Sunday, January 8, 2017

Indian Festivals 2017


Now that it's a new year, it's time to fill in our calendars with important dates and festivals. If you're living abroad and your partner is Indian, it's easy to lose track of when all the holidays are. I hope you'll find this handy guide helpful!

As always, it's best to ask your partner what festivals their family celebrates. This is a general guide that may differ by region, as well as religion.

Indian Festivals 2017

January 14 - Pongal / Lohri
January 26 - Republic Day
February 24 - Maha Shivratri
March 13 - Holi
March 29 - Ugadi
April 14 - Vaisakhi / Tamil New Year
May 10 - Buddha Purnima
June 26 - Ramadan
July 26 - Teej
August 7 - Rakhi
August 14 - Krishna Janmashtami
August 15 - Independence Day
August 25 - Ganesh Chaturthi
September 1 - Eid
September 4 - Onam
September 21 - Navratri
September 28 - Durga Puja
September 30 - Dussehra
October 2 - Gandhi's birthday
October 8 - Karwa Chauth
October 17 - Dhanteras
October 19 - Diwali
November 4 - Guru Nanak birthday

See how we've celebrated Republic Day, Holi, Tamil New Year, Rakhi, Ganesh Chaturthi, and Diwali!

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Which festivals are big in your Indian families?
Please let me know if I've missed anything!

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Losing Our Family Dog


Last year we had a lot of traumatic events happen in our family that I was really glad to ring in 2017 and welcome a new, fresh year. Unfortunately, we had some more trauma right after New Year's. On none other than husband-ji & I's 11 year anniversary, our beloved dog Ziggy passed away. He died of a sudden acute heart attack and was gone in a mere 6 minutes. He literally dropped dead out of the blue. 


He was only 6 years old and in many ways he was our first baby. We shared so many amazing memories with him in his short years on Earth. One of the things I love about husband-ji is that he loves animals, especially dogs. As soon as we started dating, we always dreamed about getting a dog together. Sometimes we'd look up different breeds and look at dog YouTube videos at night and muse about which one we'd want. In 2010, we rented a little house which the landlord said "dogs allowed". We looked at a lot of different breeds, but then decided on a smaller family dog that was affectionate, but didn't shed - a Havanese. We found a breeder in the countryside who was welcoming a new litter and they had one pup left - a little black and white spotted dog that was nicknamed "Oreo". We put down a deposit and got all our supplies together, binge watching episodes of Cesar Millan's dog training and getting books from the library.


He was perfect. Full of life and affection, we named him "Ziggy" and took him everywhere with us. He came with us to work during the day, and after we would take him to the dog park. He slept in our bed with us - nuzzled right between us. He followed us everywhere and was a wonderful companion. Walking him several times a day gave our lives a pleasant routine that cleared our head of any life stresses that were hurled at us over the years. He was sleeping in the bed beside me when my water broke and I went into labor with Maya.


When we had Maya, he was so protective over her. He used to sit and watch her play, crawl, and walk and never leave her side, even when I had to get things from another room. After a long walk, Maya would often fall asleep in the stroller and I would park her in the living room, and Ziggy dutifully slept right beside her stroller until she woke up.


When I was suffering from the stress of trying to conceive my second child, I used to take Ziggy for long 4 km walks in the woods with me. Being in the forest with him and seeing all the other dog walkers cleared my mind of any stress that I was having, and he also offered protection to me as a woman walking alone.


When my dad's health started deteriorating, Ziggy lived with him as a therapy dog and companion. He encouraged him to walk and gave his life a positive routine. In many ways he was a service dog to my dad.


Days ago, we just shared a wonderful Christmas with him at our place. He played with Maya, my father-in-law walked him, and he slept in our room at night right beside our baby's bassinet. I loved having him over and I dreamed about how it would be when we all lived together in our new building - that he could just go upstairs/downstairs between my parents' place and our place. I thought that we'd at least have another 10 years with him and that Maya (and the new baby) would grow up with him.


 We all feel awful and we were all crying this week, especially husband-ji. The worst part of it was hearing husband-ji wailing about it, as he never cries about anything. He is not easily shaken, and to see him break down was absolutely heartbreaking. Although I do feel like losing Ziggy has brought us closer - we are stumbling into each other with a kinder, softer,  greater sensitivity. I can't even allow myself to get too upset about it since I only have a few weeks left before my delivery. I have no idea how to tell Maya that Ziggy passed away. Right now, I'm just trying to concentrate on all the good times we had together, and what an amazing friend he was - not just to our family, but to everyone he met.


Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.” - John Grogan

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Pictures!

A little peek at our year in pictures...


We kicked off 2016 in none other than the beautiful Hawaii...


Where we celebrated our 10 year anniversary in a grand way...


And we got to spend some amazing, relaxing time together as a family...


Shortly after, our apartment building construction finally got started...


In the Spring, we stayed home and explored...


And also ventured off to Portland to explore...


I started doing more complex art projects with Maya...



Maya got a new little cousin, Siddharth....




My in-law's arrived in Canada permanently...


We celebrated Maya's 4th birthday...


And we told her she was going to be a big sister...


We did a lot of swimming over the Summer...


Husband-ji grew a big beard which I loved so much, I demanded him to keep forever...


We did a lovely family trip to the Okanagan...


We celebrated family birthdays all together...


We finally took Maya for her first-ever hair cut...


Our co-worker got a new doggy, Archie...


We spent the majority of the Fall in hospitals as our parents underwent difficult medical procedures...


But luckily my mother-in-law made it home by Thanksgiving...


Maya got really good at ballet...


We snuck away for a much-needed vacation to Disneyland, the happiest place on Earth...


And made it back just in time for Halloween...


And Diwali...


We got some amazing family pictures taken...


Maya got so good at her artwork that it was routinely hung on display as the best in class...


December was a blur of weekly snowstorms...


As we prepared for Christmas...


And rang in 2017 and all the good things yet to come!

Happy New Year to all my readers around the globe! Wishing you a blessed & fun 2017!

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Friday, December 30, 2016

Our Christmas Celebrations 2016


This year, our Christmas celebrations were quite simple and joyous. My in-law's have celebrated Christmas with us many times before, but this is the first year that they have been officially living with us, so they really got to see the full seasonal preparations from start to finish. November was such a dark & dreary month that as soon as December rolled around we were grateful to be uplifted by all the Christmas cheer.

First, we started by decorating our Christmas tree and sending out our annual Christmas cards. Maya and husband-ji decorated the tree, and my mother-in-law and I got all the cards ready. 


This year, we also had a lot of heavy snowstorms which was fun for Maya and my in-law's to experience. Maya loved building snowmen and having snowball fights. Both of my in-law's dislike cold weather, however they found the snow to be quite wondrous once they were all bundled up.


Then, we spent the month of December visiting the Christmas Market, seeing Disney on Ice, the Nutcracker ballet, and the Cirque du Soleil. Maya had never seen any of these performances before and I wanted to wait until she was a good age and could sit through it. She absolutely loved them and she is a huge fan of live shows and music. It was really fun to take her, as it is something that husband-ji and I enjoy doing as a couple and now that she is old enough, she can join us too.

(My cousins & I on Christmas Day)

This year, with my pregnancy being in the third trimester, I was not able to do as much so I really scaled back. Husband-ji did the majority of the work from decorating to doing all the Christmas shopping, which was a big relief for me. A week before Christmas, I fell and sprained my ankle so I just spent the whole time at home with my foot elevated. It was actually a blessing in disguise because I was forced to rest and stay home, rather than go outside and exhaust myself dealing with all the frenzied shoppers. By Christmas Day, my ankle was a lot better and it was great to celebrate it calmly after having a week of rest.



On Christmas Eve, Maya and I made Martha Stewart's sugar cookies...and Maya basically did the whole thing from start to finish and I was basically her assistant! She loves to bake and she was very excited about it. We laid out the cookies and milk for Santa along with her note. Right before bed, my mother-in-law read all the Christmas books to Maya about baby Jesus' birth - multiculturalism at it's finest!

A video posted by Alexandra Madhavan (@madhmama) on

Christmas morning was very exciting, as always, as we opened up all the gifts. The majority of them were for Maya, as none of us really needed or wanted anything in particular. She loved all the toys she got and has been busy playing with all of them since.


We always have this tradition on Christmas Day to cook a nice Indian brunch, followed by a traditional Canadian Turkey dinner at my aunt's house. This year, my mother-in-law made the most delicious chole puri for Christmas brunch, and everyone had more than one plate! In the evening, we ventured to my aunt's for Christmas dinner which had a lot of great vegetarian options other than turkey.


It really was a lovely, calm Christmas season that was the perfect end to a crazy year. Since then, we have been busy de-cluttering our apartment and re-arranging furniture as we prepare for our new little arrival next month!

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Dear readers, how was your Christmas this year?
What were your favorite parts of the season?

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