South Asian parents in Canada are often on a hunt to find new and innovative ways to teach their kids about their homeland and its rich culture. Diksha pal Narayan is one such parent. When she was unable to find any books about Indian festivals to which her son could relate, she decided to take matters into her own hands, literally.
What started as Narayan’s attempt to introduce various South Asian cultures and traditions to her son, has now become a series of four books catering to the South Asian diaspora across the globe.
“When I looked around, all I could find are books from South Asia, and the South Asian books don’t represent our North American children out here,’ Narayan said.
“They’re wonderful books, no doubt about it, but they don’t lead the lives that our Canadian children lead.”
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Narayan’s first book, “Ved and friends celebrate Dussehra and Diwali,” talks about all the events that lead to Diwali and also captures how this festival is celebrated in North America.
“So it’s divided into three sections: the first section is how North American children out here celebrate Diwali,” Narayan said.
“We make it easy for parents, but you don’t have to do everything that has been taught to you. You can make up your own new traditions and do it yourself.”
“When I looked around all I could find were books from South Asia, but these books didn’t represent North American children out here,” said author, Diksha Pal Narayan. @VedAndFriends #Diwali #inclusion #Diversity #ChildrensBooks #canada #SouthAsian pic.twitter.com/nIYIasrbX8
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“The second part talks about the legends. Who is the Durga (Hindu Goddess)? who is Shri ram (one of the Hindu Gods)? who is Narkasur (demon in Hindu mythology)? And in the third section we have all our DIYs: how to make a Raavan (antagonist in the Hindu epic Ramayana), how to make the coconut laddus, because it’s very important that if we want to teach our children, our festivals and our heritage, we have to do it with them.”
“I made a samosa stand in one of my stories, And (talked about) how grandparents helped make a samosa stand and sell samosas.”
“So, normalizing south Asian things that we do and the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren was explored in Nono Nana.”
According to Narayan, her mission to “make culture cool,” is what this book series is all about, as it encourages children to add their own spin on old traditions.
“My favorite part of Diwali is all the crafts and listening to stories,” she said.
“We make Raavans, ram hats and others like Diwali rocks.”
“Since (many) Canadians are immigrants, we might have come here three years ago or we might have come here like 50 years ago. We’ve all come here from somewhere else. So it’s important for us to keep our heritage alive because that tells us who we are and where we come from and what our background or our history is.”