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Light up another’s Diwali. It’s the season of giving

When you have sufficient, give. When you have abundant, give more. And do so with humility, compassion and love. Light up as many people’s Diwali as you can

mumbai Updated: Oct 19, 2017 00:35 IST
Smruti Koppikar
Smruti Koppikar
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Diwali,gift of giving

In this festive season when finery and lights sparkle all around, sweets and dry fruits are exchanged, fire crackers worth thousands of rupees burned in a few minutes, how hard it must be to not partake in any of it because celebration is beyond one’s means. Diwali, or Deepawali, the time to spread light and love is also a time of abundance — for those who can afford it. Others depend on the largesse of donors and benefactors, some make do with hand-me-downs, and a few simply watch other celebrate.

Abundance can be a funny thing. It tends to attract more of itself, apparently. It moves around in sort of closed circles so that those who have it tend to have more of it and share with others who have it. Abundance does not come from hard work; stone crushers, construction labourers, farm workers and so many others work hard too but hardly have enough for their subsistence. Abundance is closely tied to one’s privilege though its owners would hardly agree.

And abundance does not necessarily make its owners generous towards those have less of it or none at all. That’s why perhaps frenzied shoppers alight from their four-wheel drives and haggle with street vendors selling diyas to save a tenner. Or why revellers in plush apartment complexes spend lakhs to celebrate Diwali but see nothing wrong in deducting a hundred or two from their staff’s bonus payments on flimsy grounds.

This is not to say that giving is a rare activity. Many individuals and families give in cash or kind, often both, to those in need around them not only during Diwali but through the year. School fees are paid, tuitions taken care of, medical expenses supported, month’s rations contributed to, and so on. Their benevolence increases at festive times, they give more and they give in meaningful ways. There’s enough anecdotal evidence to say so. At the top end, Mumbai has the maximum number of the country’s philanthropists who donated Rs 10 crore or more in cash or equivalent to cash, according to a study three years ago.

Yet, here’s the rub. Many more of us need to open our hearts and wallets more to spread the good cheer among those who cannot afford the festivities. Sponsor Diwali lunch for street kids. Light up old age homes, spend time there. Distribute mithai boxes among the homeless. Take music and dance to the slums. Have your Diwali sweets and namkeen made by enterprising women who support families through their kitchens. Place your orders for gifts with the home-industry types. Volunteer to teach something you know. Support the struggling (woman) entrepreneur in some way. Look for those who took a bad hit with demonetisation and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax; buy from them. There’s a lot more that can be done.

Giving has become a lot easier than it used to be. Most non-governmental and voluntary organisations have web presence which allows for instant and hassle-free connections, even donations, online. Search for these in your home or work areas, and make a beginning this festive season.

There are organised efforts such as the Daan Utsav which is usually scheduled before Diwali and offers dozens of opportunities, or organisations such as Give India which scrutinise NGOs across the country for their credibility and transparency. Sign up, commit to something there.

When you have sufficient, give. When you have abundant, give more. And do so with humility, compassion and love. Light up as many people’s Diwali as you can.

First Published: Oct 19, 2017 00:35 IST