Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weddings: Celebrations Uniting Families

Written by Guest Blogger
Zainab Sulemanjee

As Muslims, many festive celebrations and rituals govern our lives. From the colourful clothes on Eid ul Fitr to the mouthwatering delicacies prepared on Eid ul Adha, we love celebrating our rituals with feelings of love, compassion and sharing. Similarly our family celebrations are also a reflection of the religious values and cultural norms present in our religion and society. The one celebration that I feel sets us apart from many other communities and cultures, is our weddings, which are not only vibrant and colourful, but deep rooted in tradition. Weddings in our part of the world are a family affair. From the initial preparation of the bride’s clothes to the food we serve, each and every detail is tended to with intricate care.

I am a working mom. Wedding preparations are joyful but require an immense amount of time, dedication and commitment. Last year, my younger sister was getting married. As the eldest sibling, I was appointed by my mom to supervise all prenuptial affairs and arrangements. Juggling between work, home, my kids and the wedding was very challenging. The invitation list was carefully constructed, cards were printed and dispatched, venue and caterer were booked, gifts for the groom and his family were purchased, the photographer and event management company were finalised, the bride’s clothes and jewelry decided as per theme of each event, and more. I also had to prepare my clothes, keep up with kids’ exams and activities, and create an agenda for guests from abroad. All in a burning hot climate. I was completely drained out before the wedding functions actually began.

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Our weddings generally last a week or two due to the numerous functions from the Milad to Dholki, Mehendi, Sangeet, Barat, Valima and many others which differ in their rituals, dress codes and arrangements. One function is the Mehendi ceremony, symbolised by a bright yellow/ orange colour and beautiful floral d├ęcor. A professional henna artist applies intricate henna on the hands and feet of the bride as a symbol of beauty, happiness and spiritual awakening. I was so preoccupied that I forgot to book a henna artist. Once guests started pouring in, someone mentioned the significance of the henna colour and its application, and realized I had forgotten a key aspect of the celebration. Determined to set things straight, I frantically called a few friends and finally managed to find an available budding henna artist. Since she was the only one I could get my hands on, I readily agreed to her rates. Apprehensive at first about how the designs would turn out, she amazed me with her skilful techniques and modern creativity. After a fun filled evening of music, dance and of course henna, I was relieved that everything went smoothly.  Sometimes it’s for the best that people don’t know everything that happens behind the scenes to pull of celebrations.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Congrats! ABC Is Trailblazing Path for Asians on TV With ‘Fresh Off the Boat,’ ‘Dr. Ken,’ ‘Quantico’

The network will feature 18 Asian series regular characters this season and a record three shows with lead actors of Asian heritage
The success of ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” has paved the way for an explosion of actors of Asian heritage on the network — and across broadcast TV.
ABC will feature 18 Asian series regular characters during the 2015-16 season, according to findings by the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC). That number beats the previous record set by NBC in 2008, when the network featured 16 Asian characters across its shows.
ABC will also be the first network in history to have three shows featuring first-billed Asian leads on the air at the same time. In addition to “Fresh Off the Boat,” the network is also debuting “Dr. Ken,” a comedy featuring “Hangover” star Ken Jeong, while Sunday night saw the premiere of FBI thriller “Quantico,” headlined by Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra.
This article is re-published from its original source.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Why the Fujimini Adventure Series Is Great For Teaching Children About Asian Culture

Eileen Wacker created her children’s book series, Fujimini Adventure Series, with a purpose in mind- to provide a series that was entertaining and educational for children but also to provide an avenue for children to learn about Asian cultures. During her time living in South Korea, she noticed a deficit in the availability of english language books that taught about Eastern culture and tradition. To remedy this situation, Wacker came up with the idea for her series, a collection of books with different plots but all with an Asian flare. 

Each book introduces a new tradition, legend, or aspect of Asian culture to readers. Many of the books expose children to an Asian tradition that they may not have otherwise been exposed to. 

For example, inBlack Tortoise and the Dynasty Dragon’, the children are introduced to new characters, such as the Dynasty Dragon, as well as new terminology, like a Turtle Boat. 

