Nothing speaks of happiness and compassion better than doing things for others. In fact, I’d be surprised to find a better way of collecting smiles. Of course you know that World Smile Day is celebrated on the first Friday of October every year, thanks to the creator of the smiley, Harvey Ball. What a lovely symbol of kindness and affection, eh!
As we celebrate the ten-day Dussera festival, also known as Navratri, the city is full of joyous events marked by cultural programs, delicious food, new clothes and loads of shopping. And during this festival, we are also celebrating Daan Utsav, or the Joy of Giving Week from October 2-8.
I did not write this post in time for World Smile Day, as I was outside, busy collecting smiles.
There used to be a time when our family planned weeks ahead, made budgets for the shopping and outings to enjoy during the 10-day festival. We arranged dolls, made a special food offering every day of the festival and invited people over. Return gifts for visiting were the done thing. We dressed in our best finery, visited temples for special poojas and prayers.
Over the years though, thanks to my Mother’s generous heart, we tweaked the way we celebrated festivals. We started giving to welfare homes around our area. Old tradition gave way to the new tradition of giving and making lives better.
Today, I am happy to say that over the past few years, festivals are purely a “giving” affair at our place. Be it birthdays, anniversaries, special celebrations or festivals, we donate. We try and make a different by sharing what we are blessed with.
This year, as I am on a major decluttering drive, I am able to make it even better by adding plenty of “kind” to the cash giving.
I am pleased to look back at the “then” and “now”
Then, we bought new clothes.
Now, we give away what we have.
Then, we prepared sweets and savories for distributing among friends and families.
Now, we sponsor meals at welfare homes.
Then, we planned a major special purchase from our wishlist at home.
Now, we sponsor a child’s education or medical costs.
Then, we visited temples.
Now, we spend time with the elderly and children in welfare homes.
Then, we planned holidays during the 10-day vacation.
Now, we save the money and donate it to a cause.
Then, we made a budget for our expenses.
Now, we make a budget for “giving”
Then, we referred to the color of the day for each day of Dussera so we could wear it.
Now, we gather things of that color to give away or gift.
The transition is easy.
This year, I am giving away clothes, toys, linen, kitchen containers, books and a load of other things.
And that’s how we’re celebrating festivals.
I am proud that my son reminds me to sponsor a meal at our local welfare home on his birthday, which is next month, and also checks to confirm that we did the same for our birthdays.
Life is definitely better when we share what we have.
Life is great when we give and collect smiles.
And of course, I have smiles to go before I sleep!
How are you celebrating festivals?
#DaanUtsav (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. From auto rickshaw drivers to CEOs, school children to celebrities, homemakers to opinion leaders and media personnel, millions of people from all walks of life come together during this week to give their time, money, resources, or skills back to society.
They do this by creating or participating in events of their choice. A giving event could be as simple as a family taking out their maid’s children for an ice-cream party, or as large as a ‘Gift Compassion’. The latter is an event that has over 10,000 schoolchildren every year across India making and exchanging gifts with their peers from different socio-economic backgrounds.