For four youth in Madurai, Deepavali celebration starts a day in advance with visits to destitute and abandoned elders and children’s homes in the city.
Last Friday, they along with a few other friends visited five children and elderly homes and distributed new clothes and some cash.
Nine elderly women living in a home run by the Thiruparankundram temple near Madurai blessed them in an emotion-choked voice after receiving a blanket and Rs 50 each.
“Since monsoon has set in, we suggested blankets instead of sarees for Deepavali. We wholeheartedly thank you for this gesture,” the women said. Within the next four hours, the youth visited more homes and shared the gifts. “In the evening on Saturday, we distributed new clothes to 15 destitute people living in the roadside in the city,” informs J Athi Kumar of Southgate.
The turning point in the lives of the quartet, who spent their childhood together as they went to the same school and college in Madurai, came in 2006 after the death of a buddy, Ram Kumar, during their final year in the college.
To mark the first year of his death, they distributed new clothes and cash to the destitute.
“By and by, it became a regular practice even during non-Deepavali days. People in need of help started approaching us,” says J Meikandadevan of Villapuram, Madurai.
“A year later, we decided to celebrate Deepavali with abandoned children and elders, to spread the festival spirit. We don’t have the resources to help all people in need, but can at least inspire others to experience the joy of giving,” says Athi Kumar with a sparkle in his eyes.
The quartet has now formed an association called ‘Caring for the Uncared’. “We collect nearly Rs 15,000 from friends to buy materials like new clothes,” informs N Balamurugan and Ruban Raj, the other two members of the association.
A day after distributing new clothes, here’s the follow-up action: on Deepavali day, they go back to the beneficiaries. “We greet them and give some cash for lunch,” adds Athi Kumar.
Inspired by the initiative, B Udayakumar, development officer of Help Age India, a non-profit organisation, mobilised support for providing gifts to elders and the destitute during this Deepavali season.
Udayakumar, along with two friends, Sundararajan and Thangaraj, accompanied the Caring for Uncared group to many homes on Saturday and distributed gifts and cash to elders and children in orphanages. Clearly, the festive spirit and cheer of Deepavali is catching up.