We are always learning in life, especially at a young age. For me, I really enjoyed learning about my roots, culture, family rituals, and practices. Eventually, there came a time when I felt like I now had that responsibility to pass on everything I was taught and enjoyed. When my niece was born (my eyes are teary just thinking about it) I instantly felt that responsibility. I knew that I was now responsible for many things but most importantly to pass down our culture to her.
My niece, Reba, is now 2 years and 8 months old and its truly amazing to see how she’s so smart and observant and has a curious little sweet heart. And I started to introduce her to our culture and tradition, I kept wanting to do more because of how much she enjoyed every bit of it. The unfortunate part is that we have a long-distance relationship since she lives in Chicago with her dad (my brother), Suman, and her mom (sis-in-law), Elizabeth. However, since the time Reba has come into our lives, we try to see her every other month or so.
This year, Suman told me he was taking Reba to a Holi event (marking the arrival of spring and good over evil, etc.) and I was so excited for her since she’s now old enough to partake and fully enjoy the experience. But as the weekend of Holi arrived, Reba came down with a horrible double ear infection and couldn’t go. I immediately thought how could I fix this situation and it came to me that my parents, husband, and I were actually visiting them the following weekend and that I should bring Holi to her! So I started to think of ways for her to have a day with her family and do fun activities to celebrate Holi. I tried to do activities that she would enjoy and that is part of her day-to-day schedule.
First, was to shower, pick out our fancy Indian clothes for Holi and then try to recite the “Vakratunda Makaya” mantra with our favorite Ganesha by Modi Toys. We then learned and played with tower blocks from Jai Jai Hooray called “The Goddess Power of Tower,” which teaches Reba about the different Hindu Goddesses and their super powers!
My hubby, Binny, and I were also able to put up some décor for Reba’s room that we bought from our India trip together (we all went to India and it was so much fun!). Reba decided where the décor would go up in her room. The next activities included reading some fun cultural books like “10 Noisy Rickshaws” by Desi Babies and henna tattoos from Amazon (let’s be real here, actual henna would be a hot mess). Finally, we set up the front yard with a beautiful plate of Holi powder of vibrant colors (also from Jai Jai Hooray, which they made safe for children), put on some tunes and all seven of us got right into the spirit of Holi. We rubbed each other’s faces with the Holi powder and Reba loved this so much, as she was able to get the powder on all of us (and of course, we did the same to her!).
Reba enjoyed her day so much that I felt I was sharing a moment of pure joy with another human with whom I’m so connected. These moments make me so happy and I want Reba to continuously have positive experiences in her life and learn more about herself every day. And with every day, I know my responsibility to guide and empower her increases. So to see all these companies, which have been started by South Asian women, makes my experiences with Reba even more meaningful.
These companies, like Modi Toys, Desi Babies, and Jai Jai Horray are empowering people, like me and Reba, to only do good in this world of ours, and to be wiser and more inclusive in the future to come.