Category: kids and consumerism

The heart of a festival

The heart of a festival

Dear H and N,

Yesterday was Rakshabandhan – the day for sisters and brothers.

The popularly accepted version of the festival says that sisters should tie rakhis onto the wrists of their brothers and in return get a gift as well as a promise of lifelong protection. It’s a sweet tradition and when I was young I remember feeling envious of girls when they came to school the next day jangling their purses, telling us how much money they made. We never tied rakhis because we lacked that one key ingredient – the brother. And so we settled for mailing ours to our cousins.

Like most traditions have a way of becoming, this one too is a tad outdated. So when both of you came along we brought in some changes.

One: That you will both tie rakhis to each other.


Two: That there will be no gifts.

You understand the first one well enough. That thread is a pledge by both of you to help and support each other, to draw strength from each other and to be there when the other one needs you, always.

Why is it only the brother who should be ‘protecting’ his sister? Click To Tweet

‘That’s unfair’, I hear you protesting, H. And you’re right. N, you should be protesting too for the tradition implies you cannot even look after your own self let alone your brother. From the countless times you have come to his rescue, we all know how untrue that is.

Now for the second one – the one I find you resenting. You love gifts, I know and I’m sorry it disappoints you that there are none for you on Rakhi. I see the shine in your eyes when you see those rakshabandhan commercials. I love them too. I like the way they capture the festival – lit up homes, children running around in traditional clothes, dressed up adults and of course lavish gifts – elaborate gourmet chocolates and dazzling jewellery.

The sad part is that these ads lead you to believe that you must have all of that to make a festival complete. What they don’t tell you is that a celebration can be fun even without all those trappings, because they are just that – trappings, not the real thing. At the heart of every festival is something more than chocolates and jewellery. I’d much rather you focus on that core. I love a good celebration more than anyone else, you know that, well. But..

When the peripherals take over the core, become the core, it is time to take stock. Click To Tweet

When you are older and are making your own money, go ahead and get gifts for each other, get them without waiting for Rakshabandhan, and while you’re at it get some for me too.

For now, let’s just focus on the warm hugs and banter of the day. The way we get together with your cousin for a fun morning. Let our memories be of how you, H, never get used to the tika and how you protest and shake off the rice that falls onto your glasses. And when it’s your turn how you can never remember the correct finger to use or the correct hand for that matter, and the way you make a big long one for N, only to hear her complaining. And N, you remember how you have to hold H’s head up each time because he insists on looking down always?

Let’s store away in our memory the way you do “Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo” to decide which sweet you should pick for your brother after you tie his rakhi, the way you stuffed a whole big laddoo in his mouth so he couldn’t talk for a full minute. Oh and also the way he tried to aim and lob the laddoo at you when it was his turn.

Let’s remember all of that and the long chats after the ceremony, over hot cups of tea even as you, N, are bugging us all for ‘one more picture’.

It’s this – the warmth, the laughter, the teasing, the love – that are the core of the festival. Let’s not lose all of that in the clothes and the gifts.



Linking up with Deepa and  Amrita for #MondayMommyMoments.
Somedays I am a 9-year-old

Somedays I am a 9-year-old

I was out shopping for a birthday gift for N’s friend and I spotted an Elsa bag. What? You don’t know Elsa? Elsa from Frozen ? Don’t let N hear you say that, she wouldn’t think much of you.

N has been in love with Elsa for some time now. She sings Let it Go till the rest of us beg her to stop, sleeps with her Elsa quilt and an Elsa cushion and has made an Elsa collage that she’s stuck onto her cupboard. I have nothing against the Frozen girl. I loved the film as much as N. More importantly I shall be forever grateful to her for ridding (well almost) N of her Pink obsession. 

Blue-Green is the new pink, ever since Elsa came along.

Anyway so when I saw this slingbag I thought I just had to pick it up for N. But then something made me stop. I mean, why was getting all excited? Why on earth was I behaving like a nine-year-old? Wasn’t it my place to think whether N really needed the bag at all? Which of course, she didn’t.

If you’re a parent and have been in my place you know why we do it – why we go to Mc Donald’s and eat happy meal after happy meal and demolish our diets, why we buy Spideman bags and Chhota Bheem bed spreads, even when our kids aren’t begging for them – all for that smile on their faces.

And then there are days when we complain about the obsession and the cost and about how marketing companies make children a target of their strategies. They are simply doing their jobs, though some amount of social responsibility wouldn’t hurt. 

The kids are of course just being kids.

So then it has to be us who has to put on the brakes, even at the cost of that dear smile from our little one, for it is but transitory. I know I’m stating the obvious but I’m doing it because I need to hear me say it.

We have it tougher than our parents who had fewer choices and didn’t have to struggle with these dilemmas. I wish I could summon my mom’s classic don’t-be-silly look, the one she would have given me, had I asked for something like this – the best ever antidote to smart marketing strategies.

Meet me on Instagram @obsessivemom06

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