I am buying nothing this Diwali!!

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A few years ago, while going through old photographs of my father, I came across this particular picture in black and white. It was of my young father and his siblings standing together. What was particularly interesting about this picture was the clothes they were all wearing… because they were all wearing the same clothes. The same vertical line high collared shirts and plain bell bottomed pants. All the girls were wearing the same salwar-kameez. On inquiry, my father reminisced about his old days, “Those were the days. Can you imagine, we would get new clothes only on Diwali or on a family member’s wedding. Not even birthdays!”

On looking at my shocked face, he said,”We didn’t have luxury in those days to choose our own clothes. Once a year, that is, on Diwali, our father would ask the local cloth merchant to deliver a few rolls of cloth, the tailor would come home and take the measurement of each child and thus on Diwali, all clothes in the exact same colour, pattern and style were ready.”

We were slightly better off than our parents. Apart from Diwali, we would get a new set of clothes on birthdays. That’s it!

And, today, the scene is totally incomparable. I buy clothes for my daughter without consulting the Hindu calendar. Whenever I feel like or whenever there is a sale (both online and offline), I get new stuff for her. She has more clothes and shoes than occasions to wear them.

While doing my Diwali cleaning, I realized how much materialistic we have become. I have clothes lying in my cupboard with their price tags intact. Our life has become all about acquiring and possessing. More, more and more!

Holding on to this thought, when the big Diwali sales  announced on all major shopping sites, I refrained from buying. Not even a single pair of shoes for me or a dress for my daughter. She is going to wear an old dress on Diwali, and that is alright. Millions of other children do, she will do too.

I want to teach my daughter the true value of Diwali – (no, it is not to buy new things, but) to be content with whatever you have, to share them with others and to find joy in the small things of life.

I want her to grow up not fretting over Diwali shopping, but thinking of Diwali as the festival to be enjoyed with family, friends and the less fortunate ones.

PS: My daughter and I have already taken out a horde of things; clothes (some old and new), hair accessories (even unused ones), shoes and toys which we are going to go on the New Year day to a nearby orphanage and the YWCA and offer to the people there.

Daan Utsav doesn’t have to be limited to a week, it can be whenever you want! So, why not on Diwali, the festival of goodness and kindness!





To adopt a child or not?

This is one topic very close to my heart. Also, something on which I have no expertise or experience whatsoever.

After my wedding, my husband and I were toying with the idea of adopting a child. But talking to a friend who had researched on the effects of adoption on the family put us off the idea. And then my daughter was born. With the kind of pregnancy I had gone, I didn’t want to have a second child. Certainly not biological. Also, I believe there are enough kids in the world. We don’t want more.

Recently, I had visited an orphanage. It is a girls’ only orphanage. Though I had gone there to distribute sweets and see how an orphanage works, I got to meet some newborn babies. These innocent tiny tots were abandoned by relatives (because they could not support their upbringing after their parents’ death), single mothers (after death of the husband or separation) or unwed mothers. These beautiful lives are well taken care of in the orphanage by their care givers with the help of donations that they receive from generous and sympathetic individuals and institutions. But their beautiful innocent form stirred in me something far beyond words could explain. I felt like taking a few babies home right then. The nun there told me that there’s such a long waiting list for adopting babies from both India and abroad, but due to red tape and time consuming formalities like background check etc., most babies grow up and then nobody wants to adopt them anymore. Sad!!! 😦

Let me tell you something. I have been thinking of adopting a baby for some time now. Without going through the whole torture of 9-months again, I will get another child and my daughter a sibling. On a larger front, it will secure a stable home, nourishing environment and love of a family for an unfortunate child. I reiterate my earlier point; we have enough children on this planet. If only, one family adopts one child, what a solution we can provide to the global issues of water and food scarcity, global warming, racism, terrorism, malnutrition, etc.

However, let me provide you the other side of the coin. Whenever I have shared my intentions with friends and family, I have never heard a single word of encouragement. In India, adoption is a big deal. Only parents who are not able to bear their own child resort to adoption. But if you already have one child and are fit enough to have another, why adopt a child?  I might not adopt tomorrow or in a few years. But I want to be comfortable in the knowledge that this is a door open to me and many more parents like me.

There are lots of misconceptions around adoption. The most common ones being:

  • Your biological child will feel less loved or feel left out because of the adopted one.
  • Instead of getting the full share of your wealth and property, your original child will need to share it with someone not his own blood. He will feel cheated out of his rights.
  • You don’t know the background of the parents, what if the adopted child shows violent or sociopath behavior.
  • You will always be biased towards your own child.
  • Your friends and family members might not accept the adopted child as one of them and mistreat him/her.
  • On learning the truth, your adopted child would want to learn more about his roots and that might pain you. You might feel used.

I don’t know if there’s an iota of truth behind them.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you faced something similar yourself or in your family?