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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Making a difference by lighting up Diwali for the less fortunate

This year, pledge to make a difference by celebrating the festival of lights in a way that will not only bring smile on someone’s face, but also help save the planet

pune Updated: Oct 20, 2019 16:07 IST
Anjali Shetty
Anjali Shetty
Hindustan Times, Pune
The girls of Niwant Andh Mukt Vasanalay packing chocolates in attractive boxes ahead of Diwali.
The girls of Niwant Andh Mukt Vasanalay packing chocolates in attractive boxes ahead of Diwali.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

With Diwali approaching, we all are gearing up to celebrate the festival of lights with our loved ones. While we have plenty of options to choose from, there are a few among us who may not have everything easy. Yet, they are putting in their best to enjoy festivities and are also working towards helping others have a good time too. Here’s what these Pune-based organisations are doing to help the less fortunate celebrate a memorable Diwali.

A chocolate affair: Niwant Andh Mukt Vasanalay

Laxmi Shinde and Abhaya are neatly placing chocolates in trays and packing them in attractive boxes. They are simultaneously putting a bow on each box and decorating it. In mere five minutes they have managed to stack 10 boxes. These young girls are a part of Niwant Andh Mukt Vasanalay’s (NAMV) chocolate-making team. The team of blind students make chocolates throughout the year. Vishal Bhosale, manager of the team, shares, “We make chocolates throughout the year, but the demand increases during Diwali. There is a set format we follow, where there are steps involved, from melting of the chocolate to packaging.”

The chocolates are sold in packs of five and above and decorated in fancy packaging. Meera Badve, founder, NAMV, says, “There is no greater joy than to see these kids manage everything on their own. A month before the festivities, they go to Mumbai and purchase all the required stuff and begin work. I don’t supervise them anymore. I am so proud that they are self-sufficient and independent.”

The chocolates are available in strawberry, butterscotch, cashew nut, almond and dark flavours. Vishal says, “We get our chocolate slabs from Singapore and during Diwali we make 700 kg chocolates. We get many orders for roasted almond chocolates from companies. We maintain an Excel sheet to distribute the work.”

Helping hands: Prasanna Autism Centre

Diwali- the festival of light is near and children of Prasanna Autism Centre in Pune are excited about making products for the celebrations. Prasanna Autism Centre runs a pre-vocational training initiative with the aim to create opportunities for children with autism to gain independence and learn new skills.

Before Diwali, the children at Prasanna Autism Centre use their pre-vocational training to make paper bags, gift boxes, greeting cards, envelopes, jelly wax floating candles, bookmarks, diyas, lanterns and jewellery boxes.

Sadhana Godbole, executive chairman and managing director, Prasanna Autism Centre says, “It is important for children with autism to learn skills that help them cope better in life and also adds to their confidence level. We involve the children at every. Children sell these products at an exhibition held every year. The idea is to make the kids independent and encourage them to have skills that they can use in future. The skill development helps bring a positive change in their lives.”

“The products are made available at a nominal costs and bring a lot of happiness to the little makers and the customers who use them. The children learn to socialise and have a lot of fun when they make the products,” added Godbole

Able the disabled: Pune Sevasadan Society

A pre-Diwali exhibition of artistic objects like candles, lanterns and edible food items prepared by mentally challenged adults is being held at Erandwane. The exhibition is organised under the Dilasa Karyashala initiative by Pune Sevasadan Society that works for the rehabilitation and holistic development of adults with intellectual disability. The exhibition was inaugurated by Sanjay Kadam, deputy commissioner of Divyang Kalyan Commissionerate Maharashtra State Pune on October 16. Kadam said, “These special children enjoy being busy. We feel satisfied seeing them happy. The Pune Sevasadan Society that functions for the development of an adult with special needs, rehabilitates such individuals through professional training and by creating awareness in the society, which would help them earn respect.”

Disabled students of Pune Sevasadan Society solfd diyas and lanterns at an exhibition.
Disabled students of Pune Sevasadan Society solfd diyas and lanterns at an exhibition. ( HT/PHOTO )

Spreading smiles and love: With Love NGO

With Love NGO in association with Aarti Bafna is organising a special Diwali party where the children of Pune will celebrate the festival of lights with the underprivileged kids. Dimple Somji, member, With Love, says, “Various activities are planned for the evening, but most importantly our kids will learn the true meaning of Diwali when they light up the lives of the less fortunate ones. The event takes place on Dhanteras, October 25. In today’s world, the biggest dhan (money) you can give someone is your time. And if your time leads to spreading smiles then you are truly rich.. this is the underlying message we wish our kids to take back home.”

With Love NGO is also collecting Joy Bags on the special occasion where you can donate a bag of food grains and let no person have a dark Diwali. The event will take place at Taj Blue Diamond.

Tapping local tribes this Diwali: Tribe Chatari

Shrikrishna Paranjpe, founder of Tribe Chatari and Purva Paranjpe, has organised an exhibition that will feature a spectacular display of bamboo, palm leaf made of sky, ceramic candles, lanterns, hanging lamps, table top lamps, corner table lamps, rotary iron lamps and environmental supplements in iron. The idea is to provide a platform for tribal artistes from Melghat, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh. The exhibition is approved by the tribal development department of the central government.

Empowering women: Mitti Ke Rang

This year, Mitti Ke Rang, a social organisation, worked around the concept of #DiyaForACause. They trained 50 women to make candles and helped them sell it too. Amit Jain, founder, Mitti Ke Rang, says, “By buying these diyas made by our hardworking women of Mitti Ke Rang, we aim to provide these women a decent amount of earnings which would brighten up their homes this Diwali. Our target is to sell 1,00,000 diyas. We hope to receive the support and generosity of the people to make this festival a memorable one.”

The all-women team of Mitti Ke Rang posing with diyas made by them.
The all-women team of Mitti Ke Rang posing with diyas made by them. ( HT/PHOTO )

Where to buy these products

What: Chocolates by visually challenged students

Where: Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalaya, Vidyanagar, Dhanori

When: 10am-5pm

What: Eco-friendly diyas

Where: Mitti Ke Rang

Visit: to place your order

What: Paper lanterns and decoration

Where: Handmade Paper Institute, Shivajinagar

When: 11am-8pm

What: Candles, lanterns and food items

Where: Dilasa Karyasahala, Erandwane

When: 10.30am-8.30pm

What: Candles and diyas

Where: Prasanna Autism Centre, Shivajinagar

When: 9am-5pm