From wall painting Bharathiyar to holding Parai classes: How Chennai is celebrating ‘Daan Utsav’

The people of the city have taken to the festival of giving with some unique events this year.
From wall painting Bharathiyar to holding Parai classes: How Chennai is celebrating ‘Daan Utsav’
From wall painting Bharathiyar to holding Parai classes: How Chennai is celebrating ‘Daan Utsav’
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From vegetable sellers, school children to corporates, people from different walks of life in Chennai are celebrating Daan Utsav - a festival of giving, that is celebrated between October 2 and October 8 every year.  

The initiative was started in 2009 by a group of people who thought the entire country must come together and do something good for others for one week each year. “Not one person we approached said that they will not do anything. Now, it has spread across the country, we have lost count of the cities and villages who celebrate the festival,” says Aarthi, a volunteer who is part of the initiative.  

So what’s Chennai upto this Daan Utsav? Here’s a list of some of the interesting events:

1. Painting Bharathiyar’s poetry on the city’s walls:

About 40 students from corporation schools and four artists with NalandaWay Foundation will be painting the walls on Bharathi Salai in remembrance of the poet Subramania Bharati, popularly known as Bharathiyar. “This is the wall of the Presidency College and the road leads to the place where Bharathiyar lived. Last year, we painted the Saidapet railway station with the theme of ‘100 years of Tamil cinema.’ Bharati has been close to me and the work we do. We will have his poetry painted by artists and the children. The work will be over by next week,” says Sriram, Founder of NalandaWay Foundation.

2. Parai Attam classes for Paypal employees

During Daan Utsav, several NGOs in the city raise funds for their activities in various ways. One of the NGOs got creative this time, with a two-way ‘giving’ programme. Four trained Parai Aatam artistes from Arunodaya Center For Street and Working Children conducted one hour Parai Aatam classes for 130 employees from Paypal.

“There were about six sessions and each session had about 20 to 25 employees. They contributed money for the dance training. This is like dancing for a cause,” said a co-ordinator from the organisation.

3. Dinner served to Chennai Metro Water workers

Chennai Volunteers has an initiative called ‘Dinner with Dignity’ through which they serve home-made food to the needy. So, at this event, Chennai Volunteers along with Chennai Mission who organised the dinner, provided food to about 63 field workers of the Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewage Board  from Nungambakkam (Area 9) at Loyola College.

“Rains are coming and they work really hard, they are the ones who clean our pipes and drains. So, some of us decided to recognize and honour them for keeping the city clean,” says Aarthi.

4. A 200-feet cake to raise funds

The French Loaf created a 200 feet cake based on the theme ‘Women in Cinema’. Each kilogram of cake was sold for Rs 1500 and the money from the sale was given to NGOs. The whole cake was sold off and most money was raised by Jeevan Foundation and Naam Foundation. The cake was made by Chef Bhupesh from French Loaf.

5. Children helping children

Students from corporation schools brought biscuits to schools and then it was collected and given to orphanages. They also donated sugar and rice to the orphanages, for making payasam.

“All the government officials including Higher education secretary, Education secretary and others, instantly issued circulars and sent out invitation to students to participate in this festival,” says Aarthi.

That is not it, the list goes on. The Indian Oil Corporation provided spaces in all their petrol bunks in the city to NGOs and also many corporate companies created spaces for NGOs to raise funds.

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