Sunday, November 18, 2012

Diwali is Finally Here!!!

It’s DIWALI!!!!!!! Diwali starts with offering prayers to Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi. Here is Willie all set to participate in pooja (prayer session). He is just going to light the diyas (clay lamps) purchased at the bazaar.  Let’s get lucky!  As it’s a festival of lights and prosperity, in some parts of the Punjab region, it's considered lucky to buy lottery tickets. Just to keep up with the tradition , Willie was our lucky mascot with his very own lottery ticket.

Willie here is all set for our traditional Diwali pooja (prayer session).  Look at the fruit.  Remember when Ritika's mom brought in the miniature bananas for us to enjoy on Diwali?  This is a very traditional practice that occurs in lots of Indian homes.  Just think about how we were able to do something culturally similar to millions of people half-way around the world from us?  Pretty neat :)!

Finally it’s time to burst the fire crackers......YAY..... We all had so much fun bursting crackers... We are sure Willie enjoyed this experience of Diwali, the festival of lights in India.
The pics which we have sent are as per tradition generally followed in our region of Punjab... India, as you know, with its large population is a very culturally diverse and rich country. Every state has different traditions to celebrate Diwali. We hope Willie had as much fun on Diwali as we had by having him.

Here Comes Diwali!

To celebrate Diwali with the whole family, we went from Chandigarh to Dhuri, a town in Punjab. Willie accompanied us. Here he is, sharing space with statues of Lord Ganesha
(The Elephant God) and Goddess Lakshmi.

All bright and shiny.... Willie is in front of “Kandeel,” decorative lanterns made up of paper

It's time to get ready for the action!  As we prepared for Diwali, we bought firecrackers at the bazaar.  Willie even got to choose which "crackers" we purchased.  He chose the "eco-friendly" type.  Good for Willie :)!  

Willie here is with the potter, who made the “diya” with mud.   Diyas are small, clay pots that are used as little lamps at Diwali.  In India, they still make the diyas by hand. You can see the different types of diyas in front of Willie.

Question from Mr. Piper:
Based on our knowledge of Indian culture and the Indian economy, what is the term that is used to describe the type of industry commonly found in India where people make goods by hand either individually or alongside their families and neighbors in their villages?

Willie Having Fun With Statutes

Willie is having fun with the dancing statues. These statues are wearing the traditional dress of Punjab.  In India, every state has a different culture, hence their language, dress and customs change.

In this pic Willie is with statues from Bengal (Bride in red and Groom in white). In the background you will see a small prayer table with photos of Hindu gods and goddesses.

The Onset of Diwali

Onset of Diwali –Dhanteras
Two days before Diwali, Dhanteras is celebrated. On this day people buy things made up of metal (any kind of metal like gold, silver, bronze and iron) like utensils jewelery or vehicles. Willie participated in the Dhanteras festivities.

Willie helps make a rangoli

Rangoli are decorative designs made of flowers and/or colored sand.  Rangoli are often found during Diwali on doorsteps of houses and at the places where idols/pictures of gods/goddesses are kept to welcome them (the gods) during the Pooja (prayer time).  Ranglois were made with foot prints of Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Prosperity). From this day onward festivities for Diwali starts and people decorate their houses with lights and offering prayers to God with sweets and dry fruits.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Willie Celebrated Diwali in India

Happy Diwali to All 

Willie had great fun on Diwali here in India.

Willie learnt how to make Rangoli and made a beautiful one.
Wow!! Willie got a Lottery Ticket on this Diwali...
Willie went to see the market and bought lots of stuff to decorate our Home...
Willie did pooja (pray) with us on Diwali...
Willie busted some crackers too...

Here is a Teaser.......

Detailed log on 'How Willie celebrated his first Diwali in India' will be posted tomorrow... 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Willie Explores India!

Our furry friend Willie is enjoying his time in India, thanks to Ritika's aunt, Shakuntala.  Shakuntala took the following pictures and wrote descriptions of Willie's adventures thus far in India.  Right now, Willie is helping Shakuntala and her family prepare for the festival of Diwali.  Let's see what Willie's been up to.  Thanks to Shakutala for writing the following descriptions to the photos:

Siswa Dam:
Willie accompanied us to water reserve near  Siswa Dam. This place is in Himachal Pradesh, a hilly state of India.

Willie Goes to the Bazaar:
To help us do our Diwali shopping Willie came with us to Diwali bazaar and made friends with lots of local people, using his great Wildcat charm. In this pic, Willie is with Mitali, a girl from the state of West Bengal.   The streamers behind her are made by her parents.

 Which one to buy???  Thinking very hard... which one to buy???

