While you are seeking the blessings of Lord Ganesha this year, make sure you do not mechanically deposit cash into the daan peti or donation box. At several Ganapati pandals this year, devotees have the option of donating stationery in a gyan peti or knowledge box, to help underprivileged children.
Team Parivartan, a non-governmental organisation, has come up with the idea of putting up such knowledge boxes, where devotees can donate pencils, erasers, books and other stationery items, which will be donated to tribal children and schools in districts around Mumbai.
The idea originated from a photograph circulating on social media that asked for education boxes at temples all over Maharashtra. Team Parivartan decided to initiate this as a trial in Ganapati pandals. They approached several mandals all over Mumbai to set up the gyan peti , but were mostly met with the question: ‘What will we get in return?’
It took some time, but eventually, some of the mandals and individual devotees recognised the importance of the work and agreed to be partners. Datta Raul Maidan Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Mandal in Dadar, Siddhivinayak Sarvajanik Ganeshoshtav Mandal and Padmbhushan Vasantdada Patil Pratishthan Engineering College in Sion, are among the mandals that accepted their proposal, apart from some local volunteer groups in Thane.
Namdev Yedge, a member of Team Parivartan, said that when individual devotees donate money for the cause, the NGO buys the stationery and sends the bills to them. The team has 50 youths coordinating the initiative all over Mumbai, and has put up banners and posters at the mandals.
So far, the response has been good at Sion, but poor in Dadar. “Initiatives like these take time to gain a positive response, but we hope for the best,” said Tushar Warang, a team member. Team Parivartan also plans to put up education boxes at temples. “It would be much more helpful if people donated stationery at temples rather than money and flowers,” Mr. Warang said.