Diwali spreads cheer among city orphanges

The mood of festivity has begun and everyone is joining the festive bandwagon. City-based orphanages too are gearing up for the festival of lights Diwali.

At Sparsh Balgram, a permanent abode for 16 children affected by HIV/AIDS, the residents have just finished making Diwali greeting cards and other gift items. "We make the children feel at home. We live here as a family and we will be celebrating Diwali in a traditional way like any other family," said Mahesh Yadav, who runs the organisation sharing his 1BHK apartment with these children.

As part of the Diwali celebrations this year, Maher, an institution working for children and women in distress, organised an interfaith bhajan function with children from all its 24 centres around Pune gathering at Vadhu-Budruk. The theme of the function was "vasundhara kutumbakam" where people from different faith recited religious verses and prayed together. "We celebrate Diwali as a festival that brings light to our lives," said sister Lucy of Maher.

Pune Ganesh Mandal members will be visiting children at Shreevatsa, a child care centre run by SOFOSH (Society of Friends of the Sasoon Hospital). They will help children make a fort and decorate the place.

"We make faral, organise Laxmi puja and distribute crackers among children," said Mamata Sarangi, resident co-coordinator.

At Sumati Balwan, a Katraj-based orphanage, several workshops were organised by fine arts students for the children. The organisation also holds an annual fort making competition during Diwali. Besides, children also make lanterns, greeting cards, diyas. "Children here don't burst crackers owing to its ill effects on the environment," said principal Manasi Deshpande.

Arun Tai, chairperson of Ishaprema Niketan, said every Diwali children at the orphanage are given sweets and crackers. "We have visitors from various sections of the society who come here and distribute Diwali goodies among children," said Tai.

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