Category Archives: Culture

Lei Day in Hawaii – What is it about?

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Lei Day – picture source hawaii home

Did you know today, May 1st, is celebrated as Lei Day in Hawaii? No one in this household did!

I read about it being Lei day today on the internet, and got my boys to search about what it meant. And within minutes, they came back with some facts.

So just in case, you are like me, and want to know more about it, here are a few facts.

History of Lei

Leis are one of the most recognizable symbols of Hawaii.

The lei custom was introduced to the islands by the early Polynesian travelers. Wearing these was way of distinguishing oneself from the others. They made these lei not just with Orchids, Plumeria and other blooms but also with the available shells, bones, seeds, leaves and feathers. Use of nuts in the lei was restricted to the royalty.

Today, lei embodies the spirit of aloha — a welcoming embrace that comes with a colorful garland of fresh flowers. Lei are also worn important occasions like births, deaths, victories, religious ceremonies and graduations.

The Origin of ‘Lei Day’

Lei captures the spirit of the Hawaii islands: its colors, flowers, fragrance and aloha.

Probably that was in his mind when in 1928 writer and poet Don Blading wrote an article about marking a day that centered around the Hawaiian custom of making and wearing lei.

Another writer Grace Tower Warren came up with the idea of celebrating it on May Day, May 1. She also coined the phrase “May Day is Lei Day.” Thus, the first Lei day was celebrated on May 1, 1928, and people in Honolulu were encouraged to wear lei. In 1929, Lei Day became an official holiday, and the tradition continues, interrupted only during World War II.

Celebration of Lei Day

Many festivities are held across the island to mark this special day. Festivities include Hawaiin music, Hula as well as lei-making demonstrations. These festivals are free to public, local as well as visitors and the transcend generations. Continue reading

Holi: Festival of Colors

With its rich traditional and cultural heritage, Indians are bound to be celebrating some festival every month or so. One such festival is Holi, a fun, colorful and inclusive festival.

If someone was to ask me, to name my favorite festival, it would be Holi without any doubt. I have lovely childhood memories of playing Holi and my parents and grandparents telling me about the various Holi stories and traditions. And now as a parent myself, I love passing on these stories and traditions to my boys.

Mythological Significance

  • Legend of Prahlad

Legend of Holika, Prahlad and Hrinakashyap

Pic courtesy: Google Images

There are myriad legends associated with Holi, the most popular one is the legend of Prahlad and Hiranyakashyap.

Legend has it that Hiranyakashyap was a powerful Asura (demon) king and had gained a boon of immortality. He wanted to be worshipped by all. But his own son Prahlad was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. This infuriated Hiranyakashyap. He tried to kill his own son by many cruel means but was unsuccessful. Finally, he sought the help of his evil sister ‘Holika’. Holika had a cloak which made her immune to injury from fire. She tricked Prahlad into entering a bonfire with her. As the fire roared, the cloak slipped from Holika’s shoulder to Prahlad’s. Holika got burnt to death, while Prahlad came out of it unscathed. Thus, started the ritual of Holika Dahan, Holika bonfire, signifying victory of good over evil.

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This Diverse World: AFRICA


BOOKS WITH AFRICAN CHARACTERS

Given below is a list of books with African characters. I have tried to include books which would give a glimpse into different African cultural backgrounds.

Please use your own discretion when selecting the book for your  kid/family.

I have listed the name of the country next to the book link, either the main character lives in that country or has links to it.

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This diverse world

Every year our family of 4 travels to India to meet our extended family and we spend about a month there. So, my elementary school going boys have been exposed to 2 different cultures extensively. We have also travelled to a few more countries and they have noticed, talked about and compared the difference in food, homes, appearances and lifestyles. But there is so much more to explore, so much more to learn in this diverse world!

One of the many boons of internet and access to books/local libraries is that we can learn about different countries  and its culture sitting at home. And this is exactly what we plan to do in the coming weeks.

My last post has the timeline that I plan to follow.

Here are a few sites/links that I have searched that will help in making a start to this learning process.

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Learning about the diversity in the world

childern of the world.jpg

Our city has in the last couple of years started holding Beer Gardens over weekends. At one such event a friend, who also happens to be a teacher, suggested reading the book ‘Home of the Brave’ by Katherine Applegate.

And from there our conversation shifted to how many of our kids are still totally oblivious to or haven’t been exposed to what life is for people living in other parts of the world. In the same week I also happened to read this very interesting articleHow Cross-Racial Scenes in Picture Books Build Acceptance.

These thoughts lingered in my mind for days and I came up with a plan through which our family will collectively try learning more about the world that we live in.

It is important that kids learn, understand and respect the diverse world in which they live, and only will they be well-rounded individuals.

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