Happy New Year! For my first post of 2019, I'll do what I was doing in 2018: reviewing books that promote diversity. Be they diverse characters, cultures, religions, abilities and orientations.
The Boy & The Bindi features Indian characters and is from the Indo-Canadian & living in my hometown, Vivek Shraya. As I'm South Asian myself and have bindis of every hue, this book piqued my interest. And since bindis are a sign of female beauty and womanhood, the boy wearing a bindi struck me as hinting at gender fluidity. How interesting!
It got me to ask the question: Why or why cannot a boy wear a bindi? Why is it the woman who carries around the burden of remembering the teachings of our culture, in a foreign land? Did I just stumble upon a feminist picture book?
The boy in this story wants to wear a bindi like his beloved Ammi, mother, as it binds them to their cultural and religious heritage and their ancestors. While the bindi makes the Boy stand out, it also makes him unique as he is wearing the pride of his heritage and his love for his mother on his sleeve...err... forehead. And the boy gets to teach his Canadian classmates about his bindi too.
The illustrations are sparse yet it has the colours that our nighttime dreams could be made of.
Would you let your sons wear bindis?
- Go shopping for bindis and wear them together. How does it make you feel?
- Discuss how do men and boys from South Asia wear & show their cultural and religious heritage? How do you and your family display your cultural & religious heritage in your outfits? What do you or don't you like about your cultural outfits?