Neem Peepal Banyan Lyrics for Children

Inspired by Neem Peepal Banyan from Karadi Tales, my wife wrote the below poem for O +ve and B +ve. It is similar to My Name is Madhavi adaptation.

 

We use the below rhyme to introduce the trees, the parts, the benefits to the girls. The lyrics also introduce names of the trees in Hindi and Telugu, along with English.

 

Neem, Peepal, Banyan

Coconut, Mango, Banana

Tamarind, Gulmohar

Eucalyptus, Ashoka.

 

Trees big, trees small

Trees large, trees tall

Trees are home for birds and bees

Trees dance and sway in the breeze.

 

Babul, Ber, Bakul

Kadamb, Jamun, Badam

Mahua, Kathal

Palash, Kokum.

 

Roots, trunk and the crown

Branches, leaves and bark that is brown

Different parts of the tree

Its nature’s wonder – we agree!

 

Bilva, Usiri, Eetha

Thangedu, Thati, Thumma

Chandanam, Kanuga

Velagakaya, Nimma.

 

Tree bower is nice to lie down

Trees are cool to climb on

Trees are good to hug and bond

Trees are great to play around.

 

Bamboo, Laburnum, Copper pod

Pine, Teak, Casuarina,

African Tulip, Coralwood

Tree of Gold, Jacaranda.

 

Trees fulfil our every need

Trees do us a great deed

With our future, we ought to share

Trees, which are friends rare!

 

So, let’s plant trees everywhere

So, let’s plant trees everywhere…

 

 

Rangoli Making With Kids: Fun and Learning

Rangoli making has been an all-time favourite activity for O +ve and B +ve. They were introduced to this activity when they were about 15 months old. Even today, their fascination with it continues unabated. When I see them involved in rangoli making today and look back at how they have always been engrossed in the past, I realize how important this activity has been for them.

For both fun and learning, this colourful activity has been a regular in the everyday activities of our twin daughters.

Material

The girls were first introduced to making rangolis with a variety of flours, pulses, grains, semolina and rock salt. Since then we have explored making rangoli with a range of material including powder colours readily available in the market.

They enjoy making rangolis with mud, sand and gerua. Who doesn’t like messy muddy art, isn’t it? Their collections of petals, leaves, twigs, branches from their nature walks and park trips have been put to good use by making rangolis. The pebbles and stones from their stones collection have been arranged creatively to make interesting patterns. They have also used vegetable and fruit peels, bits of paper and pieces cut from cardboard boxes for rangoli making.

Both the girls have understood that it is their own imagination which when applied to any material that makes their rangolis. They absolutely take delight in this simple art form.

Motor skills

Rangoli making has had a significant role to play in the development of gross motor, fine motor and hand-eye coordination of the girls. One of the girls had an issue with her pincer grip. The doctor advised a number of exercises. We realized that making rangolis also offered similar opportunities to work on the same.

Takeaways

We realized that rangoli gives a live, interactive and experiential three-dimensional learning environment. It is pretty much cost effective and also a very inclusive art form.

Be it colours, shapes, sizes, alphabets, numbers, counting, comparison, proportions – most of these are amenable to learning from rangoli making. Mixing colours, colour combinations, powder colours, wet colours, characteristics of various colouring/filling materials, canvases and accessories – there is so much to a humble rangoli. We have been making efforts to introduce festivals, celebrations, region-specific attributes and related cultural aspects through rangolis.

Colourful Imagination

The girls love their colouring and painting. Along with these, they also love bringing to life their imaginations through their rangolis.

An open-ended rangoli making exercise really stretches them hard. They know what they want to make and to convert their ideas into a three-dimensional canvass is an interesting challenge for their age.

It is only the space that is a finite and regulated attribute when they begin making their rangolis. Once into it, they know no restrictions or limitations, no specific set patterns too. They have tried their hand at making everything – clouds, sun, moon, stars, plants, flowers, mountains, hills, grass, sea, beach, fruits, vegetables, body parts, vehicles, roads, house, deer, butterfly, caterpillar, eggs, even the regular muggus and kolams.

