I come from a very typical Indian immigrant story. I was three years old when my parents immigrated to this country. I didn’t speak any English. I learned from watching Sesame Street. My father worked long hours as a resident physician, and we lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment in Staten Island.
I grew up in the USA in the 80s. I lived in two worlds. One at home where we ate traditional Indian food like Dosa and Idli on stainless steel plates for Saturday breakfast, spoke our native language, listened to and watched endless Bollywood movies (and practiced the choreographed dances we saw on the screen), prayed daily at our in-home altars and kept ancient beauty rituals alive with weekly coconut oil hair treatments. The other life was outside of the home—at school, at soccer practices and hanging out with friends gossiping about New Kids On The Block over pizza—living a very typical “American” life.
My parents always maintained our traditions at home so I would understand, respect and love my roots as an Indian. They always let me explore and engage in a culture they knew little of so I would understand, respect and love my future as an American.
Now that I am a mother, I want to pass on those Indian traditions and help my children love and embrace their roots as well. I am proud of my roots. It is what inspired me to launch a company with traditions and philosophy stemming from India. And as an entrepreneur, I have been fortunate enough to meet other founders that also launched companies that pay homage to our Indian roots.
So this Diwali—a very important holiday in India in which we celebrate light over darkness, enlightenment over ignorance and joy over sorrow—I’m sharing my favorite Indian-inspired Diwali gifts that I have given to my own children. This inspiration to share my culture is the same inspiration that drives me to learn about other cultures—and teach my kids about the beauty in the diversity of all the children in their communities. When we celebrate our differences and connect over our similarities, it provides the opportunity to teach our children about kindness, compassion and empathy for others. Check out our limited edition holiday offering for Diwali and many other beautiful holidays celebrated this season at Ahimsa. Together let’s expand little minds and palates over mealtime!
Ok, now get your shopping carts ready for some Diwali gift shopping!
Safe, sustainable, healthy AND fun? How often do those go together? Children love these colorful stainless steel dishes that encourage healthy eating while making mealtime engaging. As a Pediatrician Mom, I learned about the harmful chemicals in plastic, so I created a line of stainless steel dinnerware for kids—inspired by my own mom and our dining table filled with steel tableware when I was young. Steel is the material of choice for dinnerware in India, so I added a fun, modern twist with color and pediatric-nutrition-infused, intentional designs to share with families across the USA for happy and healthy mealtime! Our limited edition Holiday Gift includes 7 interactive mealtime placemats to help children learn about various holidays and traditions. It also includes upcycled sari material so you can gift wrap easily (and sustainably since you can reuse this material forever!). Our aim is to expand little minds and palates this holiday season.
Spiritual songs with Hindu deities in plush form with matching books to teach children about their religion is something that simply did not exist before founder Avani Modi brought it to life. Now, children across the globe snuggle with loveable snuggable versions of familiar faces like Ganesha and Saraswati. The brand shares on their site that “Admittedly, no single product can bridge the paradoxical gap between wanting to assimilate with the American lifestyle, yet still retaining our culture. But we can certainly try. We want to create a (modi)fied version of what you and your kids already know and love. By introducing these toys at an early age, we hope to spark curiosity about their culture. The gift of knowledge may last a day, but the gift of wonder lasts forever.” I can attest that my children love and cherish their Modi Toys and snuggle nightly with them.
Mompreneur Akruti Babaria, founder of Kulture Khazana, gave birth to her son, Ayaan and realized the diverse places she lived in had no sign of her culture or community in children’s products. She searched for Indian toys, Diwali gifts, stories that explain Holi and Navratri, anything that would teach her son about South Asian culture and all its treasures, but found nothing. Hence the birth of Kulture Khazana.
Her goal of sharing Indian cultural stories with children through educational and play activities is now seen in their collection of affordable and accessible books, toys, games and online story albums. My kids especially love the floor puzzle and this year, I purchased the Diwali Classroom Kit since I go to my kid’s school every year to teach in the classroom. This kit is a life-saver for parents who want to introduce Diwali to their children’s class.
Sindhu and Vaishali created this line of products that showcase Indian culture so parents can teach their kids about who they are. They offer toys, books and apparel for little ones, but my favorite is the Indian Fest Set—an assortment of plush toys that mimic traditional Indian foods! Ladoo is an Indian sweet often served at holidays, weddings and other big events. All of their products are meant to tell the story of our culture and traditions in the cutest of ways.
Child Psychiatrist Dr. Zabina “Zee” Bhasin, MD, is a diversity and inclusion expert who believes that cultural differences unite us rather than divide us. So she created InKidz, a line of culture-focused toys and products to give families everywhere access to the world’s varied and rich traditions and engaging resources that make understanding DE&I simple for anyone. I love the bond bands—they feature three beads representing guidance, protection and love. The black thread is auspicious and bonds the beads together. When wearing the bond bands, we commit to evoking compassion and being protectors of one another in a sleek style!
This is an amazing women-led brand that echoes their love for South Asian culture and advocating century-old artisanal craftsmanship. Fun prints and design draw from traditional roots and modern hipster vibes—it is such a fun blend of old meets new! From clothing to bags, this is a great gift for your teenager. My favorite is the Rani clutch. Rani means “Princess” in Hindi, and I love this depiction of a beautiful and strong woman rocking a bindi and sunglasses—it exudes girl power and a nod to Indian roots!
With titles like Bravo Anjali and Super Satya Saves The Day, my kids LOVE seeing characters that look like them and stories of family traditions and cultural practices that they can relate to! This award-winning independent publishing house that shares the sweet and savory stories of the South Asian experience has been a hit with my kids! My go-to gift has now become the Indi-Alphabet. With whimsical verses and vibrant images, it brings to life an India both familiar and unfamiliar.