could buy lentils at an Italian grocery store nearly an hour away in Nanaimo. It’s hard for me to even imagine that there was a time when it was so hard to source the ingredients to make a traditional Punjabi meal, when there is an abundance of options at a mainstream grocer like Save-On-Foods these days. authentic punjabi dinner

punjabi thali pink chai livingOver the last two weeks I’ve shared a number of authentic, homestyle recipes you could cook for a Vaisakhi dinner tonight. However, I’ve also learned over my years as a food writer, that cooking from scratch is important, but not as important as connecting over the dinner table. If you are short on time or unsure of your skills in the kitchen, visit your local Save-On-Foods and pick up some ready to go Indian from the grocery aisles or freezer section and serve up a traditional meal tonight or on the weekend. punjabi thali

While you are at it, open a discussion with your kids about what Vaisakhi means to you. At our house we’ll discuss the religious significance, but we’ll also talk about gratitude. Gratitude for our forefathers, our parents that made the trek across the oceans to Canada and left behind their comfortable lives to build new opportunities for us, and a big thank you for the farmers here in Canada that grow the food we eat.

And of course, because it’s Vaisakhi and we are Punjabi; we’ll get dressed up, play some dhol beats, and party all night long (or until 30 minutes after bedtime because we are responsible Canadian parents too).

This series was brought to you in partnership with Save-On-Foods. Visit your local location for all your South Asian grocery needs, and be sure to share any special finds with me! All opinions are my own.

 

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vaisakhi glitter artvaisakhi glitter art

I’m not sure if it’s just my kids, or if it’s a universal thing with little ones, but a mere mention of an art project using glitter causing them to start beaming. So, when I was planning this year’s Vaisakhi projects/lessons (I’m big on teaching them about culture in sneaky ways), I knew that I wanted to do something with glitter.

Since we’ve been debating the perfect place to hang the beautiful Golden Temple picture you see above (which was a gift from a friend), I thought it might be nice to create a secondary print to go with it and create some weight on the wall. (If that expression makes sense?) For my wall I went with the symbol for Ek Onkar which means ‘there is one god’. Of course the kids had questions about what the symbol means and I was more than happy to talk about it!

vaisakhi gliltter art

We also made a secondary art print with the words Chardi Kala – which is another Sikh philosophy.

Chardi Kala is a concept in Sikhism that refers to a mental state of optimism and joy. Sikhs are ideally expected to be in this positive state of mind as a sign of their contentment with the will of God, even during the times of adversity.

You can easily make this project at any time of the year with any words or images that you choose, but it’s a fun way to get your kids talking about Sikhi and learning the story of Vaisakhi too! As a bonus, you can frame your artwork and create a beautiful and spiritual art wall if you want. 

How to make Vaisakhi Glitter Art

Supplies:
Print out of your choice of quote or image
Liquid glue
Thin paintbrush
Glitterchardi kalla, vaisakhi activities for kids
vaisakhi activities for kidsStart by tracing over the letters on your quote with liquid glue using a thin paint brush. You don’t want the glue to dry before you spread the glitter, so it’s best to work in sections. I did one or two letters at a time.vaisakhi kids activities, vaisakhi artOnce you are happy with the glue, cover the area with fine glitter. You want to dump glitter generously so the entire letter gets covered. It is pretty hard to go back and get spots that are missed, so be liberal with the glue and glitter. Let the glitter sit for 2-3 minutes and then shake the excess off onto a plate or piece of paper so you can use it again for the next section. vaisakhi activities for kidsIf you decide to use two different colours for your project, try to cover up one colour with a napkin before starting a new colour. This prevents them from getting mixed together.

This project isn’t difficult, but it does require a little patience. If you are having your kids do this activity, consider printing a thicker larger image like the Ek Onkar you see above for them to work with. The cursive font I used for the second print was a bit tricky to work with!

vaisakhi glitter artOnce your image is complete take outside, shake off any excess glitter, and then use a q-tip to clean up anything that is left. In my experience the glitter won’t come off unless you try to scrape it off at this point.

I hope you enjoy this project and have a very Happy Vaisakhi!

Images by: Aziz Dhamani

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Happy Vaisakhi everyone! Vaisakhi is celebrated throughout Punjab and is of particular importance to Sikhs, as it marks the birth of the Khalsa. Sikhs around the world have brought the tradition of celebrating this auspicious day with a Nagar Kirtan (community procession) parade to various cities, and my city Surrey BC, hosts one of the largest parades in the world each year.vasakhi parade surrey{A stunning image from last year’s Surrey Nagar Kirtan}

I’m really excited to share that, this year I’ve teamed up with Tourism Surrey to help cover this event on April 18th, and show the diversity and culture of our city to their social media followers. The team at Tourism Surrrey has profiled me on their blog (so cool!), and this Saturday, you can follow their social feeds to see the Surrey Nagar Kirtan through my eyes. This has got to be one of my favourite blog partnerships ever. 

Since we aren’t really celebrating Vaisakhi until Saturday, I still wanted to cook something that has a Vaisakhi feel to it today, so I’m sharing my  Zarda recipe. Zarda is also known as meethe chawal or sweet rice, and is a traditional dish served on celebratory occasions.  Made with lots of ghee and sugar, as all good Punjabi sweet treats are, plus the addition of the vibrant orange colour makes this a perfect Vaisakhi snack. zarda recipe vaisakhi

I do feel I have to give you a little disclosure here. Zarda is almost always made with a good dose of cloves (10-12 in this size serving), but I do not really like the taste of whole cloves so I’ve left them out. Also, a traditional Zarda recipe is a 1-1-1 ratio of milk, rice, and sugar, however, you can take the sugar down a notch if you like and it will still work. So, let’s get cooking!

Zarda Recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup rice
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
3-4 cardamom pods crushed
pinch of saffron
pinch of kesri (yellow/orange) food colouring
2-3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
10-12 cashews chopped
10-12 almonds chopped
1-2 tbs raisins zarda recipe

Directions:

Start by soaking the rice in water for about 30 minutes and then strain it out. Bring 4-5 cups of water to boil in a pan, and add the strained rice. Cook for 5 minutes only. You want the rice to be a little soft but definitely not cooked through. Strain the rice and add a tablespoon of ghee to it, and mix well. This is optional, but I like to spread the rice out on a cookie sheet at this time so it stays nicely separated.zarda recipezarda recipe

Mix the milk, yellow food colouring, saffron, and sugar in a bowl, and keep it aside for the next step.zarda recipezarda recipe

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of ghee in a pan and add the chopped nuts and raisins. Fry these items for 3-4 minutes on medium heat until they are golden brown, and then add cardamom seeds. (If you were adding cloves you would add them here)

zarda recipezarda recipezarda recipeAdd the milk mixture to the nuts and bring to a boil. Drop the heat down to a simmer and then add in the rice. Cover and cook on low heat for 10-12 minutes.zarda recipe

Once the rice is done you can fluff it with a fork and serve it hot or at room temperature. I for one don’t like zarda when it’s cold, but I’ve seen it served that way.

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