Vaisakhi – For Sikh Children

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As a very proud Masi, I often find myself wondering how we can make events such as Vaisakhi, more meaningful for the next generation. Why is it that we exchange cards and gifts during Christmas, and yet for Vaisakhi, a Facebook status update suffices? While I fully support children exploring and participating in global celebrations, I think it is just as important (perhaps more so) that Sikh children are raised celebrating Vaisakhi in a similarly joyful way. For Sikhs living in the diaspora, Vaisakhi is often associated with nagar kirtans, melas, and gurdwara visits. This is a great way for children to celebrate the occasion with the community, however, I am not sure the event really resonates with them.

For example, did you know about the significance of kite flying during Vaisakhi? The spring air of Vaisakh makes kite flying a popular pass time. A kite is called a Patang or Guddi Manjha in Panjab. The wood and bamboo roll on which the string is wound iscalled a Charkhadi. Children often give their kites a special name to reflect their personal designs such as: Pari (fairy), Chand Mama (man-in-the-moon/uncle moon), ShakkarPara (a panjabi sweet). Poetry may also be written in Panjabi on the Patang to send messages to a special person up on the roof. How fun would it be to have kite flying events for Sikh children? They could invite their non-Sikh friends and use it as a way to share their heritage. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important not to commercialize historical occasions – however, we have to be willing to celebrate our history so that it is meaningful.

So I’m curious – what does Vaisakhi mean to you and how do you celebrate it? How would you like your children, your nieces or nephews to remember Vaisakhi? Or if you are a parent, how do you make Vaisakhi meaningful for your children?

Here is a useful document for parents and educators, describing ways to celebrate Vaisakhi with children.Happy Vaisakhi!

Countdown to Vaisakhi (pdf)

Courtesy: The Langar Hall blog

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