I can confidently say celebrating Diwali at our Playcentre with our young children was a hit.
The first Monday session we draped sari from our rafters, hung golden bells across the entrance, affixed stunning postcards by artist Indra Sharma of Hindu gods and goddesses (of course featuring Lakshmi).
Chanchal kindly brought in saris for many to be wrapped in, made a rangoli at the collage table with vibrant flower petals and contributed some Indian kai for morning tea which was scoffed most enthusiastically by the Mums and Dads.
The following week parents brought in the ingredients for chapati (Indian bread) and further pockets of flowers.
Chanchal set up a circular table outside and children gathered to measure their flour, sift, add water to it, stir, mix, knead and rolling pin their chapati breads.
I was delighted to see that it’s human instinct (rather than female work) to make food as boys and girls both huddled round making.
Seeing Chanchal’s adult hands working beside and against such little hands of the children was a beautiful sight.
I felt the children loved the sensory experience of feeling the wholemeal flour, tasting it, watching how the texture and shape changed as water was introduced, and then massaging it with their palms into balls that could be rolled out.
I remember Pennie Brownlee talked of a centre that makes bread each day together replacing the ‘activity’ of playdough. Watching the chapati being made and later eaten under the pepper tree was beautiful evidence of the value of going through the real-life steps of making something before being able to devour it.
It was also of course desperately treatful and nourishing to eat chapati (with some additional spices and herbs) during the session’s evaluation.
Being a part of these two Monday celebrations reminded me of the beauty of occasion, of gratitude, of acknowledging, of ritual, of art and colour, of making and sharing food together.
I feel happy when my children see me being creative, when they watch me smiling and laughing with them and others. It shows them authentically and simply that I value joy, celebration and connecting with people.
For these and all reasons I treasure culture and art (or creativity) and feel encouraged to continue with Playcentre and other energy-intensive choices around being a parent when I get the opportunity and support to be in culture and in art.
Here are some images from the special Diwali days.
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