Burka Avenger: An American Pakistani Mom’s Dream Come True

 

My 2 year old and 4 year old are in their superhero stage.

This means that their  constantly  shooting webs at me with their tiny fingers,  flying around the kitchen island with their palms turned out (Iron Man) and randomly yelling out “Super Heroes save the day” when I’m on the phone trying to make a good impression with a potential employer.

So when my newsfeed started buzzing about this new Pakistani kids show called “Burka Avengers” I was interested. My first thoughts were:

1. Wow!  a female superhero that wears a Burqa

2. Positive coverage of Pakistan in the news

3. Where do I watch this show?

This Pakistani animated kids show had gotten some great media coverage, I had read the Huffington post article, seen a piece on BBC and heard an interview with the creator of Burka Avenger on NPR. That same night I watched the first episode.

 I was impressed. It was smart, tongue in cheek, entertaining and it has a super catchy title song.

The main story of Burka Avenger is that of an orphan girl, Jiya, who was raised by a kind man (Kabbadi Jaan) who has taught her a fusion karate form called Takht Kabbadi. This martial art style is based  on education and karate moves. Jiya is a teacher at a school but she is most fearful of the mayor and villain Vadero Pajero ( oh yes the stereotypical corrupt Pakistani politician) who is constantly trying to disrupt the education of women in his city.

As a first generation American Pakistani mother I want to raise my boys as proud Americans but I also want them to have a understanding of their Pakistani heritage as well as their Muslim identity.

Burka Avengers may just be what Parents like me need to help us accomplish these monumental goals

The show manages to teach our kids Urdu, take away the stigma and negative sterotypes of the Burqa, expose our  kids to Pakistani culture and raises important issues about gender equality.

So while my boys will still continue to transform into Octomus Prime and have superpowers like  Captain America its refreshing to know that they will grow up with a female superhero who wears a burka and battles bad guys with her Takht Kabbadi.

Kuddos to the Burka Avenger team we look forward to more episodes!

Halal Pumpkins…What?!?

As the holiday season is in full swing with glittering christmas trees, cooler weather and festive holiday lattes at starbucks I am reminded why I love this time of the year. As adults we enjoy the atmosphere but kids may not understand why we don’t have a christmas tree, or why Santa didn’t visit us this year. This may be  a challenge for families who have young kids and who are trying to build their Muslim Identities.

As a first generation American Muslim with a South Asian heritage, defining our family’s Identity has been an interesting process. As a mother of a curious three year old I am now faced with hard questions about traditions that I have grown up around but never thought as my own. This becomes particularly tricky as the children go to school and learn about different holidays. Although going to an Islamic preschool has made things easier it also means that I have to decide how to frame things for my curious toddlers.

A few months ago I was pushed into a sort of an identity crisis when Humza went to the fall festival with his school and came back with a grin and a pumpkin which would cause more trouble than I could have ever imagined As Humza excitedly jumped out of the mini-bus that had transported him from the Farm back to the school, I could see that he was clutching this little pumpkin like a shiny new toy, “Momma, see pumpkin.” He proudly raised it  to show me.

I nodded excitedly and wrestled the pumpkin from his hands to get him into the carseat, which caused the pumpkin to roll underneath of a parked mini van. The tears were streaming down Humza’s face and Hassan his younger brother joined in also now wanting that same orange pumpkin which was now somewhere underneath of that van. I quickly strapped the kids in and told the lady who was speaking in Arabic on her cell phone that I was going to go under her van since my kid had dropped his pumpkin. She nodded enthusiastically and I hoped she was nodding to me and not just agreeing with the person whom she was speaking on the phone with. Saying a quick Bismallah I got down on my hands and knees (ahh this reminds me why all my jeans have rips in them) and grabbed the pumpkin.

Tired kids, worn out mother and a little pumpkin in tow, we finally headed home. After the novelty of a little orange pumpkin wore off I had to decide what to do with that thing. Would I display it proudly outside my front door? Put it on my mantle on top of the fireplace? Make a Jack-O-Lantern? What do I do with a pumpkin??

I eventually put it on the fireplace it was so odd but I figured it would be out of the kids reach, I wrestled with the idea of putting it outside my door like other people do as part of the of their fall decorations. But then I didn’t because I was hesitant that I would be acting to “white.”  “Desi people don’t put pumpkins outside of their house,” I thought to myself. After some time when the pumpkin craze died down and the kids forgot to fight over the poor little pumpkin who was probably very thankful for the decision I had made to put him on the fireplace, I approached the subject of the final resting place for the pumpkin again.

After a few strong chai’s and some moments of clarity  I’ve finally made peace with the pumpkin. It is finally at rest on my dining table with some other fall folliage decor and my  little glittering rickshaw.

I haven’t figured out all the answers to how I want to balance and incorporate traditions from Pakistan as well as our American culture but I have a feeling that i’ll figure it out. Now I just need to break the news to the kiddos that the lights my neighbors have put up are in fact not Eid lights. One baby…step at a time.