Gifting ideas this Diwali: Charity, chocolates and more!
Avni Mehrotra speaks to a few folks and suggests gifting ideas for this festive week.
With just two days to go for the biggest Indian festival, preparations are in full swing. The house cleaning is done, lights have been put up, the decorations are ready to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi...
While lights, diyas and crackers are one aspect of Diwali, the most anticipated part of the festival is the various gifts we receive. They start pouring in from near and dear ones a fortnight before -- chocolates, crockery sets, appliances etc.
As we all love receiving and giving gifts, we asked a few retailers to come up with unique gifting ideas and also got television stars to tell us about the presents they're buying or have received this season. It's amazing to see how everyone caught up in festive fervor comes up with different suggestions for things tangible and non-tangible to help connect with people or a larger cause in general.
'I'm gifting myself a new car'
Priyamvada Kant from Delhi is a relatively new face in the television industry. She debuted as Kanchan in Bayttaab Dil Kee Tamanna Hai and later went on to essay the character of Kaumudi in Bairi Piya.
Surprisingly, this is the first time Priyamvada is off work for Diwali. "I work almost 28 days a month, including weekends and strangely, this is the first Diwali that I'm getting off. Still, I am unable to go back home but the festival will involve a lot of shopping and pampering myself as none of my close friends or family are here in Mumbai," she explains.
She adds that as a child her parents used to involve her in the entire gifting process, right from the buying to the wrapping and the presenting, but after shifting to Mumbai that can't happen anymore. So Priyamvada has decided to spoil herself this year by gifting herself a brand new car. To all her friends in Mumbai, she plans to gift small Lakshmi/Ganesh idols and a box of assorted chocolates. "I love chocolates and am a true believer in the Almighty, so I thought of gifting these two things to my friends as well," she says.
Priyamvada looks forward to doing up her house and pampering herself with a lot of new clothes and jewellery too. "As I sadly have no one to share the festival with me, it is going to be complete splurging on myself, with loads of gifts and definitely my brand new car!" exclaims the actress.
Photographs: Jewella C Miranda
'Crackers are harmful to the environment and worse, are the main cause of child labour'
Karan Wahi is known best for his role in Remix as Ranveer Sisodia. A very popular name among younger audiences, he was later seen as Dr Siddhant Modi in the popular TV series Dill Mill Gayye.
This Sikh Khatri boy from Mohali is a true family guy and makes it a point to be with his family every year on Diwali. Now based out of Delhi, he celebrates in a completely traditional way. But instead of gifting and receiving gifts, Karan prefers to take an unconventional route.
"Gifts have now become an obligation for me. I remember back in school, as a child, my parents and I used to wrap presents together and gift it to our entire friend circle. I didn't appreciate it back then, nor am I fond of it now," says Karan. "And I don't understand the point of bursting crackers. We all know that they are harmful to the environment and worse, are the main cause of child labour. So for the last eight years now, I have been going cracker-less and will continue to do so for the rest of my life."
The actor adds that instead of gifting sweets and chocolates to the same friends year after year, one should gift something to these underprivileged children. "Not bursting crackers is just one step towards it," he explains.
But when it comes to food, Karan says it's no holds barred! "I am sure I will enjoy myself completely and hog on a lot of food, which I deprive myself of for one full year. That is alongside doing my bit towards others who deserve to celebrate the festival as much as we do."
'Sweets are the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Diwali gifts'
Tip Top Sweets and Namkeen at Hiranandani Meadows in Thane is one branch of a famous sweet chain in Mumbai -- they're experts at every kinds of festive celebration. The shop has special assortments and preparations to choose from for the whole festive season. Says manager Nilesh Kadam, "Sweets are the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Diwali gifts, especially Kaju Katlis. Hence, like every year, we have seen that all our Diwali assortment boxes have some or the other variety of this mithai."
He adds, "For gifting, we basically have a lot of varieties of sweets to mix and match from. But for the costumers' convenience we have three special assortments of sweets and dry fruits."
Tip Top believes that nothing is better at expressing your gratitude and love on Diwali than a box loaded with premium quality sweets. This shop hence thrives on helping customers spread the love and commemorate the festival.
Photographs: Jewella C Miranda
'Give gifts that please your loved ones and at the same time, bring a smile to someone else's face'
We also visited Archie's Gallery in Thane, one of the best and oldest gifting chains in the country, to ask about their Diwali policy.
"This year we have tied up with Helpage India, an NGO which caters to senior citizens -- all the greeting cards carry a Helpage India logo on them. A part of the value of each card bought will go to the foundation as charity. This is the best way anyone can celebrate Diwali, not just pleasing their loved ones, but also bringing a smile or someone's else face," they tell us.
Further, Archie's has come up with unique gifts using the gods Lakshmi and Ganesh as their theme. "We have wall clocks, table cloths, wall hangings and many such decorative goods embodied in the shape of the Lord. The gifts are specifically made for Diwali and are sold in large quantities then." Sure enough, the store is adorned with windchimes, show pieces, photo frames, lanterns and other such gifts with little likenesses of Lakshmi and Ganesh.
The shop owner signs off saying,"We don't keep crockery and jewellery and other items which are usually gifted on Diwali, so this is the best way in which we can help people celebrate the festival with their loved ones."
'We gave out beautiful wooden boxes containing the entire puja samagri'
Gifting at this time of year is also big among corporates. We spoke to Sanjay Mehrotra, Chief Manager-Sales at ACC Cements, one of the leading Indian cement brands. He says that the company religiously ensures that they gift something unique to their employees and dealers on Diwali every year.
"Last year we had gifted small Lakshmi Ganesh idols along with assorted dry fruits. This year, along with the dry fruits, we went a step further and gave out beautiful wooden boxes containing the entire puja samagri along with photos of Laksmi, Ganesh and Saraswati," he explains. "The idea behind this innovative gift is to ensure that even our younger, newer employees who are away from their families and are celebrating their first Diwali alone get a chance to do something. The box has different compartments containing incense sticks, candles, sandalwood and other items essential for Lakshmi Pujan."
Sanjay further adds that the company doesn't believe in gifting sweets, because on such a large scale it becomes a tad difficult to ensure their freshness. The gifts have started doing the rounds and will be distributed to the entire ACC parivaar, which includes all dealers, retailers, distributors and employees.
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera