padmini is powerful (and so are you)



Recently I had a chance to review a children’s book that evokes so much more than the learning aspect of it. Padmini Is Powerful, sold by Bharat Babies, is an Indian inspired book intended to introduce readers to Hindu gods like Ganesha, Lakshmi and Parvati. It’s a great book for any age even babies since it comes as a board book, but can work for older toddlers also.

In the book, we find that the adorable character Padmini is wise like Ganesha, she is generous like Lakshmi, and energetic like Parvati. And so through Padmini, the reader meets these gods to learn that power has many forms…the most important form of course is the one within.

As a woman of many hats, I find myself striving to be sure girls (and boys) really harness this power they all have inside of them since so much of the outside world, through media and even bullying can condition them to think otherwise.

When I teach yoga to children, I often guide kids to journey within so they can feel where that power resides.

As a dentist, I would get so happy when mothers would say that their daughters wanted to study to be a doctor or dentist like Dr. Puja.

It is so crucial that as women of the world, we be sure to stand proud and tall before our young girls, because our example is who these girls will eventually become.

And now here, as a blogger and writer, I love supporting companies that shine this message onward and upward.

I decided to interview the founder of Bharat Babies, Sailaja Joshi, on the vision behind this awesome book.

1. What inspired you to create Bharat Babies?

Well the story is really starts as I began my journey as a mother. I was putting some books on my amazon wish list for my library themed baby shower. I had the classics on there, “Goodnight Moon” and such but I also wanted books that reflected my history and heritage. When I started to look for books about India, Hinduism, and that featured Asian-Indian Americans I realized very little was out there. What was out there was problematic to me as a sociologist, they would feature animals instead of humans as characters, the stories would be culturally insensitive or inaccurate, and many were developmentally inappropriate. I knew the importance of reading to children starting at birth, and i knew both first hand and through my studies as a sociologist the importance of the hybrid immigrant identity. And so, I decided to start a company. 

2. As a female entrepreneur, did you face challenges in moving forward with your vision?

 The biggest challenge I face is financing. Producing books is expensive, and its a lot of money up front. As a female entrepreneur, I realized I had to leverage my networks and resources in order to get to the next level. I was incredibly lucky that my alma matter Northeastern has a venture incubator called IDEA. Through IDEA I was able to connect with business leaders, mentors and most importantly, receive grants and financing to help me take my business to the next level.

Even today, when I approach investor (most of whom are male) and they often think of my company as simply a mom making some books. But we are so much more than that. Our vision is to become an educational media and print platform that not only provides diverse books but also helps other communities actualize their own stories.

3. What is the strongest message behind Padmini Is Powerful? How have educators responded to this message?

Padmini is Powerful is such an empowering book. When our author Amy sent me the script, which she had scribbled on a napkin, I nearly started crying. The book does a wonderful job of introducing all children to Hindu gods while also helping children to realize their true potential. On a spiritual level, it really speaks to the pure power of one’s self. On a much broader level, I realize that this book really helps marginalized communities hear and see that they are powerful. 
This past April we were in LA at the LA Times Festival of Books. It was a big deal for me, it was the first time I was traveling for a Bharat Babies event, the first time I’d be away from my kids for so long and the first time we’d be at a festival of this magnitude. And…it’ rained. The very first day it POURED, in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. And I was just besides myself and then I met this young Latina mother. She had two older children, around the age of 8 or 9 and she was thrilled to see our booth. My uncle gave her a copy of Padmini is Powerful to read and she flipped through each page, laughing, smiling, and then she got to the last one. It says, “Padmini is Powerful and so are you” with a little mirror so the reader can see themselves. And well, her eyes started to well up with tears, and I was like, “What’s wrong!?” 
And she said, “No one tells my children they are powerful. No one has ever told me that I’m powerful. They tell me I’m a welfare mamma. They say my boys will be thugs. No one tells them that they can be powerful.” 

And THAT is the type of reaction we’re getting to this book. This book is so much more than just a Hindu god primer. It is about uplifting and saying that YOU ARE POWERFUL. YOU ARE IMPORTANT. That is what our books do. 

4. As a power woman yourself, what is one message you wish to convey to girls everywhere?

Oh my gosh! I don’t think of myself as a powerful woman at all, but I guess I am. If I had one message to send to girls (and boys, and all those in between!) it would be to be kind. Really, this world, this space, our kids, could use more kindness. Be kind, be genuinely kind to each other. 



If you haven’t already read this book to your kids, you can get it here and be sure to let us know what you thought of it in the comments below!

And for your chance to win a FREE copy, enter our giveaway here! This giveaway ends on Thursday June 9th 2016 so enter ASAP!

 Plus, Bharat Babies is offering our Chai Mommas community a $5 coupon on every order from their site. Simply enter “chaimommas” as the discount code upon checkout.

So as Sailaja signs off on her emails…Here’s to the love of reading 🙂


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