The art of giving

It's about sharing your time, possessions, food, money  

There’s suddenly a frenetic sense of activity among people in India and it’s not to go grab something... It’s to generously give -- time, money, food, effort, skill, talent -- for a cause.

Daan Utsav (earlier called the Joy of Giving Week) is India’s ‘festival of giving’. Launched in 2009, the festival is celebrated every year – commencing on Gandhi Jayanti – from October 2 to 8. The beauty of the whole concept is that no one “owns” Daan Utsav. There is, though, a group of nameless faceless group of core volunteers who manage the campaign, define guidelines for participation, and evangelises the effort.

So everyone is invited to participate in their own way -- individuals can donate to orphanages or old age homes near their homes. This is also the time when larger corporate houses put their CSR acts to good use. NGOS (Non Governmental Organisations) and CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) hold activities to raise funds for themselves or others. Five star hotels host food gatherings to raise funds for organisations. There are many who carry on their work without making much noise about their generosity too, gathering together their close-knit band of volunteers.

“Charity or philanthropy is to enable your passion or own self to motivate you to commit an act that helps you share your resources with others who need them the most. It is all to do with the balancing of wealth in society,” says Manoj Kabre, vice president of an MNC and a Rotarian, who started CaN Trust that runs a storytelling cloud for underprivileged children, as his way of giving back to society. It is a great feeling once you are able to get involved in such activity, he stresses. “It cheers you and also enables you improve your productivity and efficiency in your regular work. It gives you solace and satisfaction. It helps you to set an example for the next generation to follow.”

People can donate their time to read to children in slums, teach a skill to the underprivileged -- the possibilities are as many as the imagination. In the past, company CEOs have danced in their tech parks to channelise the attention of their employees towards this cause! there have been multi-city events, pan-India events, and micro events in a locality -- the scale of events too has variations. TV and film celebrities too pitch in with their pleas to people across social media platforms -- from Sachin Tendulkar to Kalki Koechlin, Nandita Das, and Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Bengaluru is home to some big names in philanthropy -- starting with Azim Premji, often ranked “the most generous Indian”, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Mohandas Pai, N.R. Narayan Murthy and Sudha Murthy to name a few, who have always led the way and set examples with their generosity.

Bengaluru’s common people also have a large heart. As per Daan Utsav’s suggestion, Wish Trees are being set up to help fulfill specific wishes, collection drives have begun to donate toys and books to rural children in Karnataka’s anganwadis, several groups of women and homemakers have come together with an idea to feed over two lakh people who live on the streets over this one week and are accepting rations in donation.

Flutist Pravin Godkhindi, who’s performing a concert for India Cares Foundation on October 7, says “Daana is the greatest virtue, so I have always believed that the more you give to the society, the almighty gives back much more. My idea of charity is to share happiness with the world, be it through music, money or materialistic things. I feel happy when I see others happy and content.”

Apartment complexes are spreading word to give their maid a surprise day off, or to feed the families of their support staff for a day. People are volunteering to clean up dirty spots in the city, and even state organisations like the BMTC is collecting donations to help issue bus passes to the needy. All-night events like Under The Sky make giving easy and enjoyable putting up concerts and food stalls, to raise funds for organisations. Cycling and running groups are doing what they love most and do best to raise funds and awareness.

For details and to participate or volunteer look up http://joyofgivingweek. org

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