Diwali mela 2019
Preparations & planning
We have been conducting Diwali Melas successfully for the past two years and this was Gyandeep’s third year. We wanted to do something very different this year. After some deliberations among all the volunteers, we decided to enhance the Diwali Mela as a platform primarily for Skill Development, in various aspects.
With the idea of Skill Development being the focus, we wanted to start early and conduct several workshops with volunteers and children. We were looking for a place for several weeks where we could do this. Gen Nikhil Kumar who is a neighbor had often offered to help in any way. He suggested and offered us the free use of his basement for over a month. This was a Godsend and suited our need immensely. Thank you for making the world a kinder place. Humanity is well and thriving. God bless all our well-wishers.
To start with, we defined the different skill areas that could be used to impart training to the children. These are listed below along with the outcomes that we could achieve.
a. Eminent artists, were invited and taught the volunteers and took workshops with us and the children. They taught us the concept and the basics, the materials to be used and various tricks and tips to achieve a high quality. Outcome – The children made various items in this genre such as trays, cutlery holders, coasters, mobile phone hoders. The excitement of going and buying the raw material from wholesalers and getting ideas from all sources was so high among all the volunteers.
a. In the scorching summer heat, we wanted to use every bit of the power of the sun. We taught the children several different kinds of savory papads that each of us knew – eg, Sabudana papads. These were dried and packed and stored – enough to sell and last for the whole year.
Mango pickles (3-4 types), chilly pickle, amla pickle. Here too, each volunteer contributed their own style of pickle making and traditional recipes were used.
Confectionery & Baking
Professional bakers and confectioners taught the children different types of confectioneries very patiently. They taught baking and also how to pack and enhance the attractiveness of the product. They also shared their experience about being a hotelier and how one can pursue it as a career.
They taught the children baking in their beautiful studio as well. From buying raw materials to baking, smart packing was taught and demonstrated to the children.
Our volunteers taught them the cement craft . They made various candle holders and planters using both grey and white cement. These were also decorated using marble painting and other techniques.
Envelops, bookmarks were made from fresh paper materials .
Recycled newspaper and magazines were used to make fancy items like pen-holders, hand bags, vases, etc.
Dupattas were hand painted to enhance their value using creativity and high quality of worksmanship.
Plants and Planters
Teaching the children how to choose and decorate and even make planters was an interesting activity in Gyandeep. Each child was also encouraged to plant a sapling and then take care of it for several weeks. These saplings were then also offered during the mela as gift items.
Each of our volunteers is an expert cook and has some secret masalas that are handed down in the family and which they use. The volunteers taught the children how to make these. The exact proportions were written down and a menu of about 12 masalas was created. Grinding and blending was done under expert supervision. Paratha, Biryani, Sambhar, Rasam, Chaat, Bhoona chaat, Dry chutney, Tandoori masala are some of the mouth-watering items.
Nearly five hundred glass bottles were filled and then sealed (yet another activity taught). A beautiful set of labels was created and affixed – an a Brand Gyandeep was created.
Diyas & candles
About a month prior to the Mela, we bought clay diyas of different shapes and sizes from the potters’market in Uttam nagar. We also bought wax and wicks and learnt how to fill the diyas from yet another volunteer. The diyas were enhanced with colour, glitter and fragrances. The quality and longevity was much better than anything available in the market.
During our purchase of diyas, we discussed and learnt from the potters about their business and got a feel for it. Ideas for next time ?
We packed diyas for sale. This is now a repeat activity and our children have acquired expertise in it. It was amazing to see the older ones teach the newcomers and how quickly the children learn.
With the help of professionals, our volunteers and children learn to make different flavors of bath soaps – Aloe Vera, Haldi Chandan, Rose. As we were using the best quality essential oils and colors, the end product was amazing.
Each product was cut and packed aesthetically by hand.
While all the skills were taught to the children and the volunteers during the summer holidays, the idea was to make good products and finally sell them in the Diwali Mela. That would be the real test of how well we had done in terms of the physical output. Apart from the skill and knowledge, the physical test was also important. The journey from learning to make to learning to sell was an interesting and fruitful one. The bond between the children, their parents and the volunteers became strong. The confidence and mutual trust grew multifold.
Clay moulding, nice decorative tiles, Ganesha statues, hangings with birds and clay jewellery was all intricately made and painted. The talents and patience of each child was showing. What a wonderful learning experience this was!
Every box had to be ticked
a. Purchase of Raw Material
b. Learning to create
c. Actually creating high quality products and in the scale that we wanted to
d. Excellent packaging and display
e. Correct pricing
f. Talking etiquette and explaining to the customers
g. The motto was that the person buying the product must do so, not because it is for a good cause or for charity, but because it is worth it.
We took contributions from every child and from every volunteer. And it was agreed that the profits from the entire project would be distributed to each contributor. This was done in earlier years too and created great enthusiasm in the ‘stakeholders’.
The day of the mela
After the long training and preparation, finally came the D Day. The duties were assigned to each child and some parents who wished to. All volunteers had their tasks assigned.
Cleaning of the lane
Placement of the stalls
Decorating the entire lane and each stall
Garbage management and continuing cleanliness
Each child and volunteer felt such ownership that each felt it is their own function
The event started at 12 noon. Our guests arrived. The senior citizens of the colony and some invitees were invited for the inauguration. There was no Chief Guest as each Guest was Special. The occasion started with a prayer and a short speech explain what we had done and thanking everyone for their support.
There were about 12 stalls, each showcasing one of the skill areas. Each stall was typically manned by one volunteer and one child. The children were encouraged to interact with the customers and it was amazing how well they did it. The sales transaction was conducted by the child and an account of the cash and account was maintained simultaneously.
There was a packed food stall and There were also about 6 stalls for fresh food. The stalls included
These were a great hit and virtually sold out
There were a few games stalls for guests and these were constantly full. The children conducted the games with a lot of patience and fun.
As the venue was the N Block Art Lane, the guests enjoyed looking at the frescoes and the Selfie Points were used by all.
The entire lane had been decorated and as evening came, the lights came on providing a different festive look.
After the last guest left by 8 pm, the children and volunteers stayed on to clean up the lane. The stalls were dismantled and folded properly. All stray packing papers and minor garbage was put together and kept for the morning clearance. The idea was not just to leave the lane clean, but also to leave this message ingrained in the children.
We could sell most of the items that we had created. Some of the volunteers who had planned to buy later were in fact left with nothing to buy.
The sales revenue covered our costs and left a small profit. This was equally distributed to the contributors.
The glow in the eyes of our children and the confidence with which they talk about the mela has been a true testimony to what we achieved through this event !! The journey was amazing.
We can have our own brands and generate employment B
The plan now is to have our own Gyandeep Kitchen/Gyandeep Garden/Gyandeep crafts/Baazar