Lanterns & Birthdays

Konnichiha (pronounced as konnichiwa, “hello” in Japanese)!

As parents, we hope to rear compassionate, loving, generous children- not just life long learners. The essence of the well-rounded individual… I see the process beginning to form with Nishad. There have been so many moments when my heart beams with pride. Already, he speaks softly, with kind and gentle words and is so careful not to hurt any one’s feelings intentionally. Today, while at the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival in Saint Paul, I told him of how I always wanted a ‘twisty’ sucker, but my parents never gave me one. He looked at me with those big,brown eyes filled with love and compassion and said, “Momma, you can get one. Have a lick from mine.” I took him up on that offer- and we both laughed after.

This was our first year attending the Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival, although it’s been charted on our calender since April! We planned out entire summer out in advance this year as we had such a long winter- we wanted to soak up as much of the summer as possible. We will definitely be saving the date for next year’s festival! This was an amazing festival and cultural buffet for the mind! There were so many people from varying backgrounds. Wonderful performers delighted audiences, Japanese traditional clothing and crafts abound and amazing food to satisfy any crowd. We had sushi (salmon, shrimp), Inar (a type of sweet rice and tofu served in a type of pastry boat), vegetable egg roll, vegetable rice, crab ragoon, chicken on a skewer (hot, hot, hot and a little sweet!) and too much green tea! Nishad had a blast playing the Japanese fish game (He won a train and a mat for the train- surely made in China, though from the Japanese festival!). Both boys really enjoyed the Japanese drums. Anything that involves music and they are instantly captivated. There was a traditional lion dance that Nishad and I went up close to watch. I gave Nishad a dollar to feed the lion.

Here’s where my faith in humanity has been fully restored, by the act of another small boy, who was about the age of 9 or 10. We were standing waiting to feed the lion (as anyone wanting good-luck would do!) and a ton of kids crowded around us (the lion was headed for Nishad) and pushed by. Being that we try to teach Nishad not to be obnoxious, loud, or rude, I simply held his hand and silently thought, “Ok, obviously we will all get a chance to ‘feed’ the lion” without pushing our way forth. Just then this boy grabs Nishad’s hand and announces, “Make way please! We’re coming through to feed the lion. We have money to give the lion.” Just like that, kids moved…it was like the parting of the sea…Not knowing who this other child was, I let go of Nishad’s hand, taking a breath and I trusted that things would be okay. Just as I got a little nervous that my baby, who was towered over by a lot of bigger kids, would be pushed or stepped on (as the crowd started growing again and pushing forward), I heard a voice say, “Make way please! We are done feeding the lion and need to step out of every ones way.” I suddenly saw this boy appear, with Nishad in tow. Nishad then told me about how he fed the lion and how he put his fingers in the lions mouth. To ‘feed’ the lion brings good luck upon you. Many returns to that little boy befriended Nishad.

On to the Lamp Lighting! We staked out a spot prior to the event by leaving our blankets in front. Our view didn’t disappoint. What a beautiful ceremony. As a matter of fact, I was so surprised when I Nishad and I approached the man that lit lanterns to find him so friendly. He had a nice little conversation with Nishad and even spoke in Hindi to him (he knew some Japanese too). Nishad instantly put his hand together when he said, “Namaste” after we explained that the name Nishad is a Hindi name, meaning the note of “Ni” in Hindi, which converted on the Western musical scale is “Ti.” He told Nishad how beautiful and unique his name is and Nishad had such a proud smile.
Later, during the ceremony, I walked over to take a picture. The same man turned to me as he was lowering lanterns into the water after lighting them and said, “Is there anyone that you would like to dedicate a lantern to in memory of?” My heart smiled with this gesture as my eyes began to swell with the out pour of emotion. “Yes, my mother, Wanda,” I said. In such a peaceful and respectful voice, he raised the lantern and said, “This one is for Wanda.” I watched her lantern drift, until I couldn’t see the outline of the lantern anymore- only the light from the lantern was visible. (Her lantern is pictured with the man placing it into the water.)

Ashish and I were such late night owls! Reminded me of our dating days. We haven’t been out this late with the kids, since before Arun was born. We stopped over at Taco Bell on the way home and looked at one another while waiting in the drive-through, “We haven’t been here in a LONG time!” Yes, it was at least 2 years. We were back by 10PM. All in all a GREAT day.

We had two birthday parties this weekend! On Saturday we went to Elm Creek to celebrate Jaxson’s birthday- Nishad’s friend who lives down the block. He turned 3 years old. We always enjoy seeing the Bean’s and their family is so nice to chat with. Jaxson shared his new toys with Nishad and they “drove” them all around the park. Both Nishad and Arun needed baths by the time we came home!

Today, we also celebrated another friend’s birthday that lives down the block, Baby Lucas! Who is no longer a baby as he is now on the go, go, go and 1! Lucas sure isn’t short on supplies for toys! Nishad knew exactly where his house was as there was a big bouncy house in front. They are another family that has such nice relatives that made us feel right at home- such gracious people.

PS Check out the upside down draggon in the cloud picture? 🙂

2 thoughts on “Lanterns & Birthdays

  1. What an amazing evening! You bet I am going to try and come next year! You can’t pass up luck, friends and sushi! I love you!

  2. You would love the demonstration of the art of Japanese fabric dye. There was even a place that could could be fitted and purchse traditional clothing. The tea was wonderful and I know what a fan of tea you are!

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