For Anita Bafna’s family, this year’s Diwali festivities began in a tribal village in Thane district on Dhanteras on Sunday. The Andheri residents were part of a social initiative by a not-for-profit organisation that celebrated the festival with the residents of Awarpada, a tribal village located 145 kms from Mumbai.
This year, many Mumbaiites have chosen to dedicate the festive season to social causes and spread light where it is needed the most.
“I usually stay at home and celebrate Dhanteras, but this year, my family decided to spend the day with tribal families, and we realised how their Diwali isn’t as bright as ours,” said Bafna, a lawyer. “They do not have electricity or new clothes, and yet keep themselves entertained with music and dance. It was also a good learning experience for my 10-year-old daughter, who has now decided to donate her old clothes to those children,” she said.
“It was encouraging to see 25 families spend the first day of Diwali with the tribal families and gift them clothes and sweets,” said Keshav Upadhye, who organised the trip to the tribal village through his organisation.
Rishikesh Parrikar, a business consultant, who usually spends the festival with friends and family, has volunteered with CHIP Mumbai, a not-for-profit that is organising a 15-day camp, starting on Wednesday at Jogeshwari for children from the city’s civic schools. “I helped out with registrations on Monday as more than 200 children turned up, and from Wednesday, when the activities begin, I will be involved in the work,” said Parrikar, 28, who stays in Goregaon.
Some citizens are also foregoing spending Diwali at home to help stray animals. “Every year, I rescue several stray dogs that are frightened by firecrackers and venture out of their territory, often getting into fights with other strays and getting injured,” said animal lover Hitendra Mota, a Jogeshwari resident, adding that he rescued a kite on Tuesday.