In Silent Samurai and the Magnificent Rescue’, children not only learn about samurai warriors but also fun facts like how purple is the color of royalty in Japan. 

Blue Penguin and the Sensational Surf’ introduces a new character with a deep connection to Asian culture and legend, the Kappa. Not only is the Kappa very culturally significant, but it is also a unique addition to literature, especially children’s books. 
Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco follows the trend of all Wacker’s other stories by incorporating a very important Asian holiday into the plot. Children who read this book will learn all about Chinese New Year Celebrations and the importance of fireworks and firecrackers as a part of New Year celebrations.

'Red Penguin and the Missing Sushialso introduces children to a new Asian holiday, the Moon Festival Celebration; a traditional Chinese harvest festival. In addition to introducing the holiday itself, the story also integrates many important features of the holiday, such as the food. Of course, Sushi, which can be guessed from the title, but some other foods as well, such as Moon Cakes! 

One of my favorite features about Eileen Wacker’s series that makes the books unique, other than the Asian theme, is the glossary that she has at the end of each story. This addition to each book provides a way for children to not only be introduced to an Asian tradition, holiday, or legend but to learn even more about it at the end of the story.  

This book series provides a wonderful avenue to teach your children about other cultures and traditions while being fun, cute, and entertaining at the same time! 

Click here to learn more about Eileen Wacker and the Fujimini Adventure Series 

Monday, July 27, 2015

How “Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco” Teaches Children About Consequences

Each book in Eileen Wacker’s "Fujimini Adventure Series” provides children with fun and entertainment but also integrates lessons and elements of other cultures into the story lines. In “Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco”, Wacker not only has the children laughing along with the Rainbow Panda’s silliness, but also teaches them an important lesson about how actions can have consequences as well as the importance of listening and following certain rules. 

The sixth book in the series is an excellent example of a story that uses lessons like teamwork, problem solving, and good listening skills to help children learn while they have fun. Due to their curious nature, children can sometimes have difficulty hearing the word “no” and always following the rules, which can lead to unintended problems. Rainbow Panda, a mischievous and adventurous Panda, is a character that many children can relate to and learn from. The storyline demonstrates how good teamwork and friendships can usually create a happy ending even when problems arise. 

In addition to lessons about listening and learning consequences, Wacker incorporates many cultural elements in her storyline that may be unfamiliar to most American children, such as the customs behind Asian New Year celebrations. This unique feature helps children learn a little about cultures and traditions other than their own. 

A summary of the book:

Rainbow Panda is just itching to cause some trouble as the other Pandas on the island prepare for the New Year’s celebration. While all the Pandas are busy sweeping, cleaning, planting flowers, and writing wishes on ribbons, Rainbow Panda is busy concocting a plan that turns him into a hero. One of the most exciting parts of the New Year celebration is the fireworks display of course, but this year Rainbow Panda wants to put on a fireworks display of his own. To set his plan in motion he tries to get the help of Green Hamster, who is always eager for excitement. Will his explosive plan turn him into the New Years hero he hopes to become or just cause a whole lot of trouble? 

The book is available in print or as an ebook!

Click here to learn more about Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco or purchase from Amazon

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Why Every Child Can Relate to ‘Green Hamster and the Quest For Fun’

For children, summertime means swimming, exploring the outdoors, trying new things and most of all- lots of adventure. 

This is something that Green Hamster from Eileen Wacker’s Fujimini Adventure Series can certainly relate to. Green Hamster’s eagerness to explore, restlessness, and determination to have fun not only makes him a cute and likable character, but also a representation of many children out there. One of the most admirable qualities in a child is his or her eagerness and curiosity, but we all know that sometimes that can get them into some trouble! In his quest for fun, Green Hamster is no different.

The first installment of the Fujimini Adventure Series is a great book for summer because it is relatable, funny, and will have kids ready for their own adventure. And like the other books in the series, a small but important lesson is integrated into the story as well. 

