Remembering Family Traditions at Festival Time
As moms living in South Asian families, we all are connected in our experiences of traditions, heirlooms and rituals that have been passed down to us over the years from our mothers or grandmothers. And for many of us, it’s the ones that come with memories of our days growing up celebrating special South Asian holidays that mean the most.
My parents immigrated to Canada in the 1970s at a time when there weren’t as many supports in the community to connect South Asian families to their culture as there are today. There weren’t as many places to share cultural celebrations such as community centres, temples or South Asian organizations. Today not only do we have access to these but we also see so much more about our culture in film, TV and media.
So when my parents shared celebrations like Diwali, Navaratri, and Lohri they always started with lots of storytelling about rituals they did in their home. My mom always believed that what we did at home would help build the foundation of what we understood about our culture and identity.
Each of our holidays have such rich stories behind them that helped explain why, for example, we light candles at every Diwali, why we clean our homes to make them ‘new’ again, why we wear new clothes, why we eat certain favourite foods and why we take a moment to remember our blessings.
What made these stories even more real for me and probably for many of you out there, were the stories our parents told us about their own personal experiences of celebrating holiday moments growing up. These are the conversations that have stood the test of time and that will continue to be passed down to our own children for future generations to come. While I don’t do everything my mom did for the holidays, I do hope to continue to share some of them with my kids while tweaking others for our own lifestyle.
Here are 10 things I remember about celebrating holidays with my family:
- The sweet smell of basin barfi/tukhri as it came out of the oven at my grandmother’s house. There’s just something about the way scents can take you right back and allow you to relive happy memories. When I make them for my own kids that smell makes me feel like I did as a little girl again!
- The glow coming off multiple diyas my mom would light around our small apartment
- When I got older, preparing the house for the holiday celebrations cleaning the house from top to bottom including all the wooden furniture in our home…the smell of lemon Pine-Sol mixed with agarbhati (sandalwood) wafting in our living room.
- The onslaught of ‘kitty parties’ and cards that adults would play while us kids played Monopoly.
- The chole bhature (chickpeas and pooris) that always made the buffet table
- My mom’s first time making turkey at Christmas and helping her shop for turkeys every year after that.
- Our first Polish Christmas table setting as kids going over to my uncle’s house whose wife is Polish. A love of perogies ensued soon after.
- Doing firecrackers (phuljariyan) in our backyard during Diwali and Lohri.
- The anticipation of unwrapping a holiday gift. My mom – for Christmas especially – would year after year put our gifts in really big boxes with multiple empty boxes to unwrap inside before we got to our actual gift. She thought this was just hilarious.
- The boxes upon boxes of mathai and jalebi that were piled up in our fridge given to us by guests after the holiday celebrations were over.
As a mother of two today, I cherish all of these memories that were passed down to me through my years growing up and I hope that I can share some of our traditions with my own kids as the years go by.
As I get ready for this festival season, I’m reminded of what it means to come from South Asian roots and how family traditions can make the holidays so much more meaningful.
Disclaimer: This post was done in partnership with Pine-Sol Canada however, opinions are my own. This post on Holiday Traditions is sponsored by Pine-Sol. With a strong heritage and long legacy, Pine-Sol is a long-standing tradition in many Canadian homes. Apart from the classic pine scent, Pine-Sol is also available in variety of long-lasting scents – mandarin sunrise, lavender, lemon and sparkling wave. You can use different scents throughout your home to change the mood.
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