Taking the lead is one family from Aundh, which has asked its guests visiting their home to take darshan of the idol with offerings as books, pencils, pens or any other stationery rather than eatables or flower garlands.
The initiative has been taken by Jignesh and Priya Karia, residents of Sindh Society who started the idea by messaging their friends and relatives a few days ago.
“Every festival we have been trying to reduce the unnecessary fanfare and instead do something meaningful for society as we think we owe to our future generations to set an example. So even on Diwali, rather than having a big puja, we went to an orphanage and celebrated there. This year, it was my husband and son Daiwik who suggested this idea to the family. Every year, we ask guests not to bring along any offerings, but they still end up doing it. So we decided to instead specify to them that we want them to bring stationery, be it a book or a pen,” says Priya.
The response, she says, has been heartwarming.
“It’s the first day, so we don’t know how much we would collect. But whatever we collect at the end of the festival, we have decided to double it with our contribution and give it to students of an orphanage or a municipal school,” she said.
The effect of this small effort has already started showing. One of Priya’s friends is Monica Arora, director of Beacon High School on Moshi’s Spine Road. “I thought why not educate the children of our school to follow this practice. Rather than taking sweets or flowers, why not take stationery as prasad. And that is why we held awareness lectures for students, making them realise the significance of this act. We have asked them to follow suit and also to spread the word to devotees around them,” says Arora.