Diwali is a time for family, friends, festivities and lights, delicious foods and gifts galore. Diwali is also a time to remember our Indian heritage and to rekindle this traditional knowledge for the next generations. This becomes particularly true for the diaspora living abroad, away from their Indian roots.
With this aim in mind, Ishani Kantaria has founded her dream company, 108 Puzzles. 108 Puzzles brings stories from Hindu mythology to life, making them interactive and fun for children.
"I have a niece, who was six years old at the time. And she was learning the Hanuman Chalisa, which my whole family have been chanting for many years. I realised that she was uttering this extraordinary, powerful prayer. I wanted to find a way so she would understand what it meant. And that's how the idea of 108 Puzzles came to me," said Kantaria.
Passionately involved every step of the way, Kantaria explained the process of creating these jigsaw puzzles.
"I come up with an idea or any scene or character from our Hindu mythology. I then look for the appropriate professionals to give tangible shape to my ideas. A lot of people are involved in illustrations, manufacturing and packaging. This is how each puzzle set is born," explained Kantaria.
London-based Kantaria is Pujya Ram Bapa's granddaughter and was born in the UK in a renowned and respected traditional family.
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"My grandfather is a big inspiration in my life. I've grown up hearing him chanting Hanuman Chalisa my entire life," reminisced Kantaria.
She has chosen to include the religious significance of the number 108 in Hindu rituals in her company's name.
"We have a very rich culture and religion. And there's so much that we can learn from it. I guess I'm doing this in the first place because I've seen the benefit of the power of prayer.
I'm not doing it for a living; I have a full-time finance job. But I'm very passionate about this project. I feel this is necessary for the next generations and parents. Most of the parents of our time are working, and they remain busy. Sometimes, even they don't know the entire story of our mythology. So I aim to help everyone, really," said Kantaria.
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"I'm trying to learn more as I go and share the knowledge with everyone," she added.
Notably, Kantaria had shared several online videos teaching kids bhajans and prayers throughout the pandemic lockdown.
The puzzle sets come with English translations of the related stories and prayers in a simplified format for the kids to quickly contextualise and understand.
"That idea is that kids can learn the prayers, put together the pieces, and understand more about what it means. These puzzles are the first of their kind, telling stories through puzzles," she said.
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The puzzle sets have 63 pieces for younger kids or 108 for 8-year-olds and above. These include topics like 'Rama's Story, 'Hanuman's story', Ambe Ma, Shri Krishna, Bal Ganesha and many more.
"We've launched a circular Rangoli puzzle this Diwali. It comes in two different versions for younger and older kids. One has a diya in the middle, and another one with a Peacock. These would be perfect for the festive period and Diwali decorations," she informed.
These jigsaw puzzle sets can also be a great bonding exercise between the kids and the grandparents at this time of the year.
*Info: 108 Puzzles