COMMUNITY There are so many compassionate people around ever willing to improve the lot of others. These little known individuals set forth ripples of hope during festival time, says SOMA BASU
T omorrow is Diwali, a time to celebrate and glitter in the glow of lights, festivities, love and hope. Today's column is not dedicated to any individual but to a band of good-hearted noble souls young or old, who, I know for sure, are making a difference across the city.
They are happiest making a contribution, howsoever tiny, and walking in the light of creative altruism. They are ever willing to touch the hands that are within reach and do the most for them.
Today, I salute many school children who have silently ushered in a pollution-free diwali campaign into their homes. It is amazing to see the love in their hearts and maturity of their young minds.
Many prominent schools have commendably taken the lead in driving home the message that lighting a lamp will spread light whereas burning crackers will create only ash. They have sensitized their students to ills of child labour and how it can be stopped by not burning crackers. That this much awaited annual festival of goodwill can be celebrated in so many other ways than only bursting crackers that pose health hazards like respiratory ailments, rising air and noise pollution, loss of hearing, disturbing the peace of infants and elderly have gone down well as a lesson in learning.
It is always beneficial to help the children learn. And, when our young school students draw up a wish list appealing for safer and happier diwali, by simply lighting candles or diyas and exchanging sweets, who can ignore it?
Today, I pay my tribute to scores of individuals with a golden heart, many of whom have been featured in these columns during the past 24 months. I know their soaring spirit that drives them to be different and sets them apart. On such joyous and auspicious occasions, I have seen them all unite for a cause -- even while working in isolated pockets – to get those endearing smiles back for the numerous unloved and uncared, neglected and abandoned, orphaned and widowed, diseased and rejected, underprivileged lives.
A random check revealed celebrations across orphanages, homes for the poor, needy, destitutes and senior citizens on Diwali. And making it happen are our local heroes and heroines. They have devised simple ways of spreading warmth and kindness to show that they care for those forgotten by society.
If children of convicts or HIV-affected parents or orphaned kids are getting treated to special feasts, elsewhere they are getting clothes and free medical check-ups. In some old age homes and orphanages, college students are taking time off to pack in entertainment programmes. In few centres for the autistic and mentally challenged individuals, the beautiful inmates are being cajoled to take part in variety shows, fancy dress to dancing. Singing and painting contests and games for the physically challenged is an attraction in some other centres. Even picnics have been organized for many street urchins, rag pickers and the socially rejected. In some places, homeless children and adults are getting small gifts.
Yes, all around I sense a glimmer of hope, buzz of giggles and banter that fights away the doom and depression otherwise cocooning these lives. It means there are so many loving kind-hearted unseen faces and unknown people around us, who successfully wrap us in the ambience of community. Their unconditional service finds no match. All they seek is emotions-packed hug and handshake which convey thousand more words.
The world around us may be so very threatening. But it is these people who bring reaffirmation of hope, renewed commitment to goodwill and religiously sanctioned celebration of the simple joys of life.
Today, I bow my head in respect for all those who choose to make this diwali enjoyable by only spreading light and love. Giving is the highest expression of power. And, real power lies in the ability to do good for others.
(Making a difference is a fortnightly column about ordinary people and events that leave an extraordinary impact on us. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to tell about someone you know who is making a difference)
“How far that little candle throws its beams; So shines a good deed in a weary world” – From ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory'