It was in November 2016 when I decided to grow my facial hair and over time, I had a full-grown beard. Suddenly, all of the people around me started saying “assalamu alaikum.” Initially, I ignored them but one day, my cousin’s six-year-old son asked me, “Chachu, why did you become a Muslim?” This was shocking. How could a six-year-old kid decide who was a Hindu and who was a Muslim – and that too just because of a beard?
Then I realised he had been consuming content from TV channels which made him differentiate between Hindus and Muslims. With this thought in mind, I thought we should do something to create awareness among kids at the initial stage and engage them in creative activities. We decided to organise a letter-writing event with kids where we wanted them to make Ramadan Cards and wish their friends.
The idea was to write letters, wish a happy Eid to everyone and then distribute them at Jama Masjid. I believe that each and every festival is of utmost importance, and India being a secular country needed more such acts to educate our young minds from the beginning about our diversity.
I asked my friend who has a street school near Indraprastha metro station if we could do the event with their kids as they were celebrating Eid with their kids for the first time.
More than 300 kids and volunteers joined the event to create Ramadan cards for the first time and with amidst laughter and curiosity, the team discussed with the children the significance of Ramadan and how was it celebrated. In a few hours we were able to make more than 100 beautiful cards and the smiles on the children’s faces after making their first Eid cards were amazing.
Many of them were not aware of why people celebrate Eid and what the significance of Ramadan was. Saloni, a student of the Pehchaan school said, “Ramadan mein log ek mahine tak fast karte hain, mithai khaate hain, sabki madad karte hain aur ache kaam karte hain (Ramadan is a month-long period where people fast till evening, eat sweets, help everyone and do good deeds).”
“Since the start, we have seen how these children were taught to discriminate people on the basis of religion. With this event, we tried to break that mindset and teach them the message of love and equality,” said Akash, the founder of Pehchaan school.
“It was such an informative event for the children and even for us,” said Tanaaya, a volunteer.
These messages from kids and volunteers made me realise how a simple act of card making can help create awareness among children at the initial stage. I wish I could have organized this activity with more children but I think every small step is required for a big change.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Finally, our team decided to distribute these lovely cards made by kids to different people the next day at Jama Masjid around 5:30 PM. They wanted to spread the message of kindness and tell everyone that India is a secular country.