Navaratri starts on Monday, 26th September 2022. There are many ways of celebrating Navaratri. During Durga Puja, Dandiya, or Garba celebrations (depending on where you live), don’t forget to teach kids about the significance of the events by organizing storytelling, quiz competitions, art contests, etc. Parents with young kids (in the southern states) should seriously think about starting a Bommala Koluvu/golu/Gombe Habba in their homes.
Navaratri is typically an exciting time for kids. They get holidays from school, and having the doll display at home is an excellent way to get them occupied productively without being glued to gadgets.
They can lovingly collect dolls of gods, goddesses, and themed sets like Dashavatara, Ashtalakshmi, Ramayana sets, etc. There’s much to be learned and enjoyed by doing. No amount of teaching or storytelling can compete with the sheer joy of doing for a young child. For example, the child learns by arranging the avatars in the correct sequence.
If you live in an apartment complex, you can give awards for best lighting, arrangement, design, music, etc. Kids can use their imaginations to build around a theme that interests them. Many kids make zoos, playgrounds, and temple roads. You can get soil, plant some seeds, and have a lovely jungle theme when the seeds start to sprout. This will help kids develop planning, layout, and design skills and give them the thrill of building things with their hands.
Kids can dress in traditional finery and call their friends over along with families. It’s an excellent way to form a community with exciting activities planned. Children can visit one another’s houses and learn to offer guests kumkum/tambulam, betel leaves, and fruits. They can also plan on giving something (goodie bags) to all the children who come to their house. These days there are many choices in picking gifts for kids. Here are some ideas:
- Books that teach traditions like Why Do We?
- Books on gods and goddesses from sources like pracharam.in
- Fun storybooks for children featuring characters with traditional names, themes, and behaviors. An example is Venkat and Friends.
- Blocks and board games from Indic Bricks or Coolture Designs
- Ragdolls from Tringrahi. They are available by order on Instagram, WhatsApp, and other sources. These dolls are often available in pairs like Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama, or Shiva-Parvati.
- Choose traditional earrings, jewellery for girls, and a traditional colourful kurta for boys.
- Small dolls that they can use in their Kolu next year.Every day of Navaratri is associated with a colour. To get children interested in celebrations, encourage them to dress in the day’s color. Once kids start taking an interest, you can get into more traditional celebrations like getting them to sing Devi Kritis or learning Durga Saptashati/Lalitha Sahasranama.Get kids involved in making rangoli in front of the dolls every day. They can fill it with colors and flower petals. Let them help prepare the naivedyam. Sundal (with Kala chana or garbanzo beans) can easily be prepared by kids. They will feel proud when guests praise their cooking. This is a great way to get them interested in traditional dishes rather than always craving pizza. Talk to kids about how the dolls symbolize the entire universe. We celebrate the macrocosm by worshipping it in the microcosm. Play Soundarya Lahiri and Lalitha Sahasranama every day. The doll sets can be used to tell many stories from itihasas and Puranas.With so many benefits of just starting a Kolu at home, it is worth the extra effort for parents. The payoff is a rooted child who knows much about Hindu culture and is excited about celebrating Hindu festivals.
(This article was first published on Hindu Parenting on September 24, 2022 and has been republished here in full)