BHOPAL: Deepawali is a festival of wealth and money. Goddess Laxmi is worshipped, new clothes are worn, houses are decorated with lights and we also gorge on sweets. But, what about those who cannot afford all this? Should they be left alone?
Free Press interacted with few identities of the city who, in a group or at individual level, try to spread the light of happiness in the homes of the underprivileged, especially children, on Deepawali. For them, the festival is all about spreading happiness.
Deepawali is about ‘diyas’ (earthen lamps) which lights up the surrounding area. Similarly, we should try to spread the light of happiness on Deepawali. If people around you are unhappy, how can you be happy? A day before Dhanteras, on behalf of the club, we distributed gift hampers to child street vendors in New Market. The hamper had sweets, biscuits, cakes, chocolates, pen, copybook, sketch pens, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste. I personally present new clothes, sweets and crackers for the families of the maids and servants working at my place. They also dine with us on the Deepawali day. I start preparing for all this a month prior to Deepawali. I may skip buying new clothes for myself but I make sure that I shop clothes for the servants. I also present small gifts and snacks to the guards, gardeners, electricians, plumbers etc. working in my colony. I have been doing so for 22 years.
- Nidhi Parmar, secretary, Rivera Ladies Club
From the past 12 years, I have been celebrating Deepawali with the kids of Ganesh Nagar, a slum cluster near Vrindawan Dhabha on Hoshangabad Road. Around 300 children live there. Every year, on the Dhanteras day, I visit the place and present sets of new clothes to all of them. Then, on the Deepawali day, I go there in the morning to give them sweets. I start its preparations from Navratri with the help of my husband and son. I don’t give crackers since I think bursting of crackers is not only a waste of money but it also pollutes the atmosphere. I do so because it gives me happiness and satisfaction. Besides Deepawali, I also celebrate my birthday and marriage anniversary with them. All who are well-off by god’s grace should share their prosperity with those who are not so lucky. After all, everyone has the right to be happy.
- Shashi Budholiya, district chairperson, Lions Club, Bhopal Majestic
I have been celebrating Deepawali with the underprivileged children for 10 years. We go to different areas every year. Sometimes, my family members and friends also come along. We place orders with sweet shops in advance. After seeing so much of adulteration in sweets, we now prefer to gift chocolates and laddoos. We also interact with the children and if we come to know that any child needs something related to studies, such as book, copybook, pen or pencils, we try to arrange it. I do this because it gives me inner peace and happiness. We are not interested in publicity. We do it for our own sake. We also provide meals to the attendants of the patients at Ladies Hospital. This we do every day.
- Javed Khan, Radio Jockey
Ours is a large organisation with 8-10 core members who belong to different religious faiths. We have been celebrating not only Deepawali but also other festivals such as Eid and Christmas with children of slum localities. We tell the children about each festival – why and how is it celebrated and so on. The idea is to help them understand that India is kaleidoscope of people of different religions, it is a rainbow. We visit three slum clusters – Abbas Nagar, near Airport, Banganga and Aishbagh. We distribute sweets among children and gift crackers like‘phuljharis’ to them.
- Sayed Faiz Ali, member, Insani Biradari, Bhopal