Customs and ways of life enable children to understand progress with relation to its affectation of the society and its culture. Children’s glimpse of a bygone era gives them a sense of identity of their own community and region. These are the understandings that lead to an expressive and creative analysis in them as they grow older. The past way of life also enable us to feel inspired by the courage and sacrifice of our ancestors. They are also a reminder that we need to focus on becoming better human beings and responsible members of society and avoid making mistakes that our ancestors committed.
Imagine if we had an ancestor who was saluted in history for the courage and valour he or she displayed, it’s an inspiration for us to be stronger in our attitude to life and its challenges. Similarly if we had unfortunately one black sheep in our family history that we all wish to ignore, please don’t, because even that ancestor provides us wisdom on what not to be.
Enlighten and engage children with regard to family history and customs. Of course, the choice of the customs that we wish to retain and cherish is at our discretion.
Family traditions and customs need not necessarily be ones that have been upheld for ages, new ones can be introduced in this generation. There is no need to emphasis them based on the country or religion that you come from or follow. Respectful and kind ways of living are worthy to be practiced no matter who you are or where you come from.
Religious festivals symbolize the essence of inherent goodness that religions preach. And it is a great opportunity to especially plan something on those special days that would spread a little joy in our environment.
On the occasion of any festival, a part of the day can be spent for social work that involves the whole family. It is a great way of not just bonding but creating awareness in children about social work, respect for others and religious tolerance. It also enables them to comprehend the significance of giving back to society what they have gained.
Similarly, children can be drawn into observing some ways of life that have lost their popularity with the onset of progress and modernization. Ways of life that would give a child an idea of the tough and challenging life of a generation in the village. As a child, who used to visit my charming and sleepy village in Kerala, I remember how common it was to see ladies thatch coconut leaves for the thatched roofs for houses but today it is obsolete. During those monsoon vacations, in my Grandmother’s home, we often used to have an old kerosene lamp lit in the living room when we used to experience power cuts in the late evenings and nights. It was a lamp that would give off thick fumes of kerosene that seemed to entice a regular mob of bugs and moths. Insects who seemed to find children as fascinating as the flame that seems to beguile them.
Those lamps have bid farewell and today electric emergency lamps have replaced them.
The amazing sight of a sturdy man deftly climbing up a coconut tree is already fast disappearing. The custom of having coconut tree climbers collecting the nuts off the trees is a dying one. With progress and better opportunities of livelihood, the generations of coconut tree climbers are a dying breed, but if you are able to show your child how skillfully a climber climbs up and throws down the nuts, it is a fascinating study by itself.
Similarly, the boats that used to ferry us from my Mother’s ancestral home to my Dad’s home is a figment of history today. Bridges have spruced up, roads have replaced dirt roads and transportation has become easier and less exciting for the romantic at heart. How else can you enjoy viewing the breathtaking scene of raindrops forming a “carpet” on the backwaters? Enjoy the rain droplets that trickle on our back from the window as we sit inside the boat? And in sunny weather, see the coconut trees gaze at us from the shores?
Who knows what other charming elements from our lifestyle today would fade away with time and become part of a bygone era?
Allow children to catch a glimpse of the quaint life that exists in your hometown or ways of traditional life and culture in the place you live in. Tomorrow, it would be impossible for them to see and understand a certain custom or way of life that was prevalent in your generation.
These experiences enable better respect towards differences, hardships and challenges that others face and trigger in us an interest in life.
Our Past can inspire us to enjoy Today, help us to positively look forward to a promising Tomorrow and experience Life with hope and wisdom.
Credit to the picture: “MYSTERY OF LIFE.” : Free Ancient Inventing and Inventions Ideas. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.