The output – the big picture is for all to see. We cannot make out much of their abstract art but they patiently take us through their works of art. It is this detailing that we love to hear from our girls. In their rangoli, a cloud is not just a cloud, it is either a black coloured cloud which is just about to burst into rain or a cloud which is very big and is hiding the sun behind it. B +ve drew a flower with four petals with some space left out which could have easily fit another petal. When asked as to why space was empty, she said with all seriousness that it is a flower which is getting dried up and one of its petals has just fallen down. O +ve made an apple, complete with worms and all.

Tidying up

This facet is also as important as all the other aspects. Rangoli making with children will invariably lead to lots and lots of mess and chaos.

The girls have understood that they also need to pick after themselves courtesy this activity. They surely do not do it all the time, given their age. However, they know that all the things that come out for their rangoli making have to also go back to their respective places.

Summing Up

To be honest, none of the above things occurred to us or were done in a planned manner with a given purpose. Just that today, when I see my daughters engaged in rangoli making, I realize how important it has been to their growing up years.

Maybe, it could have been more helpful to get the full benefits of rangoli making to our daughters if we were more structured in our approach. There are just too many benefits of rangoli making for children without any apparent downsides.

Our children are enjoying their rangoli making. Do share your views about this often overlooked and unnoticed activity and its practical application for children.

My Daughter is Dark Skinned. I Fear for Her in Fair & Lovely Obsessed India

We have twin daughters – B +ve and O +ve, they are non-identical. It so happens that one of them is dark skinned and one of them has a lighter complexion.

The girl who is dark is getting darker by the day and I fear for her, fear for her self-belief, fear for her confidence, fear for her capacity to stand for what she is / will be, fear for her own self. I fear for her for I know the obsession with Fair & Lovely in India.

The first attention

I have seen this happening. I have seen this happening time and again. And, I know that I will keep seeing this happening time and again.

Be it family members or strangers, not all though, the attention first goes to the girl with a fair complexion. This cannot be an occurrence of chance. Of course, the girl with a dark complexion also gets noticed and gets spoken to, but with a time lag vis-a-vis her sister.

Both the girls are equally active, energetic and talkative. Yet the perceptible difference in getting the first attention from people around. It is something similar to gender stereotypes, intrinsic to us.

Both the girls are unaware of this at their age. I dread the moment when they will understand who is getting noticed and spoken to first.

The story books, toys, TV

My wife and I used to be big fans of Amar Chitra Katha. While reading the mythological stories, one of the daughters raised a query – Why are demons all dark skinned? Why are devas all fair skinned?

My wife and I never liked any dolls and the perception that girls play with dolls. Our daughters have been a gifted number of Barbie and other dolls, all fair. I read that Barbie also happens to be dark, never saw it in real life, though.

The protagonists in Indian TV serials and series are all fair skinned – women, men and children. Additionally, we never know when the advertisement for Fair & Lovely will pop up.

The result – the story books which differentiate between the skin colour, the toys which are not skin colour agnostic and the TV have been banished from our home.

The formal environment

Our daughters do not go to any formal environment of learning – not yet. There are a host of reasons why they do not go. One of the most inconsequential reasons on why they do not go is that one of my daughters has dark skin.

This is an utterly crazy reason and I know it. For, I know that once the girls start going to a formal setting, someone, somewhere, somehow, is going to say that one of the girls is dark – “kali” and I dread this moment.

Even as I write this, it brings tears to my eyes how I am going to face my daughter who has been commented on about her dark skin.

The positive advice

I am in doldrums on how to deal with this myself. So, I was searching on the internet about self-help. I found advice like – place images of beautiful dark-skinned women prominently in one’s home, buy black dolls, for 3 to 6-year-olds: Make frequent remarks, such as “my beautiful baby,” and create stories about beautiful dark children who are smart, kind, etc. (These points are from this site).

On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with any of these suggestions. They are well-meaning. I should actually be doing it myself.

Just that I am not able to. It is my inability to accept that I need to mention/get into a discussion with my daughter who is four and a-half-year-old about her skin colour.

I am a coward

I have never been able to call any family member, friend, acquaintance, stranger who I feel is differentiating between my daughters basis their skin colour.

I am running away from the reality of the need to tell my daughter that she is dark skinned and that she will be biased against.

