Jawaharlal Nehru, whose fondness for children earned him the affectionate title of Chacha Nehru, did not distinguish between children of different classes, religions or nationalities. Once, while visiting an exhibition of pictures and cartoons, Nehru was delighted at the performance of the children. He expressed his delight thus: "As I looked at the pictures I thought of the vast army of children all over the world, outwardly different in many ways, speaking different languages wearing different kinds of clothes and yet so very like one another. If you bring them together they play or quarrel. But even their quarrel is some kind of play. They do not think of differences of class, colour or status." A wonderful and accurate observation that only a truly great man can make.
The manner in which Garden School at Cherai celebrates Children’s Day is a fitting tribute to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The Garden School invites marginalised children from different sections of the society to the school and organises an entertainment programme for them. This year, on Saturday November 13, the school invited 18 girls from Divya Prabha, a home for street girls at Vartak Nagar, to its school premises, who along with the students of Garden School, enjoyed a special programme celebrating Diwali and Children’s Day together.
The children were divided into two batches. At 7 pm, the first batch, consisting of nursery students attended the programme. Later, it was the turn of slightly older students, (aged 4 to 10 years) from the Enrichment Class of Garden School. These older children were grouped with the girls from Divya Prabha. A magic show by city-based magician Shukesh Kumar was a big hit with the older children. Because the show was interactive (the children were made to participate in the magic), they thoroughly enjoyed the magic show. After the magic show, the children were served snacks. As they settled down, the highlight of the day, Chacha Deepak, made his entry. A unique personality, not unlike Santa Claus, Chacha Deepak was dressed somewhat like the Air-India Maharaja, complete with a turban, a colourful outfit and a long white beard on his face. Chacha Deepak regaled the children by his mere presence. He went around meeting all children, shaking their hands, playing with them, making a human train and generally entertaining them. Later Chacha Deepak (Deepak stands for Light) stand lit up sparklers along with children to celebrate the festival of lights.
Anand Turakia, the man who became Chacha Deepak, is father of an ex-student of Garden School. He regularly involves himself with activities of the School and he played an important role in organising this programme as well. "I enjoy playing the role of Chacha Deepak. Many children try to pull out my beard out of curiosity. They want to know who is the person behind all the heavy make up and beard."
The street children enjoyed the programme as much as the school children. Before they left, Chacha Deepak presented them with a stainless steel glass filled with Diwali sweets. This gift is procured with the money collected throughout the year from the regular students of Garden School. Every week, these children contribute two rupees for marginalised children. In August, on the occasion of Independence Day, the school distributed fruits among children the remand home. The gifts may be small in value, but the thoughts of sharing and togetherness make them invaluable indeed.
Festival of Lights
On Monday, about 225 women and children, who have no one to depend on, celebrated Diwali with enthusiasm and love, thanks to the volunteers of the Council of Catholic Women of India’s Thane unit. For more than 10 years now, volunteers from the Council of Catholic Women of India have been celebrating Diwali with the inhabitants of Premdan, Mother Teresa’s Home for the destitute at Airoli.
The volunteers of the council spent an entire day with the inmates, creating rangolis, playing the guitar, singing songs, and dancing merrily to the popular Hindi songs. Firecrackers delighted the children and women equally and there was much happiness in the air. One of the volunteers Sharon Scott, who brought along with her people of different faiths, sponsored Chicken Biryani for all 225 women and children – needless to say, everyone relished it. It truly was a festival of lights for the deprived women and children, because the love and affection the volunteers distributed lit up their hearts and souls.