Monday, March 16, 2009

Rang Barse and a Very Special Lesson

Saturday night found Jake (the nephew), Karen, Gretch and me up on the University of Utah campus celebrating Indian culture. (Like Gandhi-Indian, not Pocahontas-Indian) The Indian Students Association at the U organized India Night to celebrate Rang Barse. Rang Barse, as I found out from an Indian couple sitting nearby, means “color spread” or “color scatter.” In Indian culture, this festival’s purpose is to eradicate demons or evil by spreading color (which, my new friends told me, suggests Indian culture or life).

The festival consisted of music, traditional fashions, dancing, and food. The event was catered by Ganesh and was drop-down-flippin’ delicious. We were served onion pakora, nan, paneer curry, dal, veg biryani, and gulab jamun for dessert. I’ll admit that after they put everything on my plate, I had no clue which item was which but it was all good.

On the drive home, I asked Jake what he found most interesting about the evening.

“The very colorful clothes,” he told me.

He then asked why some of the men were wearing “those round hats.”

I grinned as I seized upon this perfect opportunity to teach diversity and acceptance. I explained that some of the men wear turbans because it’s very special to them and reminds them of their religion or culture. I likened it to Jake wearing a CTR ring which is special and reminds him to do the right thing. I stressed how everyone all over the world wears different clothes and eats different food and likes different things and that’s okay. I told him that we can all be friends, even if we look or act or sound differently because we are all very special people. I looked back to Jake in his carseat to see the enlightened look in his eyes as the meaning of my spiel was understood.

“Look,” he squealed with delight, pointing out the window, “See that big, funny truck?”

Ah, well. We’ll save cultural tolerance for another day.


Kristina P. said...

Loved this! And I didn't know some of these things either.

Corrine said...

aren't kids the best!!

Celestial Soldier said...

Now I want Indian food...

Kim said...

Me too, Jacob. Let's go get some soon!