Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): For most of us, Diwali means decorating houses, wearing new clothes, performing Laxmi puja, bursting firecrackers and enjoying delicacies. However, for some people in the city, Diwali is a day to make others happy. All of them have different ways of sharing happiness with less privileged.
Free Press spoke to three Good Samaritans who celebrate Diwali with senior citizens living in old age homes and children of slum areas.
Leaves home at 5.30 am
For past 15 years, I leave home at 5.30 am on Diwali. I first visit four old age homes, spend an hour at each. I choose old age homes, which offer less facilities for inmates. I touch feet of all residents and then talk to them. I hear their stories and also make them laugh. I gift sweets and napkin (gamchha) to them. After this, I visit slums. There, I gather children and tell them why Diwali is celebrated. I also give them a packet containing tikli pistol, a roll of tiklis, a diya, a candle, a matchbox and a piece of sweets. I reach home at 5 pm. Next morning, I leave home between 4 am to 5 am with a broom to clean used crackers lying in public places.
-Ashok Hindustani, ex-serviceman
They’re my family’s part
After my grandfather’s death, my parents decided to visit Apna Ghar, an old age home, on every Diwali in his memory. As a child, I used to accompany them. Now, I am 26 and I can’t stop myself from visiting the place every Diwali. I am friends with many old people there. I spend several hours with them. There is one dadaji who is fun-loving and sings well. We play antakshari and talk for hours. Sometimes, they become emotional. I enjoy spending time with them, so much so that sometimes I don’t even know how many hours have passed. They are part of my family. I take sweets for them.
-Harshit Goyal, businessman
Makes festival meaningful
My husband, Vipin, who works for the BSNL, and I, have been visiting an old age home in the city on Diwali for past 10 years. Besides sweets, we also take things that are useful for residents like towels, bedsheets, blankets, packets of ghee etc. Diwali is a busy day but we do manage to find time in early afternoon. It is not that our little gifts change their life. But we feel very satisfied and happy. That trip makes festival meaningful for us.
-Sonal Maheshwari, director, Kids Campus Foundation School