Originally Published by Live Laugh Mirch
One of the reasons I love this blog is that I get to meet so many fellow bloggers, momtrepreneurs and liked minded women. Such was the case when I crossed paths with Bharat Babies founder, Sailaja Joshi. Sailaja is a consumer anthropologist and gender sociologist turned entrepreneur. With degrees from Northeastern University, Simmons College and Harvard University she’s used her collective academic wits if you will to help address and fulfill a need she saw first hand as mom to two. She lives just outside of Harvard campus with her husband and two little ones, who constantly help support her in her Bharat Babies work.
I chatted with Sailaja one evening after our little ones had gone to bed and it was like catching up with an old friend. I love her enthusiasm for growing a community, her passion to connect our children to culture through books and her willingness to keep creating.
In the Spring of 2013, Sailaja Joshi was on a mission to complete her baby registry in preparation for the arrival of her first child. Inline with her “library” themed baby shower, Sailaja went on the hunt to find books about Indian culture that she could share with her newborn daughter. Of the few books that spoke to her Indian heritage, Sailaja realized that none of these books took into account the developmental needs of her growing child. Recognizing this gap in children’s literature, the idea for Bharat Babies was born. The mission of Bharat Babies is simple: design and produce developmentally appropriate books that tell children’s stories about India’s Heritage. Appropriate for infants through elementary school.
Sailaja offered to send me a few Bharat Babies books including a level one book, Padmini is Powerful, perfect for Little Mirchi.
My first thought was how perfect the book was aesthetically for toddlers, a small colorful board book that can be easily handled and even taken along for car rides, road trips or longer plane journeys. Padmini herself, is simply adorable. Her quirky, nerdy personality is heart warming and brings a realness to her. The book is a fun, easily relatable journey where Hindu gods and their characteristics are introduced. As someone who is trying to raise a culturally and religiously aware child, I love having having a book like this to show and talk through with my little one. It helps relate my daughter to our daily prayers and instill what we can learn from different deities. It’s a great starting point to get children curious and excited about culture and religion. My favorite part of the book is the end where we are reminded we are just as powerful. The little mirror at the end is empowering and Little Mirchi absolutely loved it!
The sweetness and powerful message behind this simple book prompted me to do a small Q&A with Sailaja about Padmini and the inspiration behind this book.
What or Who was the inspiration behind Padmini?
Amy, our author of Padmini is Powerful often says that Padmini is her spirit animal. Much like her, she’s rough, tumbles and has lots of strength. When I met Padmini in our manuscript, I realized that she was the girl I wish I had seen in my books as a little girl. She’s someone who isn’t perfect and that’s what makes her such an amazing character.
What have people’s reactions been towards Padmini?
Padmini has become a fantastic addition to our Bharat Babies collection. People, don’t just love it, but they truly feel the need to hear “You are powerful.” This past April, we were in LA for the LA Times Festival of Books. The event was a tough one for me as it was the first time I had been away from my children for so long, the first time I had been on the West Coast for Bharat Babies, and the first time we were at such a huge event. And really, the event was a financial failure. The first day of the festival it rained so, so hard to see failure happening. And then, this young Latina mom came up to our booth. She was so sweet and she picked up Padmini is Powerful to read. As she flipped through the pages, she got to the very end, to the mirror where it says “Padmini is Powerful and so are you!” It was here, that her eyes started to fill with tears. I got nervous, that something had happened, but she then quietly told me, “No one ever tells me that I’m powerful. No one tells my sons this.” This book is much more than simply a Hindu God primer, it is a text that allows children (and parents) to see themselves as powerful. It places them as the hero of the story and that is something you don’t see everyday.
Will Padmini be featured in any future books?
Yes! In fact Padmini is coming back with her friend Harini in our upcoming book Harini and Padmini Say Namaste. Newsletter subscribers will be able to pre-order the book in the upcoming weeks. As a small startup, we rely on our community members to support our pre-order campaigns so we can get the funds necessary to do our print runs! Readers can sign up here and to find out the latest on BB happenings!
Will Bharat Babies be coming out with more board books similar to PIP, geared towards younger toddlers?
Yes! We’ve heard from our community and the response is YES! YES! We know you want more board books and we want to make them! We have a couple of ideas up our sleeve, but if you want to see more, make sure you support us! As a small business, its always a chicken and egg game for us. To make books, we need lots of money. But we have to sell books first to get said money! It’s a challenge for sure, and we’re hoping to change that in the next couple of months, but until then, make sure you support us!
You can purchase Padmini is Powerful and the entire collection of Bharat Babies books at BharatBabies.com
About Nisha + Love Laugh Mirch
Nisha is the creator of Love Laugh Mirch. Nisha is a cooking crazed Bollywood buff, born in London, living in NYC with roots in India. Awife, mom, believer and writer. She’s passionate about chai, mangos, culture & family recipes passed down through generations. You can visit her blog where she shares recipes, motherhood moments and life’s mirch masala.