Festivals are not just a great time to celebrate and enjoy, but also an opportunity to acquaint our children with our diverse culture.
With schools and preschools taking the initiative to celebrate the joyous festival of Baisakhi – the harvest festival of Punjab, that marks the birth of the Khalsa way of living in the Sikh religion – come April children all over are dancing to the tunes of this festival.
For all those schools and pre-schools looking for ideas to celebrate Baisakhi usually celebrated on April 13th or 14th, here is a treasure trove of ideas to engage kids. Indulge!
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Group activity ideas for schools, pre-schools and kindergarten kids
The best way to acquaint children with a culture is by making them a part of it.
Ask the parents to dress their kids in traditional Punjabi outfits and see the colourful balls of cuteness create a riot in school.
Little Patiala salwars and cute little turbans, lungis, kurtas and flying dupattas are all going to be loved by kids and parents alike.
Keep a photo booth and click photos of these little angels in their bright outfits and send them home with fun memories.
Bhangra flash mob
Instead of selecting few kids to do the bhangra and gidda performance, ask each class teacher to teach a few steps to kids and select a common song.
Give each class 20-40 seconds to perform a flash mob for a different part of the song as they gather together in the community space to celebrate the festival.
This might require a little planning by the head teacher, but is sure going to be a lot of fun.
Pick a pop Punjabi song so there is an element of familiarity as well. This is especially going to be a hit with a little older kids.
Punjab da mela
Get parents to help set up a few stalls for food, activity and let children help make the décor of the mela.
Use colourful dupattas, pinwheels, and use hay to give it a nice village look.
Food could be traditional Punjabi dishes like Kheer, Kesar halva, Lassi, Chole Kulche, Rajmah rice, Paneer tikkas, makke ki roti with white butter, etc.
If the kids are old enough to serve, let them take the initiative to man the stalls. For kindergarten and pre-school kids, the parents will need to volunteer.
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5 corners of Khalsa
Khalsa has the 5 Ks which their guru Gobind Singh commanded Khalsa Sikhs to wear at all times in 1699.
They are Kesh (uncut hair), Kangha Kara (an iron bangle), Kachera (100% cotton tieable undergarment (not an elastic one)) and Kirpan (an iron dagger large enough to defend yourself).
Create 5 corners with these 5 Ks and let children explore them.
Provide a note on each k and the relevance of wearing them. Eg: a Kirpan symbolizes a Sikh’s duty to come to the defence of those in peril.
The Sikh religion is full of stories of bravery, valour and humility.
Pick a few simple stories and narrate them with props and photographs to the students and acquaint them with the values that form the basis of this religion.
Here are some stories kids might enjoy.
For pre-schoolers and kindergarten kids, storytelling is a fabulous way to introduce them to characters they are not familiar with in the day to day like.
One may use storytelling to introduce them to the various elements that make up Sikhism.
A Baisakhi party
Baisakhi is usually celebrated by burning a small bonfire followed by dance and food.
Recreate this magic of Baisakhi celebration by preparing a small mock fire and let children take rounds around it
Then call a Dholwala and let the children dance freely.
For preschool kids and kindergarten kids, it might be a good idea to skip the Dholwala and instead bring in a small dholki and let the children play the dholki.
In fact, if you can grab a few dholkis, let the children enjoy playing with them and create their own music.
It will be a sight to see prettily dressed kids, dancing and singing and enjoying to Punjabi music.
Craft activities for preschoolers/kindergarten kids
Craft is something preschool and kindergarten kids enjoy a lot.
So why not bring in the flavour of Baisakhi in their craft activities all month of April? Here are some craft activities you can do, that the little children will enjoy:
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Remember those colourful pinwheels that would rotate as wind passes through them?
How much joy a pinwheel can bring, especially if the child makes it himself.
You might need to assist the child with cutting and pinning, and will have to be extra careful with ensuring the tip of the pin is properly covered, but the final result will be a lot of fun for the kid we assure you. Here is a pinwheel making tutorial you could use:
Get kite paper of different bright colours and cut square sheets and keep.
Give 4-6 sheets of the same colour (allow the children to pick their favourite colour) and let them make a pompom out of it by making a fan and then tying it in the centre.
When each layer is opened out a pretty pompom is formed and kids can use it to decorate their classrooms.
Decorate your scarf
Bhangra dancers often use small square scarfs that they tie on their fingers for more drama when they are dancing.
You can cut small squares of colourful cloth and give 2 to each child to decorate with sequences.
Let them stick sequences, mirrors and other bling-y elements on their scarfs and then use it when dancing later. The kids will love it.
Teach children to make their own colourful kangas to reinforce the Sikh K’s and take this opportunity to teach them about the importance of combing hair and keeping good hygiene.
Use colourful icecream sticks and small wooden sticks to make a pretty kanga following the tutorial here
The khanda is an emblem of the Sikh religion and is made of two kirpans and a circular ring.
Make a cut out of this symbol and give it to the children to decorate with some glittery powder after smearing some glue on the khanda cut-out.
Pre-schoolers will love the effect and you can offer to pierce it with a hole and put a thread through it to make it a wall hanging.
This wall hanging will serve as a great reminder to them about all the good values that Sikhism teaches – Bravery, humility, good hygiene and camaraderie.