By Juhi Amodwala
One of the challenges during the Covid pandemic has been finding ways to celebrate holidays while having to social distance from friends and family. Diwali, the hindu festival of lights, is celebrated by people from South Asia all over the world. Usually, during Diwali there are programs at the temples, people visit loved ones and enjoy festive meals together none of which are possible this year.
South Asian International Volunteer Association (SAIVA) is a central Texas-based non-profit organization whose mission is to combat social isolation in South Asian older adults by empowering them to become active participants in the community.
During this unique year, SAIVA realized that not just older adults but most of the community was experiencing social isolation to some extent.
In an effort to connect the community and spread joy this Diwali, SAIVA created their first ever Diwali in a Box.
Each box included all the essentials families would need to celebrate Diwali at home including diyas, sweets, sparklers, marigold seeds and rangoli (colored powders used to create decorations).
Unable to meet their loved ones in person, people could order Diwali boxes to be personally delivered to their friends and family to celebrate Diwali!
As a busy mom of two, project coordinator and former SAIVA board member, Palak Sadarangani was inspired to create these boxes when she realized how difficult it was to run around various stores to gather all the supplies needed to celebrate Diwali.
While looking for a fundraising project this fall, she thought why not make and deliver ‘Diwali boxes’ which could give SAIVA members a meaningful way to connect to the community while they were social distancing.
Making and assembling parts of the Diwali Boxes made senior members of SAIVA feel connected to the community that would enjoy them. “In retrospect, I realized that these boxes also promote intergenerational interaction which is one of the key pillars of SAIVA,’’ said Sadarangani.
“Diwali traditions are often passed down from grandparents to grandchildren so it made total sense for senior SAIVA members to help with making boxes that include traditional Diwali activities and the meaning behind them.”
“Thank you so much for the lovely Diwali Box! My daughters and I have had so much fun going through all the items, and learning about Diwali traditions. I also love that it benefits such a worthy cause.” This is a feedback from one of the recipients of the SAIVA Diwali Box.
By delivering over 350 boxes, SAIVA spread the Diwali spirit all over central Texas and encouraged people to celebrate in pandemic-friendly ways.
Proceeds raised from the boxes will be used for programming to help seniors combat social isolation and contribute back to the community..
Please visit www.SAIVA.org to find out more about programming, to donate or to find out about volunteer opportunities to get involved.