Across Northern India and worldwide throughout the Punjabi community, people are preparing for the spring festival of Vaisakhi (also spelled by some as Baisakhi). India, in history has always been an agricultural country; therefore many of the cultural and religious holidays revolve around the harvesting seasons. Traditionaly, Vaisakhi has been a “Thanksgiving” of sort for farming families, as the first crops of the year are harvested.
On Vaisakhi, Gurdwaras are decorated and hold kirtans, Sikhs visit and bathe in lakes or rivers before visiting local Gurdwaras. The days surrounding the celebrations community fairs and nagar kirtan processions are held, people gather to socialize and share festive foods. To the Sikh community, Vaisakhi has major religious importance as it marks the birth of the Khalsa. The Khalsa is the army of all initiated Sikhs represented by the five beloved-ones.
Growing up we would visit the Gurdwara the Sunday following Vaisakhi. I always find counting down and doing activities that revolve around a holiday/celebration gets my little one excited for what’s to come. Here are five ways you can celebrate and teach kids about Vaisakhi.
Story time is always a great opportunity to teach little ones about upcoming events and celebrations. Here are some great books that talk about the festival, self identification and Sikhism in general.
A Lions Mane by Navjot Kaur and My First Sikh Books by Parveen Kaur Dhillion
Plant a Garden
Children tend to be visual learners. Talking about farmers and the harvest festival will be easier to relate to once they experience a harvest of their own. Since Vaisakhi falls duringSpring time, it’s the perfect opportunity to start a mini garden. There are multiple benefits to gardening with children and they will have something to look forward to in the summer.
Make Karah Prashad
I remember anxiously waiting for the karah prashad (atte ka halwa) that would be passed around immediately following the prayer service at the Gurdwara. Years later, not much haschanged; atte ka halwa is still my favorite type of halwa and I still eagerly look forward to it when visiting the Gurudwara. Because of its filling and wholesome properties, atte ka halwa is often given to young children and nursing mothers. Here is an easy recipe you could make with your little ones.
In India, children fill the air with saffron color pataangs (kites). Have your little ones create their own kites and decorate them with paints, buttons and yarn. Weather permitting take them to the park and fly them. Here is a fun kite craft that they could decorate their room with. Download courtesy SpeechPeeps.
Make a Lion Mask
Singh, a popular Sikh last name means Lion. Singh was taken on by Sikhs in 1699, when Guru Gobind Singh instructed his followers to use Singh after their names on the auspicious day of Vaisakhi. His purpose was to create a brave community who would fight against all the odds of the society at that time. Make a lion face mask with your little ones and incorporate them during story time. Here is an easy tutorial for creating a colorful lion’s mask.