Society

Diwali takes on a different flavour in Visakhapatnam

A few NGOs in the city make the Festival of Lights as much about sharing as about food, family get-togethers and fun

Sampoorna

Two days to go for Diwali and Sagarika has not a minute to spare as she hurriedly paints shimmer colours on the earthen deepams. As a customer walks in for picking up her order, she flashes a welcoming smile and hands over a neatly-packaged set of diyas.

All around the main hall of NGO Sampoorna’s unit at Zilla Parishad Junction, the women who like Sagarika are differently-abled are busy giving finishing touches to the deepams, before they head home to their villages for the festivities. Ch. Satya, the founder-president of Sampoorna directs operations from her wheelchair. Since 2001, Diwali has never been a dull affair. Thanks to Sampoorna, the women are today self-confident entrepreneurs under the guidance of Satya. From making paper bags to affordable sanitary napkins, they are trained in various skills. “The preparations begin three months ahead. This year, we received a good number of orders for traditional sweets like ariselu, bellam gavvalu and snacks like chegodilu and murukulu,” says Satya. Floating candles and earthern lamps in varying designs and shapes are given a festive makeover by the women. The diyas are embellished with glittery stones and coated with chalk paints before the filling it melted wax. Support for the organisation has come different quarters. Earlier this week, the members of Sampoorna set up their stalls of decorated deepams at Visakha Valley, The Presidential School and at CMR Central Mall.

Members of Sampoorna, an NGO for differently-abled giving finishing touches to the deepams at their centre at Zilla Parishad Junction ahead of Diwali in Visakhapatnam

Members of Sampoorna, an NGO for differently-abled giving finishing touches to the deepams at their centre at Zilla Parishad Junction ahead of Diwali in Visakhapatnam   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Sunflower Special School

More Deepams! For the past 10 years, Diwali has been synonymous with these lamps for the students of Sunflower Special School for differently-abled orphaned children. For two months now, the children have spent several hours every afternoon colouring and packing the lamps. “We buy the deepams from local potters and then the students decorate them with glitter pens,” says Krishnaveni Kurapati, principal of the school.

This year, the school has setup makeshift stalls at Tech Mahindra in Seethammadhara and CMR Central Mall. Ranging from ₹10 to ₹250, the deepams are available in various shapes and sizes. “ We have deepams that look like lamps being carried on elephant back and matki clay diyas. Apart from the traditional oil lamps, we also have tea lights fixed in terracotta deepams. Most of them are painted with motifs of peacocks, plants and flowers,” she adds.

The school has also tied up with few corporate houses in the city who are buying these deepams for their employees. “Every year the revenues generated from these sales are used to sponsor the orphanage that we run along with the school,” she adds.

Deepams and candles made by differently-abled children on sale at CMR Central Mall. Prajwal Vani Welfare Society has been supporting these children by marketing the deepams and candles made by them.

Deepams and candles made by differently-abled children on sale at CMR Central Mall. Prajwal Vani Welfare Society has been supporting these children by marketing the deepams and candles made by them.   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Prajwal Vani Welfare Society

The buzz for Diwali begins three months ahead of the festivities at Prajwal Vani Welfare Society. The organisation that works for the cause of differently-abled people makes candles and terracotta deepams every year. These are then put up for sale during Diwali at public places like CMR Central Mall and Beach Road. “This year over 38 students made hundreds of deepams under our Visakha Khushi Deep initiative. The deepams will be available at VMRDA building, GST office and Dr Lankapalli Bullayya College. People can buy these deepams from our office in Akkayyapalem too,” says Suchitra Rao, founder of the society. The deepams are available in packs ranging from ₹50 to ₹250. The stalls also have jute bags made by the children to promote an eco-friendly Diwali. Hundreds of earthen lamps are first painted in the hues of blue, green and red. These lamps are then decorated by the children by painting traditional Indian motifs of flowers and leaves on them. The Visakha Khushi Deep initiative was started six years ago by the organisation to train differently-abled in deepam making. “This opens up an opportunity for them to understand how markets work and also teaches them to handle money. The revenue generated from the sales of the deepam is distributed among the children’s families. This might not be a big contribution but the children swell with pride seeing people buy their deepams,” Suchitra adds.

Vizag Smiles

Vizag Smiles, a youth-led organisation, that is helping government school children to market the deepams they have decorated. The NGO that was formed in 2013 is supporting around 15 kids of Araadhana Children’s Home located near Gopalpatnam by helping them raise funds for their education. Vizag Smiles has set up a stall near the Airtel showroom at Diamond Park to sell its wares. “We will also be selling them across the Beach Road in a mobile van on October 26,” says Ram Kumar, a volunteer . The NGO was set up with an objective to help the lesser-privilegedby providing them food, shelter, medical care and education.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 3:59:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/diwali-takes-on-a-different-flavour-in-visakhapatnam/article29796931.ece

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