No cakes, only fruits on birthdays in Mumbai school

Oct 03, 2012, 06:54 IST | Kranti Vibhute

While schools across the country remembered Mahatma Gandhi's contributions to the nation on the occasion of his 143rd birth anniversary, teachers at Jumbo Podar Kids school have decided not to limit celebrations to just a single day, but to make Bapu's values a part and parcel of life in the school.

One of the means to this end is to adopt a wholesome and healthy approach to celebrating birthdays of kids in the school. 

 A child distributes fruits to other children in his class at Podar Jumbo to mark his birthday
Doing it Gandhiji’s way: A child distributes fruits to other children in his class at Podar Jumbo to mark his birthday

Fanning Gandhigiri
In an attempt to encourage Bapu’s principles of simple living and healthy eating among the kids growing up in an increasingly material world, the school authorities have decided that kids celebrating their birthdays will distribute fresh fruits and books as return gifts rather than chocolates and or other fancy items.

The decision to reform birthday celebrations in the school came after several parents complained about their increased sugar intake, thanks to all the chocolates and cakes that were being distributed by kids on their birthdays to their classmates. They also complained that this was encouraging materialism among the kids.

No sweets policy
Confirming the change in policy, Swati Popat Vats, Director of Podar preschools and the President of the Early Childhood Association, said, “A child can come dressed in whatever he or she chooses. However, we shall not allow any cakes, chocolates or sweets kind to be distributed. Only fresh fruits will be served.”

She added that the price of the books that are distributed as return gifts cannot exceed Rs 100 and the choice would have to be approved by the teacher.

“The school will now have a unique birthday ritual called the Birthday Walk, which is based on Maria Montessori’s concepts. Parents must join
in the celebration at school and siblings are welcome too. Parents will have to bring along photos of the child from birth, which will be
displayed as part of the ritual.”

Parents happy
Most parents have welcomed the new policy. Deepa Panchal, mother of a student in kindergarten, said, “It’s a good policy that will allow children to learn how to share and care and the real meaning of a birthday. It will also help children understand that birthdays aren’t just about presents and gifts.”

Dr Shilpee Sachar, another parent, echoed Panchal’s sentiments, saying, “I celebrated my child’s birthday in a new way and it was nice. There were no expensive gifts, no sweets – just wholesome healthy celebrations.”

What the survey revealed
The Podar Jumbo Kids conducted a survey among 200 parents about the celebrations of birthdays. According to the survey, 80 per cent of the participants said that birthdays were small family affairs where the mother organised the entire fare. Around 20 per cent said they did not celebrate birthdays. 85 per cent said that birthdays were a big source of stress in the family.  

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