Behind the Scenes: Priya Dreams of Marigolds & Masala

Check out the images and info below for a behind the scenes look at the inspiration and making of my children's book Priya Dreams of Marigolds and Masala. This book earned a starred Kirkus Review, was on the Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2019 list, and was awarded the 2020 South Asia Book Award for Children's Literature.

“A beautifully rendered, touching celebration of sharing traditions across generations and cultures.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Experiences as Inspiration

I’m an Indian American woman. I was born and raised in the United States but my family is from Gujarat, India. When I went to India as an adult, I was struck by how it was both foreign and familiar to me. Many things that were a part of my childhood home growing up felt so different from others in the United States but turned out to be so common in India.

I kept seeing marigold garlands strung up and it reminded me of my Ba. When she lived with us in the United States, she would pick marigolds from our garden every morning to put in our mandir. I recognized the abundance of marigolds in India as a beautiful piece of my family’s identity that we carried in our everyday lives. There were so many things like this—mandirs, images of familiar gods and goddesses, the rustling of saris, the smell of cha. All of these things that made me feel different in the United States were unnecessary to explain in India. They were a part of everyday life.

I had a wonderful life as a child but I put up walls between all of my identities because I was afraid of being different. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized how important it is to allow all parts of my identity to mix, to share all parts of me with people. I hope this book inspires kids to take pride in all their identities—all the unique threads that come together to make them who they are. I hope it inspires them to share their own unique cultures and to be curious about other cultures.

You can purchase a signed copy of Priya Dreams of Marigolds and Masala here in my shop to share with the kids in your life!