I am unable to prepare my daughter for the country she is going to face even after knowing that I need to do it.

I hate the society which discriminates and I know that I have been and am a part of the same society.

I do not know how to deal with this. I am failing my daughter.

Indian Mythological Stories for Kids and Hard Lessons

We have faced challenges to find resources to better introduce Indian mythological stories to our twin daughters. I have written about this in introducing Hindu mythology to children.

It occurred to us that Surendrapuri could be a nice option for familiarizing Indian mythological stories to B +ve and O +ve. Surendrapuri terms itself as India’s first mythological theme park. It is a complete spiritual and mythological museum, where one can relive the ancient Indian epics. (Source: Surendrapuri Website).

We visited Surendrapuri on 22nd March 2019. It was a good experience for the girls to see the beautiful sculptures and statues depicting the stories that they love listening about. However, for us, the questions persisted that have been lingering in our minds and became even more puzzling.

Violence

This has been a troubling factor for my wife and me in Indian mythological stories. Invariably, there will be demons and there will be Gods and Goddesses going after these demons and killing them. I understand that the concept of Good wins over Evil has to be explained to children. However, there can be different ways to interpret and present this aspect rather than the gory visual depiction.

Surendrapuri was no different in this aspect. There were a number of statues showing Goddesses holding a skull of the demon in one of their multiple hands. Invariably, the girls would ask about the statue and what the Goddess was holding in one of her hands and the other hands, which would predominantly be an assortment of weapons.

At least for me, it is a complicated affair to explain these portrayals to four and half-year-olds.

Representation of women in Indian mythological stories

Either a woman will be a Goddess hunting down demons or it will be Goddess Lakshmi sitting at the feet of Lord Vishnu. There is nowhere in between for the women in Indian mythological stories.

Girls know about the childhood stories of Rama and Krishna. However, apart from her birth, there are no stories available for Sita. Similarly, after Krishna leaves Vrindavan, Radha gets left out from the narrative. All the Goddesses – Kali, Durga, Saraswati, Lakshmi have no childhood stories and they directly enter the story as adults. The same goes for Draupadi, apart from her birth story.

Girls wanted to know more about the female characters at Surendrapuri. It was not possible as Surendrapuri, of course, made no changes to the age-old narrative of Indian mythological stories.

Girls get introduced to gender stereotypes in the Indian context as an add-on to Indian mythological stories. Their initiation to this impression continued at Surendrapuri.

Mahabharata

We skipped the entire portion at Surendrapuri for Mahabharata. I agree that Mahabharata has lots of application in our practical life but I am unable to decide on the age to introduce it to our daughters.

Right from the birth of Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidur to birth of Kauravas and Pandavas to Duryodhana trying to poison Bhima even as kids, I am not able to understand how to introduce it to children. For that matter, even the story of Ekalavya.

Surendrapuri presents all the events of Mahabharata, but we were not up to the mark to do justice to it.

The flowing Ganga, Bakasura, Aghasura

This was one aspect of experiential mythology that got the imagination of O +ve and B +ve going full steam at Surendrapuri.

They have put clean water in a closed space to depict Ganga originating from Kailas. The girls had a grand time splashing in the water pool and they understood the concept of Ganga.

Similarly, Surendrapuri has walk-in sculptures of Bakasura, Aghasura, the Snake Kingdom of Vasuki and few others. This was nice to experience first-hand for the girls. It is clear that whenever the girls have a sensorial experience with their own selves, they tend to remember for a long time.

The missing personal bond / connect with the Gods and Goddesses

For whatever reason, the Indian Gods and Goddesses are not allowed to mingle freely with their worshippers, leave aside taking a snap with their deities. Surendrapuri is no exception in this regard.

I felt that along with larger than life sculptures and statues of Gods and Goddesses if Surendrapuri could have some statues with whom the children could have their snaps and touch them, it would have been a memory of extended time for them.

Sum Up

Surendrapuri, as a concept, has been nicely executed. It is a worthwhile experience to see the stories in a visual form of sculptures and statues.

Surendrapuri did not answer our conceptual doubts, some of them mentioned above, about introducing Indian mythological stories to our daughters.

The search continues for another account of Indian mythological stories.