Bhubaneswar: After a gap of two years when Covid had dampened the spirits, ‘Daan Utsav’ or the Joy of Giving Week – India’s biggest giving festival – is back with a bang. The event was inaugurated today.
The biggest volunteering event is being organised in Odisha for the last 10 years on the Day of Service every year by Bakul Foundation, Bhubaneswar. About 300 volunteers went out in 20 groups to spread joy through fun and learning activities among children in about 50 slums and two orphanages and among the elderly persons at an old age home in the Capital City. The threat of an expected low pressure system and incessant heavy rains did not dampen their high spirits, a senior office-bearer said.
“Daan Utsav is a festival like any of our other festivals such as Durga Puja, Ganesh Puja or Eid. Like these other festivals, anyone can celebrate it individually or at home or the community or school or college. Similarly, no organisation owns the festival. The festival has become popular through celebrations by different individuals and organisations. People have celebrated giving in this festival by donating or mobilising donations in the form of materials such as old and new clothes, books, toys etc or money for charity or by spreading joy through simple acts of service,” the Foundation office-bearer stated.
Bakul Foundation, which was started in 2007 to demonstrate the power of volunteerism as well as small individual contributions, has therefore been celebrating Daan Utsav in a big way every year.
The Day of Service (October 2) has been an inspiration into volunteering for thousands of volunteers in the last 10 years. The regular Bakul volunteers coordinate the activities to give a good volunteering experience to volunteers as well. Many of them have continued in their volunteering journey.
Shruti Kanungo, Bakul Volunteer and a Bachelor’s student of Ravenshaw University, who is coordinating the entire massive effort, had been initiated into volunteering was as a school student in the Day of Service in 2018. She said, “This year, I am coordinating the entire effort. I have never led such a big group ever before, and this has been a great learning experience and the fact that I am responsible in some way to 1,000 to 1,200 children we would be giving joy today is an incredible experience.”
The volunteers were mostly from different colleges and schools including some young professionals, many of them joining along with their friends for this experience. They had the option to choose from different zones in Bhubaneswar and different time slots. The activities included ice breaking games, art and craft activities and games around story creation. For instance, children would read a story, then pick up random chits, and add the characters that come up in the chits to the stories they read. This is to stir the creativity of children even as they have fun and to arouse their interest in stories and books.
This year, in Bhubaneswar, the focus has been on slums near each of the Bakul Libraries in Satyanagar, Forest Park and Kalabhoomi in Pokhariput. This is to ensure that the service does not end with joy today but through this event, the volunteers would try to create interest in the children to keep coming to the free Bakul Libraries to get continual joy and learning from wonderfully curated books and the activities around books and creativity there. Hence, children from Durga Mandap Basti, Timber Colony, Rajkumar Basti, Triranga Basti were united together for various creative activities at the Bakul Library.
Children of Gandamunda Tarini Basti, Gandamunda and Bhakta Madhu Nagar were united together as a group at the Bakul Library in Kalabhoomi of Pokhariput. Each of the libraries had activities going on in both the morning and afternoon with children from different slums, the source further said.
In addition, the activities were conducted in Community Centres at many nearby slums including slums in Chandrasekharpur, where Bakul had a library earlier and plans to set up again soon. Activities in the slums were facilitated by the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited and Humara Bachpan Trust.