What started off as a one family exercise soon became a citizen programme of sorts. Every year, during Diwali, Narendra and Sunita Keni send Diwali special delicacies (faral, as is commonly called in Maharashtra) to their son, Major Jay Keni, and his unit members, wherever he is posted. When the word spread about their good deed, more families joined in and started sending off Diwali faral along with the Keni family.
And, last year, Dahisar-based NGO, Hindu Nav Varsha Swagat Samiti (HNVSSD), of which Mr and Mrs Keni are committee and founders’ members, stepped in to help out with the initiative. Last year, the NGO managed to send across 2500 boxes of Diwali faral, not just to where Major Keni was posted, but to various units across the Indian border as well.
And, this year, they managed to air mail over 8,500 boxes to soldiers posted in areas like Leh Ladak, Udhampur in J&K, Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, Tezpur and Jorhat in Assam, Imphal in Manipur, Shillong in Meghalaya, and Guwahati. Explaining the efforts that went into the cause, committee and Founder Member, Ashish Sakhalkar said they enlisted help of Mumbai-based retail brands like Saroj Sweets-Chembur, Chanderkar Sweets-Prabhadevi, Bedekar & Sons, Girgaon to make the Diwali faral.
Apart from this, Sakhalkar said, the initiative also helped them provide employment opportunity to Divya Vidyalaya, Jawahar in Palgahar, an organisation working for the upliftment of differently-able, visually-impaired students and tribals, was given an opportunity to make 1000 kg of faral. Comprising of Diwali delicacies like chivda, chakli, besan ladoo, sev, shankarpali, mesur, etc., the boxes also had special messages inscribed on them, along with greeting cards made by students.
The soldiers guarding our borders who risk their lives, while braving extreme weather conditions, were delighted on receiving the boxes. In fact, Sakhalkar said they received messages from army officials from Leh appreciating the greeting cards sent by the Divyang children of Avhan Palak Sangh, Dadar. “Along with the faral, we also sent 2500 bottles of suncreen lotion to soldiers deployed in Leh,” Sakhalkar further added. The boxes that they sent out cost them Rs 400 per box. The NGO soon received monetary help from citizens who started sponsoring the boxes. “It’s truly a citizens’ programme. Some sponsored one or few boxes, while some a few hundred. That’s how we managed to fund the whole initiative,” Sakhalkar informed.