ParentCircle 'Your Story' Contest Winners (October Edition)

ParentCircle has launched a monthly writing opportunity called 'Your Story' for readers of our magazine. Here are the winners for this month. Congratulations to everyone!

By Team ParentCircle

ParentCircle 'Your Story' Contest Winners (October Edition)

It’s the festival season! Our ‘Your Story’ writing contest on ParentCircle.com asked readers to share their thoughts on ‘celebrating festivals with family’. And here are the two winning entries and one runner's up entry. Thank you Sushmita Pal, Vidushi Jain and Roopa M for these thoughtful pieces. Read, learn and celebrate.

Here are the selected entries for the month:

No celebration is complete without family – Sushmita Pal, Mumbai

ParentCircle 'Your Story' Contest Winners (October Edition)

Festivals bring the entire family together. There is no fun and happiness if we don't celebrate festivals with our family. My family is very big. We all get together and enjoy during festivals. As I'm born in a Bengali family, I love rasgullas, which is my favourite sweet. My mom makes sweets during festivals when our whole family gathers together. Durga Puja is one such festive occasion. During Durga Puja, all of us visit places wherever there is a Durga Thakur (pandal with idol). We take pictures and selfies. It is important to us because in the future when we see the pictures, they will bring back happy memories. The three days of Durga Puja, namely Maha Saptami, Maha Navami and Maha Dashami are the most special and the happiest days for every Bengali. On the day of Maha Navami, we wear brand new clothes early in the morning and go to the temple for Aarti without eating anything. After aarti is done, we first eat prasad bhog, (food offered to God) before having breakfast. We go with our moms for pushpanjali. Later in the evening, we have so much fun just bonding as a family, making the day unforgettable.

On the last day, that is Dasara (Maha Dashami), we take blessings from our elders. We hug them and wish them a happy Dasara. We, then, give them a box of sweets. This tradition reflects the respect we have for our elders. Celebrating festivals with friends can make us happy, but when we celebrate the same festival with family, it gives a different kind of joy. After all, it is our family that supports and guides us. It is them we turn to when we have problems. Their presence brings us happiness.

Festivals truly bring us together – Vidushi Jain, Gurugram

ParentCircle 'Your Story' Contest Winners (October Edition)

What a wonderful day I just had with my family — dancing, binging on sweets and praying at the beautiful pandal in the club! These festive days are truly magical — mesmerising lights all around, foot-tapping numbers interspersed with soothing devotional music and the joy and laughter of family and friends! 

I have to admit here, things weren't looking so rosy when, after a two-year posting in the US, I came back to Delhi earlier this month. We had left the country on a bittersweet note. My parents and in-laws were completely against my shifting away for two years with my son. My sister-in-law and I had often gotten into bitter arguments. We never got the time to resolve them before I left the country. My son and his cousins barely had any love for each other, rather I noticed them being quite nasty to each other. It was with good reason that I was nervous about the nature of welcome we would receive on our return. I am happy to say, all my worries were unfounded! When I look back over the last week, this amazing festive period worked like a charm! Two weeks had passed since we returned, and hardly any of our family members had shown any interest in reconnecting with us! Out of sheer boredom, I decided to utilise the time in decorating my home for the festivities. It's amazing how beautiful a house can look with simple oil lamps and a rangoli of flowers! My beautiful home had lifted my spirits! I was so happy with my work, I decided to invite all my family for dinner — even the ones who had not bothered to speak with me for two years while I was away. As the day of the party came close, I decided to buy gifts for all of them. After all, what is a festival without gifts? Going a step ahead, I prepared some traditional Indian sweets for the gathering!

On the D-day, as the family trickled into my house, I received them all with a small gift and a big hug! The mood in the house was so cheerful — it was as if no negativity had ever festered here! Dressed to the nines, everyone was happy to meet, eat and pray together, as only a big, happy family can! The children had a gala time together. We even ended the evening with an all-out dance extravaganza! Such is the magic of family and festivals. No matter how tense relations are, a festival brings us close again! Time and again, festivals have shown me that the more you celebrate such moments together, life has more occasions to celebrate. 

To be honest, it is not about a beautiful home, elaborate decorations or scrumptious food — it is about who completes your life. For me, wherever my family stands, that place is my home! After all, life is too short to not cherish such moments together! Do yourself a favour — spend tonight with your extended family and see how happy you feel!

 Celebrating with friends who are like family — Roopa M

ParentCircle 'Your Story' Contest Winners (October Edition)

Celebrations are more meaningful when you are doing it with your family. Over the year, I’ve countless memories of festivals celebrated with family. To me, celebration memories mean poojas at home, the aroma of mouth-watering dishes, decorative thorans and rangolis, blessings from elders, new clothes, temple tours, meeting friends and relatives to share traditional sweets, entertaining a constant stream of visitors, and much more.

Every year, I look forward to, welcome Lord Ganesha home on Ganesh Chaturthi and to arrange the assorted dolls during Navratri, to burst crackers during Diwali, applying colours on Holi and the list goes on. No doubt, festivals are fun but there is a deeper meaning to it too. As we celebrate the various festivals, it gives us a possibility for spiritual growth. We can also teach our children about our culture and tradition amidst the celebration. The rituals associated with festivals bring positivity into our lives and remind us to be thankful for the world around us. By celebrating festivals, we are celebrating life itself.

Now, as a parent myself, I want to recreate my childhood experiences of festivals for my children. As we live away from our extended family and native place, we put extra efforts to follow rituals and traditions during festivals which are passed down from generations. We do this so that our children can also carry the traditions associated with festivals forward.

All Indian festivals are unique. I explain the significance of each festival to my children. For example, Rakshabandhan celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters, the essence of Navratri as it celebrates the victory of truth over evil, the significance of lighting lamps during Diwali — which signifies removal of darkness and spreading the light and so on.

As our family has lived in different states and countries, away from extended family, we miss them the most during festivals. However, over the years, we have made some friends in the neighbourhood where we live in. Now, we celebrate all the festivals together and share festival delicacies amidst joy and laughter. The experience of celebrating festivals with friends, who over the years has become a part of the family is unique. Now, I truly believe that family is not only about relatives.

Today, we live in such a diverse community that our family also celebrates Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year. We participate in Eid festivities too with friends. My children love to decorate the Christmas tree and look forward to Christmas presents every year.

Festivals are surely special bonding time for everyone in the family. The efforts we put in to ring in the festivities feel worthwhile when we see children imbibing qualities ingrained in our culture. The teachings they get from these festivals will help them grow into responsible and compassionate beings.

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