Where is the treasure
At the same bazaar, Willie participated in a treasure hunting competition with us. Although we didn’t win..... Willie finally found the treasure! J

Willie’s visit to the park:
Since he has arrived at our home, Willie is a regular visitor at our local park.  You can watch him enjoying the rides and with his new friends.

Meet Some of Willie's new friends:(from left to Right  Shubhi, Teg and Avneet)

Mr. Piper's Questions for his students in Milwaukee, WI, USA:
Based on these pictures, let's think about the following questions:

1.  Based on your knowledge of India's land and climate, and especially the monsoons, why do you think water reserves are important to the people in India? 

2.  What is a bazaar?  What might a bazaar be similar to in Milwaukee?

3.  Why does Willie seem to have such a good time at the park?  

If you'd like to post a comment, please do so.  If so, log in under "anonymous" and use your first name and last initial.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Willie in Chandigarh

Our furry friend has arrived in Chandigarh, India.  Let's see what our pal Willie has been up to.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Willie the Wildcat is Officially Off to India!

As of yesterday afternoon, we received word that our fuzzy world traveler is officially off to India! In anticipation of Willie's arrival, please post a comment about at least one thing you think Willie is looking forward to seeing when he arrives in India.  Please include, with your comment your first name and last initial.

Willie will be traveling a distance of 7232.761 miles from Mequon, Wisconsin, USA where he was mailed to Chandigarh, India.  That's pretty far!

photo created by Addison E.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meet Willie the Wildcat:

This is Willie the Wildcat, and this is me, Mr. Piper (I'm the human and Willie is the plush pal, just in case there was any confusion).  Willie the Wildcat is our school's mascot.  

Willie the Wildcat has enjoyed a wonderful life here at University School of Milwaukee.  He enjoys the smiles and laughter of the students, especially Mr. Piper's fifth graders, whom he sees every day.  He enjoys exploring Mrs. DeTorre's fish tank and gazing at the beautiful coral.  
Willie the Wildcat enjoys eating lunch in our dining room.  Apples are one of his favorite foods.

However, Willie the Wildcat longs to see more than just the friendly confines of University School.  He wants to travel the world.

Thanks to his ol' pal Mr. Piper and Mr. Piper's students, Willie the Wildcat hopes to travel to the same places Mr. Piper's students are studying about this year to learn more about his greater world.

First stop: India
Willie the Wildcat has always enjoyed learning about the beautiful nation of India.  He has enjoyed looking at books about India.

He has even dreamed of having his picture taken in front of the Taj Mahal.

With the help of Mr. Piper's student, Ritika, Willie the Wildcat will have a chance to travel to India and arrive in time to celebrate the biggest holiday of the year in India- Diwali, the festival of the lights.  Willie the Wildcat is looking forward to his travels, hopefully getting some new Indian clothing, and experiencing Diwali first hand with Ritika's aunt, Shakuntala, in Chandigarh, India.

A Crazy Idea...

My name is Will Piper and I am a fifth grade social studies teacher at the University School of Milwaukee, an independent school for students grades PK-12 located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

The subject I teach in social studies is "world cultural geography."  Over the course of the school year, my students get a geographical survey of places around the world.  We start the year learning about Australia in August and September, then move on to India and South Asia in October and November, explore China in December, Japan and Southeast Asia in January, Africa (with a focus on Africa South of the Sahara Desert) in February and March, Europe in April and Mexico, Central and South America in May and June.  During each of these units, we explore our year long essential questions: "How does the physical geography of a place affect how people live in that place?" "How are cultures around the world similar and uniquely different?" and, "Why is understanding cultural diversity an important part of being a global citizen?"

Given the modern technology and wonderful global connections that we have with students that I teach this year, I had a crazy idea... what if we took a plush replica of our school's mascot, Willie the Wildcat, and literally sent him around the world to places at the same time we're studying them.  Students, teachers, and families alike could learn the wonderful value of cultural diversity by reading about Willie's travels and adventures on this blog.  Moreover, perhaps, if this project takes off, we could send other Willie dolls on trips around the world, or even have students take Willie with them on their travels.  Who knows where Willie could end up going.

As of now, however, here is our mission: Send Willie to travel and experience culture through people living in: India, China, Japan, West Africa, Germany, and Mexico, and have him end up back in Mr. Piper's classroom by the first part of June 2013.

Will Willie make it home?  We'll have to wait and see.  We hope that working with students' relatives, like-minded educators, and friends of the school that our dear pal Willie can enjoy his world travels and teach us about what culture is like in different places around the globe.

Follow this blog for pictures and updates of Willie's Travels.  This is "Where On Earth Is Willie!"