“Mama, but James isn’t Indian. Why should I celebrate Diwali with him?"
A valid question right? Specially if you're living in a diverse, multicultural city. One asked not just by little kids, but adults also. Why should we share our festivals with others?
It’s easy to share your culture, your festivals, your traditions and customs with ‘your people’ . People who are similar to you, people who understand and get it instantly, people to whom you don’t need to explain every single action or custom, people who find meaning and joy in the same rituals, people with whom sharing festivals is - you guessed it - Easy!!!
So, why share? Why not stick to just ‘our people’? Why not celebrate Diwali with other Indians only. Or if we’re Chinese, why not celebrate Lunar New Year with our Chinese community only?
Because we don’t live in cultural isolation. We all live in shared cultural spaces. We live in multicultural environments. We are raising multicultural kids. Today or tomorrow, you or your child is going to navigate an extremely diverse world.
Our little ones develop a sense of self as early as 2 years of age. Just like the grownups around them, in order to develop a positive sense of self, they need to respect their own families and cultures and have others do the same. Just like us, if they are not able to share their cultural identity, your little one can feel invisible, unimportant and ashamed of who they are.
Whether you’re in a boardroom or a classroom, we all need cultural awareness and understanding to be able to navigate this world. But cultural awareness and understanding is a two way street. We can’t expect people to understand and be culturally aware unless we make the effort to be more culturally inclusive.
How does being culturally inclusive help?
1. We create a safe space for grownups and kids to understand a culture better. We help people understand the importance behind certain rituals and traditions and make sense of it.
2. Grown ups and kids develop stronger relationships with their peer groups when displaying a genuine interest in learning and sharing each other’s cultures.
3. Both grownups and kids get to practice cultural sensitivity and learn to be respectful of others' cultural backgrounds.
4. Shared cultural experiences have been proven to help both grownups and kids become more empathetic, open minded and confident.
This sounds like too much effort you might say.
Not really! It’s as simple as sharing your cultural celebration with a friend, colleague or neighbour. You don’t need to throw a big party, though we’re sure that they would love that!
Here’s 5 simple things you can do to share your cultural festival with others:
- Invite just one person over - your friend, neighbour, colleague or your child’s friend to share your cultural celebration with you. You keep doing what you’re doing, you just have one other person joining in the celebrations with you.
- Make a special meal - send a portion across to your neighbour with a little note explaining the significance behind the dish. Doesn't matter which heritage they're from.
- Dress up in a lovely festive outfit and if someone compliments you - tell them the significance behind it. What does it mean to you?
- Have kids? Mail the teacher and suggest a fun activity or a book that the kids can do in school to share their culture. If you have the time, set up a little book reading and Q and A session.
- Last but not least, check out our World Festival Kits here. Filled with stories, activities, fun facts for grown ups and kids. We did say that we’d make it easy for you!