Interviews, Meet the author

Bhakti Mathur on Amma, Tell Me About Diwali

Bhakti Mathur’s popular Amma Tell Me series of books is the perfect way to get introduce your child to various festivals and mythological stories. Her Amma, Tell Me About Diwali is part of our Countdown to Diwali Giveaway. To know more about how Bhakti celebrates Diwali, read on…

Where did you grow up?

I grew-up in Delhi.  Delhi can be a tough city for a girl from a middle class family.  It is a city that also makes you strong and independent. I think that’s what I got out of growing up there.  That apart, when I think about Delhi the images that flash across my mind are the changing seasons – the nip in the air in October, the smell of the flowers in spring, eating ‘golgappas’ at South Extension, hanging out in Janpath, the hot chocolate fudge at Nirula’s, traveling in the ‘U Special’ and having endless cups of chai in the college canteen.

When I was young, my mother was a librarian and as a result I landed up spending many hours in the library.  I suppose libraries are great and inexpensive babysitters!  I remember during summer holidays I would spend my entire time devouring books.  I think that’s where the love affair with books first started.

I studied at Modern School Vasant Vihar and obtained my graduate degree in Economics and my postgraduate degree in Finance from Delhi University. In 2000 my husband and I moved to Hong Kong, a city which is very much home now.  Both our sons were born here in 2008 and 2009.  I currently work for a major Swiss Bank.  I am an avid reader, a long-distance runner and a yoga enthusiast.

What inspired you to write the book on Diwali?

I wanted to share how I celebrated the festival and the stories behind it with my two children.

The motivation for writing the ‘Amma Tell Me’ series was to share with my sons the fascinating stories from Indian mythology that I had grown up with. But I found that there were no resources that were simple to understand and that captured the rich imagery of mythological India that is such an integral part of these stories for me. So I went ahead and started writing the stories in a style that I think kids find fun and non-preachy and collaborated on the illustrations to bring out the imagery that I want my stories to convey.

I set up my own publishing company, called ‘Anjana Publishing’ (the inspiration for the name came from Hanuman as Anjana is the name of his mother and Hanuman is my favorite God) to publish the books.

How did you celebrate Diwali as a child? 

The excitement would build up from weeks before. Going shopping to the bazaars for clothes, gifts, patakas was very exciting. Then came the big day itself. Wearing new clothes, visiting family and friends, being part of a small puja at home were the highlights of the day.

And then all of us friends and cousins would run off to light the firecrackers – the most exciting part. The evening used to end with my grandmother telling us a story about Lakshmi which I have included in my book ‘Amma Tell Me About Diwali!;.

What’s your favorite Diwali sweet? 

Tough choice but will go with rasagullas.  Ah the feeling you get when they melt in your mouth!

What do you like more – Rangoli or Firecrackers? 

Firecrackers! The charkha is my favourite followed by phooljhadis!

What’s your favorite Ramayana character? 

Hanuman – I have a trilogy on him and my publishing company is named after Hanuman’s mother – Anjana.  The company is called ‘Anjana Publishing.’

To win your copy of Amma, Tell Me About Diwali, go here.

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