Sunday, October 22, 2006

Lights, sweets, action!

Diwali is all about lights, sweets and crackers. And when you get to spend it with kids who are as bright, sweet and are bursting with energy as the ones at Anand Kendra, trust me, it’s the best Diwali ever! Firstly, our distribution on the 20th of October (our 15th one) was very impromptu, just decided in the afternoon and there we were in the evening. So we couldn’t call many people.

Anyway, so we reached Anand Kendra (right next to Atria Mall, Worli) and there they were, about 50 kids sitting on the benches waiting for us, some shy, some forward, but basically all friendly. First things first, we introduced ourselves and got a loud Happy Diwali wishes. We got to know all the kids’ names, age and what class they were in. Then they introduced us to their special friend, Basanti, a cute li’l kitten who found a cozy place in some boy’s arms or the other. Oh, by the way, Basanti is quite a rockstar, and according to the kids she teaches them ganit (Maths). Can you beat kids’ imagination? That’s rhetoric. We knew better than arguing too, anything that makes them happy.

All the kids there go to school and believe you me, they are bright! Since the occasion was Diwali, the kids knew what one does during Diwali – you burst cracker, eat sweets and light diyas (as one of them said, 'Diwali mein phatake aate hain, but they didn’t know why one does that. So, we decided to let them know the real reason. Thanks a lot, Shishir, you did a great job! Our good friend Shishir took the reigns in his hands and though he started narrating the story, he made it much more interactive by asking kids questions, after which, three of the kids narrated the entire Ramayan! They began with ‘Ramji Vishnu bhagwan ke aathve avatar thhe.’ Now, I didn’t know that! Told you the kids are bright. The story found mention of every important detail and character, be is Kaikeyi, Manthra, Surpanakha, Jatayu or Kumbhkaran, who the kids found most fascinating because he could eat and sleep nonstop for six months!

Ok, here is the best part of the narration. When a kid reached the Ram and Ravan yudh in the end part, he said, ‘Pehle Ram bhagvan Ravan ko boley, sorry bol de toh tujhe nahin marunga…. Ram bhagvan ne Gandhigiri ki. Lekin Ravan ne nahi suna to Ram bhagvan ne usey maar diya.’

After the narration, the volunteers (thanks a ton Kritika, Pooja, Neerav and Kashyap) distributed sweets and gifted the kids beautiful diyas to make their Diwali sweeter and brighter. The fun was far from over for every one of us. The kids recited poems, sang songs, danced and even presented a funny skit for us and themselves! What’s more, they didn’t even need a music system to dance. Every kid sang in unison any song that the dancer asked for, who often pulled his friends to accompany him. We had prospective creative professionals among us, other than the regular doctors and pilots. There was a potential writer, a playwright, a singer, a dancer, etc.

After getting their toys, the kids got busy with playing and even exchanged them with each other without making a fuss about it. They couldn’t care about the fact that they weren’t outside bursting crackers, they seemed happy just the same. It’s really not every year that you get to celebrate Diwali in such a special way. It was really one HAPPY Diwali!

Regards
Dhaval Roy
Toybank Team - Giving back the Right to a Childhood

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