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Meet the Irving mom on a mission to teach Indian culture in DFW and beyond

Avni Gandhi moved to America in the eighth grade.

IRVING, Texas — Diwali starts on Monday, Oct. 24.

Known as the "festival of lights," it's one of the most-celebrated holidays in India. Many of our neighbors here in DFW celebrate Diwali, but not all of us know too much about it.

Avni Gandhi is on a mission to change that. 

The Irving mom of two was born in Mumbai. Her parents made the decision to move to America when she was in the 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 took chutney sandwiches for lunch."

Her new classmates were cruel; they laughed at her unfamiliar hair and her 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 WFAA.

Eventually, Gandhi stopped praying in public or bringing lunch to school.

"I feel like I gave up a lot of my Indian-ness just to fit in," Gandhi said.

Determined now to empower her children – and others to embrace their culture – Gandhi built a business: Bhaasha Basics.

A few of her products include: calendars to countdown the days until Diwali, templates to teach young ones the Indian sand art of Rangoli, personalized boards and cups so kids can see their name and their language celebrated. 

"'Building that confidence in them, knowing that I don't have to change just because somebody thinks what I'm doing is weird," Gandhi said.

Gandhi told WFAA building that confidence is just as important today as it was when she was a child. She pointed to the viral video of a racist, violent attack on Indian American women outside a Plano restaurant in August.

"It was scary, it was a scary reality," Gandhi said of the video. "And I think one of my goals here is to be able to humanize everybody, right? And to humanize everybody is to kind of eliminate ignorance."

Gandhi believes we can eliminate ignorance by learning, which is why her line is not just for Indian families. She hopes schools might buy her products in bulk and expose all children to the culture.

Gandhi does ship orders all across the country, but she hopes to grow her brand at home in DFW, as well. You can contact Avni Gandhi and Bhaasha Basics here.

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