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5 ways to give more & spend less this diwali


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October 01, 2014
The Economic Times
Rachna Monga Koppikar


5 ways to give more & spend less this diwali

et-5-ways-to-give-more-spend-less-this-diwaliRachna Monga Koppikar is a finance writer who's worked with India's leading publications for well over a decade. Having swam and mastered the treacherous waters of corporate and personal finance; she is now on a mission through her blog, TheGreatGruhini.com to make every Indian woman a Money Savvy Woman and a Money Savvy Mom!

The gift of inner peace is the best gift to give this Diwali

Diwali is just a week away. Shopping, gifts, decoration, get-togethers are on the top of the to-do-list for all of us. But after years of celebrating Diwali of exchanging gifts, buying new clothes, I have realised that there is no end to which I can spend on looking good, making my house look good or having Diwali bashes!

While getting that oh-so gorgeous saree, or that to-die-for handbag are definitely tantalising options, I decided to "gift" myself something more lasting, something more innate. What could it possibly be? Read on to find out.

Since the last few years, my Diwali shopping has begun with a visit to the bylanes of Mahalakshmi temple in central Mumbai. Not for any festival dhamaka offers, but for beautiful Diwali torans, brocade purses and fancy gift papers among other things. These are handmade by children and young adults with special needs at Shraddha Charitable Trust which runs the school.

Just imagining my house lit up with lamps made from those delicate hands, gives me an inner glow that no artificial lighting can match. Oh yes, it's light on my wallet and it's quick shopping as I don't have to suffocate myself in busy malls or crowded shopping streets to obtain these.

So join me in making this Diwali the one where we get little less self-indulgent, more generous in giving not just our money, but our time also. And from one great Gruhini to another, here are 5 ways to get you started:

1. Shun Chinese, buy handcrafted Diwali items from non-government organisation (NGO) fairs: The Chinese stuff won't last till next Diwali, but the handmade items will have a longer life, will be eco-friendly and more importantly it will leave a long-lasting smile on the faces of those who make it. Spot your city's online directory to know about NGO fairs or melas which might be going on currently.

2. Buy new toys, deposit old to ToyBank.org: The sparkle in the eyes of kids who can't afford toys will be more priceless then the sparkle of the crackers. So pack up your child's toys he doesn't need and donate it through toybank. It's currently providing such services in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Pune.

3. Be a volunteer for a day: There can't be a better way to teach your children about giving it back to the society. Choose a volunteering service through websites such as ivolunteer.in or karmayog.org. On these website, NGOs lists out volunteering opportunities for a day or for a particular time frame. Spend a day along with your children being a volunteer for a cause.

4. Cook, share and celebrate at an orphanage: There is fun in making Diwali goodies for your guests, but it will be more pleasurable if you do for those who don't get to eat mama's home-cooked food. Cook or bake something at home, and share it with the kids in the orphanage or with the elders in the old age home, whichever is closer for you.

5. Donate online, if you are really busy: If you are working 24X7, you can still be generous. Get online and donate for a cause. There are several websites such as GiveIndia where you can choose a cause and make an online donation. Or you can visit independent NGOs dedicated to one cause like Project Nanhi Kali for educating a girl child or Pratham which is dedicated to education for all.

And here's the best part, although you are gifting others, you have actually gifted yourself; the gift of "inner peace". What could possibly be better?

Best wishes from the Great Gruhini for a very happy, prosperous and peaceful Diwali!