Daan Utsav: 16 ways of giving

From October 2 to October 8 every year, the Daan Utsav celebrates the spirit of giving. The festival is open to all, to celebrate the way they want to.

Updated - December 03, 2021 10:48 am IST

Published - October 02, 2017 01:02 am IST

In sheer volume, India doesn’t do well with philanthropy. There are, of course big givers, and some of us give money fairly happily to religious organisations, but if you just look at the means to donate and how much is actually donated, the numbers aren’t impressive.

But we do give, in myriad ways. Maybe it’s helping out a relative who is in need of money, or paying to educate the child of someone who works for you, or volunteering time to organisations that serve the needy. It could even be lending your voice to support and evangelise worthy causes. There is, in short, ample will to give, but perhaps not enough sustained and sustainable channels.

That was the thought behind a simple initiative that started in 2009. It was planned as a day of giving, but it turned out that some people had time free only on weekdays, and others on weekends, and eventually it became the Joy of Giving Week, celebrated from October 2 to 9, at the start of India’s festive season and coinciding with Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. It later changed its name to Daan Utsav, to reach out to more people, but the ‘joy of giving’ is still part of its identity.

In the years since, it has encouraged, motivated, even empowered millions of people to give back to society by breaking the act of philanthropy down to its core: the sheer joy of making someone else happy. A celebration of the fact that you can.

In the same way as we celebrate other festivals — each according to her or his means and inclination — Daan Utsav is also defined by the people who choose to celebrate it. So, it’s not about big, glitzy fundraisers and events (though some may choose to do those), it’s also inclusive of the smallest event. One street can do its sarvajanik Daan Utsav, or it could even be one building or a family. Each one carries as much weight as the others; everyone, no matter what their station in life, can give back in any way they choose.

There are many Daan Utsav stories that demonstrate that giving is simply a question of how big your heart is rather than the size of your pocket. Even those who would be considered economically disadvantaged — autorickshaw drivers, domestic help, building security staff — have found joy in giving.

Take the story of 80 drivers who came together in Odisha in 2013 to organise a trip to Puri for senior citizens. Or the time in 2010 that a self-help group of 8,000 women in Chennai, initially slotted as beneficiaries, decided to be givers instead, donating nearly 15,000 kilos of sugar, rice and oil.

Though it initially started as a movement that was mostly recognised and supported in urban areas, the spirit of Daan Utsav is rapidly spreading to smaller towns and cities and to rural areas, and these stories reflect that change. After all, what better way than a celebration to build numbers and to build momentum?

On this page, we list a few Daan Ustav events that caught our fancy, and which also demonstrate the innovative ways people across society have found to give. (You can find more at daanutsav.org.) You may find some of them worth participating in or supporting. Or they may spark off an idea for you. Happy Daan Utsav!

The Daan Utsav calendar

Oct 1-2

Powai Pet Fest

Animal charities will come together to create awareness about their causes. Event host: Doggie Days, a WhatsApp group of pet parents

in Hiranandani.

Contact: Seema Buckshee: 9920377244

Sept 30-Oct 2

Sale of household goods

Residents of Powai will contribute furniture, kitchen items and so on, and slum dwellers can buy them at really low prices: in the ₹25 to ₹100 range. The NGOs Pratham and Nivara Hakk are organising the event.

Contact: Seema/Chitman: 9920377244

Oct 7

Musical night in South Mumbai slum

A musical night at Sangarsh Nagar slum, Nariman Point with a twist: tickets are a fistful of rice or dal that will be donated to the underprivileged. The event, organised by Pratham and Nivara Hakk, is in association with local amateur singing group Nirvana. Last year, the event collected 3,000 kg of dry rations.

Contact: Seema/Chitman: 9920377244

Oct 02-8

MESCO collection drive

During the week, MESCO will send out three vans across the city (Mahim to Colaba and Dahisar, and Thane and beyond) to pick up old newspapers, toys, clothes, stationery and other materials.

All the citizens have to do is, get permission from their housing societies to run a collection drive, gather everything in one place and have MESCO pick it up.

Contact: Hussain: 9833638126

Sept 30-Oct 9

Visit to children's remand home

RHA volunteers will visit remand homes with food boxes and conduct fun activities.

Contact: Neeta Kambli: 9987036590

Oct 4

Design4Impact workshop

Volunteer-managers from NGOs and private organisations are invited to join a free half-day workshop by iVolunteer on the nuances of design. the idea is to use it as an effective volunteering tool.

Contact: Ashutosh Sharma: 9718643555

Oct 7-8

Bimal Roy film festival

A three-day film festival showcasing Bimal Roy's legacy of films and music will raise funds for cancer patients. The money from ticket sales will go to three partner cancer charities, and the event will take place at St. Paul's Institute of Communication in Bandra.

Contact: Surbhi: 9168907989

Oct 1

Rotary Club fundraiser

Funds raised at a Rotary Club event will go to the orphanage Vivekananda Ashram in Thane.

Contact: Mugdha Mouje: 9967531013

Oct 8

Donor-children meet

Donors (existing and potential) of Rays of Hope, Thane, will get together with children for an evening of celebration.

Contact: Mugdha Mouje: 9967531013

Oct 2-8

One Million Trees Campaign

Grow Trees is aiming to raise contributions online to plant one million trees in projects

across India.

Contact: Zahabia Rajkotwala: 9987221683

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