It’s that time of the year again when the streets are decked with a stream of lights, and the skies lit up in a multitude of sparkling lights while the air is filled with the sounds of a variety of crackers.
Amidst the legion of glittering lights and echoes of revelry, a certain section of the society are left on their own without friends and family, struggling with their inner demons. These are the people who desperately wish for a normal and secure life but are drawn back by the struggles of their mind every day.
To bring a little bit of light at the end of their dark tunnels, Volunteer Services Organization (VSO), Manipal, decided to celebrate the festival of lights for the residents of ASARE, a home for the mentally challenged and Hombelaku, a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre. In their own humble way, the volunteers took up the initiative of illuminating faces with cheerful smiles.
Led by the motto of having a happy but safe Diwali, they arrived with crackers, flowers, diyas, paint brushes and other relevant materials for making rangolis. The girls took up the responsibility of painting rangolis and decorating the grounds with flowers and festive artwork. With a variety of hues and the right assortment of materials, they set to work with much zest and excitement, giving the place a better look. Some of the inmates were brought to see the preparations while some even lent a helping hand to see their mundane residence transform into a magically enlightened place.
Although the humble home was not adorned with glittering lights like the rest of the country, the diyas brought by the volunteers were no less effective in illuminating the place. The sky became dark as the sun set on the western horizon but the grounds lit up with the radiance of the diyas placed on the boundaries, stairs and walls.
Eager to light up the faces of the people who toil in darkness all the time, the volunteers arrived with clothes, sweets and various other gifts for the residents. Mysore paak and laddoos made by the volunteers themselves were distributed among all present. To make the evening more entertaining, the volunteers put up song and dance performances for the inmates. The evening concluded with both the volunteers and the residents joining in to light the crackers and brightening up the place with their cheerful faces.
The happiness and smiles on the faces of all present made the efforts of the VSO a success in its true sense. As the celebrations came to a close, the volunteers bid farewell to the residents, promising to make the next Diwali more memorable and luminous for them.
– Written by Supratim Banerjee