Avni Gandhi moved to America in eighth grade.
IRVING, Texas – Diwali begins Monday, October 24.
Known as the “Festival of Lights”, it is one of the most celebrated festivals in India. Many of our neighbors here at DFW celebrate Diwali, but not all of us know too much about it.
Avni Gandhi is on a mission to change that.
The Irving mum of two was born in Mumbai. Her parents made the decision to move to America when she was in 8th grade. She was the only Indian student in her class.
“When I walked into my first day of school, I had oil in my hair,” Gandhi told WFAA. “I had chutney sandwiches for lunch.”
His new classmates were cruel; they laughed at his unfamiliar hair and his food.
“The first month of school, I actually spent the first two weeks eating in the bathroom…the next two weeks eating with the librarian,” she told the WFAA.
Eventually Gandhi stopped praying in public or bringing lunch to school.
“I feel like I gave up a lot of my Indian identity just to fit in,” Gandhi said.
Determined now to empower her children – and others to embrace their culture – Gandhi started a business: Bhaasha Basics.
A few of its products include: calendars to count down the days to Diwali, templates to teach the youngest Indian sand art of Rangoli, personalized boards and mugs so children can see their name and their language celebrated.
“‘Building that confidence in them, knowing that I don’t have to change just because someone thinks what I’m doing is weird,'” Gandhi said.
Gandhi told the WFAA that confidence is just as important today as it was when she was a child. She pointed to the viral video of a racist and violent attack on Native American women outside a Plano restaurant in August.
“It was scary, it was scary reality,” Gandhi said of the video. “And I think one of my goals here is to be able to humanize everybody, right? And humanizing everybody is sort of eliminating ignorance.”
Gandhi believes we can eliminate ignorance by learning, which is why his line is not just for Indian families. She hopes schools could buy her products in bulk and expose all children to the culture.
Gandhi ships orders nationwide, but she also hopes to grow her brand at home at DFW. You can contact Avni Gandhi and Bhaasha Basics here.