The long-lasting ‘diya’
A group of women based in Patankala, in Alwar district of Rajasthan, earn some extra pocket money every Diwali, thanks to their business collaboration with sisters Ayesha Grewal and Misha Grewal Soni of The Altitude Store—an organic products store at Mehar Chand Market in New Delhi’s Lodhi Colony. The sisters have partnered with the community of potters in Patankala to make diyas that are sold in New Delhi. All proceeds go to the women. “We’re into the third year of our initiative. While last year we sold 6,000 diyas, this year we aim to touch 10,000 diyas,” says Grewal. They burn easily for 6-8 hours, longer than most diyas last. “They are deeper and wider than the usual size that you find in the market, and the mitti (soil) that they’re made with is very pure. I believe that the depth and diameter ratio is what makes them last so long,” explains Soni.
Each diya costs Rs 30. Available at The Altitude Store, Mehar Chand Market, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi. Call 49050404.
‘Diyas’ by the visually impaired
The year-long hardwork of four members at The Blind Relief Association, New Delhi, is behind all the diyas and candles displayed at the Diwali mela held annually on the premises of the Blind Relief Association. An organization founded in 1944, the association’s Diwali mela is in its 28th year. “In the seven-eight days of the Diwali mela, we sell candles, diyas and other Diwali gifts worth Rs 50 lakh. All the proceeds are used for the benefit of the school, college and home for the 260 students and trainees at The Blind Relief Association,” says P.C. Mehta, the deputy executive secretary. This year, the Diwali mela is on till 24 October at The Blind Relief Association at Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, near Oberoi Hotel, New Delhi.
Diyas by The Blind Relief Association, New Delhi. Divya Babu/Mint
Diyas are sold at Rs 60 a dozen and can go up to Rs 26 a piece. Candles range from Rs 35-170 a dozen. To pre-order , email email@example.com, or call 65650969/70.
‘Diyas’ inspired by child art
Traditional earthenware diyas in matki or handi shapes in white, gold or colourful rangoli designs—CRY (Child Rights and You) World’s diyas this Diwali can spread the light far. “We have a set of artists who create these diyas with the help of several grass roots NGOs across the country,” says Purvi Malhotra, manager, media advocacy, CRY. The money raised from the sale of these diyas and other gifts goes to 5,242 villages and slums across India. “Diwali is about spreading joy, and this is a great way to contribute,” says Malhotra.
Candle diyas by CRY World. Courtesy CRY World
Sets of two or four diyas range from Rs 25-495. For details, visit www.cryworld.cry.org
‘Diyas’ by the mentally challenged
The traditional diyas in clay, hand-painted and decorated by the participants at the Manav Foundation, Mumbai, a non-profit organization for the mentally ill, are an effort the group there looks forward to every year. The foundation caters to those suffering from mental illnesses of any sort, and participants in the activities here arrive via referrals by hospitals and psychiatrists. Once here, the participants enrol in a cell called Swayam, where they learn marketing, sales pitches, etc., in an office environment—skills that make them feel they could be part of a real office and builds the confidence to join the mainstream where possible. “They sometimes get orders of up to 1,000 diyas and it might be daunting for some of us, but they get so excited and throw themselves into it,” says Devaunshi Sampat Mehta, the social worker with the foundation. The proceeds go to the organization.
The participants also make chocolates and greeting cards for the festive season. The Manav Foundation, Atlas Mill Compound, Mumbai; prices start at Rs 35 for a pair of diyas and may vary, depending on the type. For details, visit www.manavfoundation.org.in
Organic health hampers by rehabilitated juveniles and orphans
Syamantak in Dhamapur, in Maharashtra’s coastal Sindhudurg district, is a multi-skill residential education system without teachers or classrooms. Santosh Desai, the organization supervisor, says the students here create solar dehydrators and grow organic vegetables to generate revenue. For the first time, they are doing Diwali hampers. Each hamper will contain 200g of halwa (made with organic bananas, desi ghee from cow’s milk, dates and sugar), 100g of Malabar Nut Malt (a herbal decoction of Malabar nut leaves, piper longum powder, black pepper, dried ginger and sugar), 50g of Utna (a scrub made from Ayurvedic ingredients used for a traditional Diwali bath in Maharashtra), 200g Hurali mix (a nutritious soup). Desai requests that since it is the first batch and an educational effort, people should have patience with the students while placing orders. The proceeds go to help rehabilitate the students.
Each hamper costs Rs 400 with a handwoven bamboo box (Rs 300 without the box). The cost includes transport charges to Mumbai and Pune. Email Santosh Desai at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 9404164945.
Hand-painted ‘diyas’ by young adults with intellectual disabilities
The Bangalore-based Yashaswini Swavalambana Trust (YST) is an initiative by Foundation for Action, Motivation and Empowerment (FAME) India that works towards the rehabilitation and empowerment of children and young adults with neuro-muscular and intellectual development disabilities. YST trains those above 18 in vocational skills so as to enable them for life. Training in painting and decorating terracotta items is a major activity. On Diwali, earthen objects such as diyas, plates, coasters and small idols are painted and decorated. Every Diwali, the trust gears up for corporate orders and even sells diyas at their Bangalore workshop. The proceeds go to YST and, in turn, the monthly wages of the people making them.
Diwali goodies at the Yashaswini Swavalambana Trust, Bangalore. Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
A pack of six of basic wax-filled earthen diyas cost Rs 40. To place orders, call Gayathri Venkatesh, who supervises the workshops, at 26431515.
Gayatri Jayaraman and Pavitra Jayaraman contributed to this story.