Showcasing our cultural roots

When my daughter’s school invited us to set up an exhibition about India, on the occasion of International Friendship Day, I was thrilled! Her school interprets International Friendship Day as a celebration of kids from different countries coming together and forming friendships. As a non-resident Indian living in Singapore, the opportunity to represent India and showcase our rich culture was a gratifying experience for me and my family. 

We displayed various artifacts, such as miniatures of Indian landmarks, folk art, traditional clothes, traditional handicrafts, and games from India like lattu and chess. We also brought some delicious Indian snacks, which everyone enjoyed. 

As we interacted with people at the exhibition, we were overwhelmed by the positive response and interest in our culture. Many people asked us about our customs, traditions, and beliefs, and we were more than happy to share our knowledge and experiences. The most fun part was teaching kids from different cultures how to say ‘Namaste’! I also got a chance to visit other booths set up by moms from different countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines. 

A legacy in a rose clip

This image has two photos. The one above shows Surabhi Pandey's daughter in a red saree, wearing the rose clip that  her mother, Surabhi, wore at her wedding. 
The photo below is a side profile of Surabhi in her bridal jewelry and sporting a rose clip. (Photo courtesy: Surabhi Pandey)
Surabhi Pandey’s daughter (above) wears the rose clip that Surabhi wore (below) at her own wedding. (Photo courtesy: Surabhi Pandey)

On the day of the exhibition, my daughter and I wore sarees. The process of wearing the sarees was a beautiful experience in itself, as it brought back memories of my childhood. It reminded me how badly I wanted to drape any piece of cloth like a saree every time I saw my mom wear one. 

But the showstopper of the day was a simple red rose hair clip that my daughter wore; the same red rose hair clip that was a part of my bridal look. As I clipped the red rose to her hair, I couldn’t help but feel a rush of emotions. It was a small accessory, but it meant so much to me! It reminded me of the love and commitment that my husband and I share and the beautiful memories of our wedding day. And now, to see it on my daughter was a reminder of the family that we have created together.

Seeing my daughter wear the hair clip was a powerful moment for me as a mom. It was a reminder of how much she has grown since she was born and how quickly time flies. It was also a reminder of the special bond that we share as mother and daughter.

Never forget where you came from

Surabhi Pandey with her daughter at her school's International Friendship Day celebrations. Both mother and daughter are posing wearing sarees.(Photo courtesy: Surabhi Pandey)
Surabhi Pandey with her daughter at her school’s International Friendship Day celebrations. (Photo courtesy: Surabhi Pandey)

The experience of representing India in a foreign land was truly gratifying. It was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the beauty and diversity of India and to connect with people from different backgrounds and cultures. 

But beyond the immediate joy and pride that we feel when representing our culture, it is also important to teach our children about their roots and culture. In today’s fast-paced, globalized world, it’s easy for children to become disconnected from their cultural identity and heritage.

Exhibitions like the one we participated in offer a chance for children to learn about their culture and understand their roots. Through exposure to traditional clothing, food, music, dance, and other cultural artifacts, children can develop a deeper appreciation for their heritage and identity. This knowledge and appreciation can provide a strong foundation for their personal and cultural identity, as well as their relationships with others.

Instilling a sense of pride and belonging

Teaching children about their culture and heritage can also help them build important life skills. Children who are grounded in their cultural identity are often more confident, resilient, and adaptable. They are able to navigate cultural differences with ease and grace, and they are better able to appreciate and respect diversity in others.

Children who learn about their culture and heritage are more likely to develop a strong sense of pride and belonging. This can be especially important for children who are growing up in a foreign land, where they may feel like outsiders or struggle to fit in. Understanding their roots can provide a sense of connection and a sense of belonging to a larger community.

Representing India in a foreign land was an incredible experience for me and my family. It allowed us to share our culture with others, and to celebrate the richness and diversity of our country. But more importantly, it gave us an opportunity to teach our daughter about her culture and heritage, and to instill in her a sense of pride and belonging. Even simple school functions and activities like this one can be an important opportunity to do just that.

Surabhi, a former Delhi Doordarshan presenter, is a journalist based in Singapore. She is the author of ‘Nascent Wings’ and ‘Saturated Agitation’ and has contributed to over 15 anthologies in English...