Updated: Oct 19, 2020
9 activities for the 9 days of Navratri. Indian festivals are about joy, community and light-- all things that are hard to come by in times of Covid. But here are 9 activities for the 9 days of Navratri that you can do from the safety of your home to feel some of joy, community and light we are all craving these days. From our home to yours, Happy Navratri!!!
Day 1: Share the story of Rama.
I know there are lots of versions of this story (and I have left out a lot), but this is a version that I thought would be short, sweet, and easy for my kid to understand. But tweak it as needed. If your kid loves Hanuman, you can add more about how Hanuman set fire to Lanka. If your kid loves spies and disguises, you can focus more on how Ravana transformed himself into a beggar. Dealer’s choice!
In the kingdom of Sri Lanka, there once lived a man named Ravana. Ravana was handsome, strong and smart. In fact, he was so smart that some people thought he must have 10 brains, not just 1. But he had one big flaw— he was selfish. He thought that the world revolved around him, and, as we know, the world revolves around the Sun (and God), not people! Instead of using his muscles to help people, Ravana used them to hurt people. And nobody stopped him, because nobody could. So Ravana did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted.
One day, he heard of a beautiful Indian princess named Sita. He disguised himself as a hungry beggar and went to Sita’s house asking for food. Just as our homes are protected by doors and locks, Sita’s home was protected by a magic lock, called the Laxman Rekha that her brother in law Laxman had created. As long as she stayed inside the house, nobody could hurt her. Now Sita was smart and strong, just like Ravana. But she was also kind, so when she saw the hungry beggar, she rushed out of her house to help him. As soon as she did, Ravana captured her and took her to Lanka.
Though Sita was in a strange land with strange people, she was not scared. She knew that God was always with her and would take care of her, as long as she was strong and kind. And take care of her He did. He sent her husband, Rama, to save her.
Rama was the King of Ayodhya. He gathered his army, his friends, and his most loyal servant, Hanuman, and they marched to Lanka. Though Ravana was strong, he was not stronger than God, so Rama easily defeated Ravana. All of Lanka rejoiced. To celebrate the victory of Rama over Ravana (the victory of Good over Evil), they threw a huge party. Today, we still celebrate that party in the form of Navratri.
There will be times when you, like Sita, feel alone. But, like Sita, be brave and remember that Good is stronger than Evil.
Day 2: Share the story of Durga Mata.
Again, I know there are a lot of different versions of this story. I wanted to show my kid that hard work and a kind soul will make her strong, so I went with this version. But feel free to spice it up!
There once lived a rakshash (demon) king named Mahisasura. Now rakshash’s don’t have sharp teeth or large horns. In fact, they look just like me and you! But their hearts are filled with greed and anger and desire, which is why they are called rakshahes.
Mahisasura was the most powerful king in the world. He spent hours exercising, eating vegetables, and studying to make his body and mind strong. But he was not kind or selfless so, though his body was large, his heart was small. He bullied people. He hit people. He hurt people.
And the people could not fight back, because Mahisasura was too strong. One day, the people of the world turned to God for help, but God only helps those who help themselves. So God asked, “Who will take my trident?” And Durga Mata raised her hand.
Durga Mata was a woman who, like Mahisasura, studied hard and exercised until she was strong too. Unlike Mahisasura, her heart was big— big enough to fit God. So with God within her, Durga Mata went to Mahisasura and told him. “Be nicer. Be helpful. Be loving”. But Mahisasura just laughed at her and continued being mean. So Durga Mata went back to Mahisasura with the trident that God had given her. She attacked him. For 15 days they fought, until Durga Mata won. The people of the world were finally free and happy; to celebrate, they threw a huge party. Even today, we celebrate Durga Mata's victory in the form of Dashera.
There will be times when you, like Durga Mata, meet bullies who are strong and mean. But, like Durga Mata, you can become even stronger with God by your side.
Day 3: The 3 Goddesses.
Navratri is the celebration of female strength and power. Teach your kid that women are fierce by explaining the holy trinity of goddesses-- Saraswati, Laxmi, and Kaali.
Day 4: From Shunya to Punya.
Navratri is FUN, but it also helps solidify some FUNdamental Truths. Stay tuned for a Navratri number worksheet that has Navratri poems so that your kid can learn about numbers and Navratri at the same time! Coming this week!
Day 5: Share the story of the Pandavas.
The Pandavas were 5 brothers who lived in India a long long time ago. The eldest Pandava was Yuddhisthir, who was always fair. Then came Arjun, who was the greatest archer of all time. Then came Bheema, who was strong and powerful. Finally came the 2 youngest twins, Nakul and Sahadev, who were kind and loving.
All together, the Pandavas were great kings. They were caring and helpful--everyone in their kingdom was happy and healthy. The Pandavas had 100 cousins, called the Kauravas, the eldest of whom was named Duryodhan. Duryodhan was also a king, but he was rude and selfish. He only cared about himself, and so the people of his kingdom become greedy and mean, just like their ruler.
One day, Duryodhan decided that his kingdom was not enough-- he wanted the Pandavas’ kingdom too, and so a huge war began. Duryodhan and the Pandavas each went to the nearby kings to ask for their help in this war, and, one by one, the kings of India chose sides. They then both went to Krishna (God) for help. Now Duryodhan only wanted Krishna’s armies. But Arjun, who loved Krishna dearly, wanted Krishna himself. And so Duryodhan left with hundreds of warriors and Arjun left with Krishna by his side. When the war finally came, Arjun and the Pandavas were outnumbered. They had a small army compared to the Kauravas, but it didn’t matter. They had Krishna on their side. They had God on their side. And they won.
You, like Arjun, will one day choose between God and a million other things. And I hope you choose God.
Day 6: Make an Indian (or any) sweet with your kid.
This one is up to you, but if you find any good recipes share them in the comment section below (or better yet mail them straight to me!)
Day 7: Ghar Garba (Home Garba)
Who needs a crowd to have fun? Grab your kid and whoever else is at home, turn on some music, and dance some circles around your living room. There are lots of Garba playlists on youtube that you can use to help set the festive mood. Make sure you dress up too! You can even Zoom with your family or friends to amp the excitement!
Day 8: Family Fun.
Navratri is about connections. Have a Zoom reunion with your family and friends from across the globe. Share how you have been celebrating Navratri. Share the love.
Day 9: Craft Time.
Bust out the glitter, glue, scissors, markers and paint. Ask your kid what they learned about Navratri from the previous 8 activities. Ask what their favorite part of Navratri is and share yours. Then draw a picture of your favorite parts of Navratri.