A summary of the book:

Energetic and restless Green Hamster becomes bored with the daily activities of him and his other hamster friends and he becomes convinced that all the other animals on Fujimini Island are having way more fun. So he sets off seeking a day filled with adventure and excitement. His goal of his quest is to find which group of animals have the most fun on the Island, but meets some unexpected challenges along the way. Who do you think he decides has the most fun on the Island?

This book is available in print, for the kindle, or as an animated book.

Click here to learn more or to purchase Green Hamster and the Quest For Fun

Click below to watch the trailer for the new animated book:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why Pink Hamster and the Big Birthday Surprise is the Perfect Book For Every Little Girl’s Birthday

Every little girl dreams about waking up on her birthday and feeling like a princess. Birthdays are very special to children because it is a time where they feel like the center of attention and able to do whatever they choose to for that day. 

For Pink Hamster of Fujimini Island, her birthday is no different. Just like every other little girl, Pink Hamster has been counting down the days till her special day and can’t wait to celebrate. When the morning finally arrives, she wakes up filled with excitement and ready for the festivities to begin. Pink Hamster’s obsession with birthday cake is also something many little girls can relate to! 

This book is perfect for all little girls for their birthday this summer, because it is something they can enjoy and relate to. In addition to a fun book about birthday celebrations, Pink Hamster and the Big Birthday Surprise also comes with some unexpected lessons about patience and not making assumptions. 

A summary about the book:

The fourth installation in Eileen Wacker’s Fujimini Island Adventure Series, stars the adorable and peppy Pink Hamster who is beside herself with excitement when she wakes up ready to celebrate her birthday. Her absolute favorite part about her birthday is the cake- so much so that she has been dreaming about it all night. As soon as Pink Hamster wakes up she races to find all her Fujimini Island friends to start her big day. Thoughts of singing, parties, dancing, presents, and of course cake fill her mind. When she finally stumbles upon her hamster friends, she realizes that no one seems to have even remembered her birthday, even her best friend Green Hamster. Is this going to turn out to be the worst birthday ever or do her friends have a little something up their sleeve?

The book is available in print or as an ebook!

Click here to read more about the series or to purchase Pink Hamster and the Big Birthday Surprise 

Why Blue Penguin and the Sensational Surf is the Perfect Summer Reading For Kids

Summer is at its peak right now with beautiful weather, sunshine, and plenty of time for relaxation. The end of July and beginning of August is also one of the most popular times for parents to take off from work and take their families on vacation. Family vacations usually entail beach visits, long car rides, and lots of downtime- and you know what is perfect for all three of those things? Reading! 

Blue Penguin and the Sensational Surf is the perfect book for long car rides to get your kids excited for their upcoming vacation. As suggested by the title, Blue Penguin and the Sensational Surf is filled with adventure, action, sun, surfing, and beaches. What better way to get your kids reading and get them pumped up for vacation than that? 

In addition to fun and adventure, the seventh installment of Eileen Wacker’s book series comes with some important lessons too. Blue Penguin is an amazing surfer, but when he starts showing off too much and bragging, there are some unexpected consequences! A new character with a connection to Japanese culture and tradition also introduces kids to some elements of Asian culture that they might not get outside of reading this book. 

A summary of the book:

The animals who call Fujimini Island home are all buzzing with excitement because today is the grand opening of the Fujimini Island Surf School. Many of the animals are eager to learn to surf, and everyone is eager to watch Blue Penguin display the surf skills he is known for. 
The penguins are hard at work getting everything ready for the special occasion, preparing drinks and hanging ribbons to welcome their guests. The time has finally come for the grand opening, and more guests than Blue Penguin expected have shown up to watch and participate. Blue Penguin is proud of his skills and just can’t resist showing off to the crowd. Unfortunately, Blue Penguin is so busy showing off he doesn’t notice that a stranger has arrived on Fujimini Island and one of the animals may be in some trouble! Who is this stranger? And will Blue Penguin stop showing off in time to notice that one of his students is in trouble?

This book is available in print as well as an ebook! 

Click here to learn more about the series or purchase Eileen Wacker’s Blue Penguin and the Sensational Surf