Offerings to Gods

We in India give generously to our gods if not to people who need it the most (pun intended). A country where people worship multiple gods and goddesses, offerings to these deities are made in various ways and one of them is in the form of flowers.

It is estimated that some 800 million tonnes of flowers, including roses and yellow marigolds, are offered across temples mosques and gurudwaras in the country with the second highest population in the world. Now imagine if people were to receive them instead. But that is not the point.

What happens to these heaps of flowers which are liberally showered day after day and month after month with devotion? Well, maybe one thinks they are dumped in landfills. But no, majority of them aren’t. Not in India where these flowers are considered sacred. So where do they go?

Most of them get thrown into local water bodies like rivers, ponds and lakes, that too without any segregation of biodegradable and non-biodegradable components. The logic being that most rivers are considered sacred too, specially the Ganges.

While industrial runoff is often singularly blamed for the spike in pollution level in majority of the rivers in India, floral waste rarely gets the blame. Believe it or not but floral waste reportedly accounts for almost 16 per cent of the total river pollutants. Toxic Arsenic, Lead and Cadmium from the harmful farm-runoff, pesticides and insecticides used to grow flowers mixes with the river water making it highly poisonous (PH 6-8.5). These major pollutants affect the lives of 400 Million people linked to contracting dysentery, cholera, hepatitis and severe diarrhoea, which are the leading causes of child mortality across India and Bangladesh. While rotting flowers affect the water quality, the pesticides that are used on them, leach into the waters harming marine life as well.

Human beings are creative beings, and fortunately there is a segment of people who have come up with various solutions to tackle this sacred issue which is ultimately harming the environment and life in more ways than we can think of.

Avacayam, The Art of Living Foundation and Help Us Green are some of the foundations that have been successful in giving these flowers a new life. Avacayam for instance, is not only recycling these flowers into organic Holi colours but is also enhancing the livelihood of disabled people by empowering them to make these beautiful colours. Similarly the other two have also come up with creative ways to upcycle these flowers into incense sticks and other products.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

—Margaret Mead

Next time when you decide to offer flowers to deities, think twice. Will be even better if you could buy upcyled products made from flowers as well and be a part of bringing about a change.

Our Story of Squares

What is a foot square of knitted wool worth? Maybe not much you may think.

But we thought otherwise, such squares when stitched together became blankets. And these blankets aren’t the result of one person making all the squares. We had innumerable volunteers from different parts of the country, from children to senior citizens who contributed towards this drive. From a family, who’s three generations got together to senior citizens, all found this activity to be the most enjoyable and exciting; all for a purpose.

A volunteer, Surbhi Sinha, a senior citizen from Delhi, wrote to us saying, “An Inch of Warmth is a great idea and I salute this initiative. We may not be able to make a big blanket but to contribute according to your own ability feels lovely. I recognised my squares on the completed blanket and I plan to do more – as there are no deadlines, it’s a long winter and many more people in need.” She continues to knit squares even now. There are many such heart warming testimonials from volunteers who also found knitting to be therapeutic.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.

Vincent Van Gogh

Through our initiative we were able to create six blankets which were eventually donated to a marginalised group of people being taken care by St Stephans Hospital Community program at Sunder Nagri, Delhi. We are definitely motivated to aim for many more in the near future.

We agree that a foot square of knitted wool, may not have much value on its own, but now the value that’s created out of such squares is; Priceless. With the request of all volunteers involved in this we are now continuing this drive, making it an ongoing collaborative drive because all the smiles are totally worth it.

An Inch of Warmth

2020 has been a turning point for humanity. The year that experienced an unprecedented pandemic no one was prepared for. Undoubtedly, it has taken a toll on many lives in various forms, in the extremity of which many lost their lives.

In a situation where so many people are feeling helpless and hopeless, is there anything that we can do in our capacity, we wondered. And then came the idea of #aninchofwarmth. An all inclusive drive which includes people of all ages and the specially abled group of people that we have been associated with since a few years.

A simple idea, where all you need to do is knit wool or crochet, into a 12″ by 12″ inch square of any color and drop it at our collection points located in Delhi and Gurgaon. For people who are not from these cities, we encouraged them to courier it to us.

These squares, after being stitched into a blanket by the specially abled group of people at Avacayam will then be distributed to the underprivileged.

It’s a drive to encourage all the talented people who love to knit, to come together and spread some cheer in a not so cheerful environment. Some warmth to people who don’t have anything to keep them warm. Some excitement to the ones who will stitch these colorful pieces together. And an opportunity to contribute to the society and the environment which we sometimes feel is far reaching.

An idea which has already had its initial ripple effects of reaching 7 cities in India and we are very close to completing our first blanket too.

Bottomline is, let’s change the equation from being receivers to being givers. The times are tough for everyone but there is always something one can give back or share.

Share your inch of warmth.

Whose Grass is Greener

grass is greener book

Love thy neighbor versus envy thy neighbor, we would prefer to go with the former. It’s probably more peaceful that way, no matter how green the neighbor’s grass may seem. And the best way to convince yourself to love thy neighbor is to keep repeating, ‘The grass is greener this side of the fence’. Even better is to buy a notebook with this slogan on it.

We did what we do best, we made eco-friendly notebooks with this slogan. It’s made of handmade paper recycled from cotton rags. Available at The White Light.