Sweet treats are challenging a tradition that only celebrates the birth of boys

When Kirpa Grewal was born she says her mother was considered "rebellious" for handing out ladoo to family and friends, because traditionally the sweet treats are reserved to celebrate the birth of baby boys.

"She saw it as being unjust," Grewal said.

"She saw a culture tradition that nobody had challenged and said, 'I am a happy mother to three girls. I have not felt lost without a son and I will celebrate the birth of my baby girls.'"

That was 21 years ago, but Grewal said her mother's actions shaped her character growing up and eventually led her to get involved in the Pink Ladoo Project as Ottawa's campaign manager.

International movement

Delivering pink ladoo to Ottawa families

The international movement was designed to eradicate gender-biased South Asian practises, customs and traditions.

Its goal is to promote a larger change within South Asian families by creating a tradition that also celebrates baby girls through the distribution of pink ladoo, which are round treats made of flour, minced dough and sugar.

Historically, South Asian parent relied on their sons to take care of them once they became elderly. So, when a girl is born it could be seen as a loss and when a boy is born it's a cause for celebration, according to Grewal.

"Sometimes we do things just because that's the way they've been done for all this time and I really want our local community to start questioning why we do things," she said.

On Sunday Grewal put that goal into action, loading up her car with the timbit-sized treats to hand out to South Asian families in Ottawa who have had baby girls and boys in the past year.

The first stop was at the home of Deepi and Aman Minhas, who welcomed their baby girl in June.

"This is a really special gesture ... because it's really announcing to everyone that boys and girls are equal," said Deepi Minhas.

In their household now and growing up equality was important, according to Minhas. But she said there are some communities around the world where that's not the case.

"I understand that in rural areas it's still something that perhaps we need to have an open discussion about," she said. 

Twenty-five South Asian families in Ottawa were set to receive pink ladoo and the campaign has also held events in other Canadian cities, including Toronto.

In Ottawa, those who volunteered to help out say the idea has been well received in the wider community.

"Everyone was so excited about it. From elders to the youngest, they were just so excited about this opportunity," said volunteer Kiran Uppal.


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