Involve your children in feel-good activities this Deepavali season. It helps kindle their interest in age-old traditions

It’s that time of the year again — Dussehra celebrations are barely over and Deepavali is round the corner. The festive spirit that permeates the air is hard to ignore. And the revelry continues through Christmas and the New Year.

As we get ready to celebrate the victory of good over evil on Deepavali, we are filled with hope, and feel that the world is a happy place after all. The festival season is a time for togetherness and merriment. It’s also an opportunity to give your children a taste of tradition by involving them in interesting, inspiring and feel-good activities. Here are some simple activities that will help keep age-old traditions alive among the younger generation.

Talk tradition

“Living in a nuclear family, I feel it is my duty to celebrate every festival and perform all the rituals associated with it, so my children will always cherish these memories and carry on the tradition through their lives. I also want to impart knowledge about these festivals to my children, so I involve them in all the preparations,” says Seema Vats, a Mumbai-based homemaker.

Children can easily connect with stories. Who can better tell traditional tales than grandparents? Besides narrating legends about Durga Puja and Deepavali, they can give kids an imaginative account of how these festivals were celebrated in their times. “Traditional tales carry important messages that can serve as life lessons. They can indeed come to life when they are narrated in a manner that appeals to children,” says Shweta Kansara, counsellor and child psychologist in Mumbai. Parents can use puppets or toys to animate the characters in stories. Role playing is also an effective way of narration, where children can be involved. Costume dramas of favourite traditional stories are another way of sustaining children’s interest. Encourage them to watch animated movies on mythology or the epics. This can also be made a family activity where the child later narrates the stories to the family.

Spread joy

Festivals are about spreading love and happiness. Make your children appreciate what they have. Encourage their involvement in charitable activities. For instance, they could gift clothes, stationery and toys to homeless kids. Brightening up an old age home with a rangoli is a way of making children realise the importance of parents and elders in their lives. Spending time at an NGO that cares for the underprivileged and homeless could help make children compassionate and appreciative of what they have.

Get creative

Parents can involve children in cleaning and decorating the house and in creating rangolis, diyas or cards for friends and relatives. Children will not only acquire these creative skills, but also imbibe values such as generosity, kindness and cooperation. “These are not simply skills they can proudly display before family and friends but also those that will develop their motor and mental abilities. Drawing a rangoli, for instance, improves hand coordination and sensory stimulation,” says Prachi Desai, art and craft teacher in Mumbai. And children would relate to a traditional activity, if they could be given the freedom to draw their favourite cartoon character and colour it. The simple tradition of lighting diyas can be made more interactive by having kids paint their own diyas. Parents can explain to them the significance of lighting diyas. “You can help your kid organise a small Deepavali sale in your building with his friends where they can exhibit their handmade cards, diyas and lanterns,” says Shweta. Planning creative activities for children during a festival is a great way of getting the whole family to be part of the celebration. Take help from those little chefs at home while preparing simple sweets and savouries.

Shop for fun

The pleasurable part of the festival is shopping — be it for the house, buying gifts for friends and relatives or new clothes. Take children along on short shopping trips and allow them to help choose the gifts or clothes. Many charities have a special sale during the Deepavali season; families could shop at these for their festive needs. The exchange of gifts and sweets is a great tradition and an opportunity to bond with family and friends.

Community and environment

“Community and environment-friendly activities are important because they create awareness in children about social issues, and open their mind to the larger community they are part of,” feels Shweta. Teaching children the value of giving back to the community helps them become sensitive, sympathetic and generous. Environment awareness will teach them not to take their surroundings for granted, and make them work hard towards building a secure, safe future for themselves and those around them. Emphasise the importance of a Deepavali that’s free of fireworks and encourage children to spread this message among their schoolmates and friends. Teach children ways of creating treasure from trash. “We’ve got eco-friendly, bio-safe and child-safe materials for art and craft work. Moulding dough is non-toxic, there’s paper clay for making diyas and hand made paper for lanterns. We encourage children to make torans using dried flowers instead of paper and show children how to transform waste paper into a thing of art,” says Prachi.

Eco-consciousness and ethics, besides fun and laughter — that’s what festivals should mean for kids.