Helping Foster Children Celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas
Helping your foster children celebrate Bandhi Chhor Diwas is a wonderful opportunity to foster cultural connection, instil values, and create cherished memories.
10 ways to celebrate Bandhi Chhor Diwas
Educate about Bandhi Chhor Diwas
Begin by educating your foster children about the significance of Bandhi Chhor Diwas. Share the historical context of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji's release from prison, emphasising the values of freedom, justice, and righteousness. Use age-appropriate resources such as books, videos, or stories to engage them in learning.
Decorate the home
Create a festive atmosphere in your home by decorating it with vibrant colors, lights, and traditional Sikh symbols like the Khanda or Ik Onkar. Encourage the children to participate in the decoration process, allowing them to feel a sense of ownership and pride in preparing for the celebration, as well as feeling like they belong within their foster family.
Engage in kirtan (devotional singing)
Kirtan - devotional singing - holds a significant place in Sikh traditions. Play devotional Sikh hymns or Shabads during the celebration. Encourage the children to join in singing and experience the uplifting power of the music. This will help them connect with the spiritual essence of Bandhi Chhor Diwas.
Prepare traditional food
When it comes to food, it’s important to be mindful that many children in care have come from neglectful or abusive households, where food could have been restricted or used as punishment. They might not have tried any traditional Sikh food before either. Be encouraging but gentle in your approach to introduce your foster child to the culinary delights of Bandhi Chhor Diwas. You could cook or share traditional Sikh dishes like Karah Prasad (holy offering), Pinni (sweet flour-based dessert), or Langar (community kitchen) meals. Involve them in the preparation process, teaching them about the significance of sharing and community while having lots of fun! Also prepare some ‘safe’ food like chips or pizza, just in case they aren’t ready to try anything new but still want to help with preparations.
Attend Gurdwara services
Visit your local Gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship, during Bandhi Chhor Diwas. Participate in the special prayer services and kirtan programs held to commemorate the occasion. Encourage the children to observe the traditions and rituals followed in the Gurdwara, fostering a sense of connection to the Sikh community.
Engage in sewa (selfless service)
Bandhi Chhor Diwas emphasises the importance of selfless service, which is a wonderful characteristic to teach. Engage your foster children in acts of sewa, such as volunteering at a local food bank or participating in community litter-picking. This will instill values of compassion, generosity, and equality within them.
Create art and crafts
Encourage your foster children to express their creativity by engaging in art and crafts activities related to Bandhi Chhor Diwas. Create handmade greeting cards, Rangoli designs (traditional floor art), or paint pictures depicting the festival's themes. This artistic engagement will help them connect with the visual elements of the celebration.
Explore Sikh history and philosophy
Use Bandhi Chhor Diwas as an opportunity to delve deeper into Sikh history and philosophy with your foster children. Read books or watch documentaries about Sikh Gurus, the teachings of Sikhism, and the core values of the faith. Engage in discussions and encourage them to ask questions, fostering their understanding and appreciation of Sikh culture.
Celebrate with the Sikh community
Connect with the local Sikh community and attend Bandhi Chhor Diwas celebrations organised by Sikh organisations or Gurdwaras. Participate in Nagar Kirtan processions (religious processions), where the Sikh community comes together to sing hymns, share food, and celebrate. Engaging with the community will help your foster children develop a sense of belonging and connect with their Sikh heritage.
Share family stories and traditions
Sadly, your foster child might not have many happy memories of Bandhi Chhor Diwas, or the occasion brings up a lot of emotion for them while they’re away from their birth family. You could try to help by sharing your own family’s stories or traditions, in a safe and open space. Let them know what this holiday means to you and your family, and how you’re looking forward to creating new memories with your young person. This could help to strengthen their sense of belonging within the foster home, and perhaps change their perception of the holiday as a whole.
Helping your foster children celebrate Bandhi Chhor Diwas is a wonderful opportunity to foster cultural connection, instill values, and create cherished memories. By educating them about the significance of the festival and engaging in all these fun and meaningful activities, you can provide a nurturing environment and help them develop a deeper appreciation for Bandhi Chhor Diwas, as well as feel a sense of love, belonging, and cultural pride.
1. Identity development: Religion and culture are integral parts of a person's identity. When children in care maintain a connection to their religion and culture, it helps them understand their roots, heritage, and sense of self. It provides a foundation for their identity development and helps answer fundamental questions about who they are and where they come from.
2. Emotional well-being: Being placed into foster care can be a very upsetting experience for children, as it involves separation from their biological families. By maintaining a connection to their religion and culture, children in care can find solace, comfort, and a sense of familiarity. It offers them emotional support and helps lessen the feelings of loss, confusion, and loneliness.
3. Sense of belonging: Religion and culture often provide a sense of community and belonging. For children in care, who may have experienced disruption and displacement, a connection to their faith can offer a supportive network of individuals who share common values, beliefs, and experiences. This sense of belonging contributes to their overall well-being and helps them form positive relationships.
4. Cultural understanding and pride: When children in care are able to feel connected to their culture, they develop an understanding and appreciation for their traditions, customs, and heritage. It builds cultural pride and allows them to embrace their unique background. This understanding also encourages acceptance and respect for people from different backgrounds, too.
5. Stability and continuity: Being placed into the care system often involves transitions and changes, which can create a sense of instability for children. Religion and culture can provide a source of stability and continuity in their lives. It offers a framework of beliefs, practices, and values that remain constant amidst all the change.
6. Moral and ethical guidance: Religion often provides a moral and ethical framework for individuals. It offers guidance on values, principles, and behaviour. Many children in care have unfortunately experienced a lot of trauma in their young lives, such as abuse, neglect or domestic violence. As such, they may have some behavioural issues as a result. A connection to their religion can provide them with a sense of right and wrong, helping shape their moral compass and guiding their decision-making.
7. Resilience and coping: Religion and culture can be sources of strength and resilience during challenging times. The rituals, prayers, and spiritual practices associated with a child’s faith can provide comfort, hope, and a sense of inner peace. They offer coping mechanisms and support children in navigating difficult circumstances.
8. Cultural heritage: By nurturing a connection to their religion and culture, children in care can actively participate in preserving and passing down their cultural heritage. This includes traditions, languages, celebrations and knowledge that contribute to the richness and diversity of society as a whole.
Why children in care need to stay connected to their faith
At Active Care Solutions (ACS), we strongly believe that the best outcomes are achieved when a child is placed into a home that shares the same faith and culture as them. It’s so important for children in foster care to feel close to their religion for a number of reasons:
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