“This is our way to give back to the community and address the issue of hunger.”  Vaishali Nigam Sinha.

There is a joy in giving since an act of kindness leaves an impact on both the donor and the receiver. This is the very basis of the week-long festival that’s Daan Utsav (October 2 to 8). And it’s all the more relevant to celebrate this since the pandemic has left many among us helpless. So cease this chance to impact lives, directly or indirectly.

The process of this annual event has taken a virtual route this year, to ensure people can participate from the comfort of their homes. Anjana Sharma, a Gurugram-based school teacher recalls, “I’ve donated to the NGO Goonj earlier, and this time as will I will be donating clothes and shoes for the underprivileged. It’s not just me but my entire group of friends who will be going there together to donate. I feel this festival of giving should be celebrated twice a year since it promotes kindness, and that’s what we really need in today’s world.”

JV Lakshmi, an NGO volunteer from Ghaziabad, says, “Last year, on the same day we had organised a similar camp. I got reminded of this by someone who came to donate; this shows the spirit of people.” NGOs such as Goonj have started mobile camps where vehicles are collecting donations while following all Covid-19 protocols whereas some private companies are encouraging their employees to play online games like Bingo, Tambola, and even a poker tournament, on cloud meeting mobile apps, to collect money for charity. And employees of a Gurugram-based company are practising rice bucket challenge to celebrate the week.

Individuals, NGOs and private organisations come forward to raise donations during the week-long Daan Utsav.

Vaishali Nigam Sinha, from this company, says, “We started this challenge in 2014 and managed to collect almost 1,500 kg rice in year one. Since then, the efforts of the employees have seen the collections rise to almost 68,000 kg. And this year, even as we operate virtually, we are expecting to collect 25,000 kg rice for migrant workers. The best part is that now employees look forward to this challenge every year and we continue to expand the scope of beneficiaries. This challenge during Daan Utsav is our way of giving back to the community and help address the problem of hunger, which is one of the most pressing issues that our country faces.”

The funds being raised will be donated for causes such as vocational training of the unemployed individuals, meals for patients in the hospitals and their relatives, sanitary pads for underprivileged women, and even athletics for underprivileged communities. A Delhi-based NGO, Slam Out Loud is bringing art and artistic opportunities closer to the underprivileged through events that will allow children and adults to experience the magic of arts, especially to take care of their well-being during the pandemic.

Childline India Foundation has an emergency helpline number set-up by the government for children in distress, and is celebrating the festival through activities such as a digital poster competition; where the participants will highlight the importance of Daan Utsav. Anjaiah Pandiri from the foundation says, “We are celebrating the festival across all the networks and spreading Gandhiji’s message of giving and non- violence against children with local events and campaigns in their respective local communities. The events help create public awareness against violence and crime against children.”

Another NGO, Pratham is celebrating the festival with a challenge #JoyOfReading. As part of this, anyone can record pictures/video(s) while reading aloud alongside balancing their body weight on a leg or while practising a plank. You could also post a video between on any day this week using #AaoJoRDein. Also tag at least three of your friends, nominating them to join the initiative. So, have fun as you join in the joy of giving!

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