Daan Utsav (also known as ‘the Joy of Giving’) is a ‘festival of philanthropy’ or just ‘an occasion to spread love’, which aims to become a part of the Indian ethos. It is celebrated every year for a week, covering the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, by engaging people through ‘acts of giving’—money, time, resources and skills—spanning the corporate, NGO and government sectors, schools, colleges and the general public.
On October 6, 2017, a stall was arranged for the rural women of SARVAM to display their handicrafts and products for an exhibition and sale at the Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Financial Services, Chennai. L&T has been a corporate partner of SARVAM in many village development activities for the last several years, and in a repeat of last year invited SARVAM to participate in an exhibition and sale mela at their office premises.
At the stall, all the products displayed—jute articles, including bags in various sizes; terracotta toys, figurines and idols; artificial jewelry; cloth foot mats and cushions; organic phenyl and cleaning supplies; food products including syrups, etc.—were prepared by the SARVAM village women themselves. Since they had some experience of running a similar stall from last year, their confidence and planning levels were very high. From the day of the announcement, they decided among themselves the names of the 3 coordinators and 2 volunteers from the village who would travel to Chennai to manage the stall. They prepared rate list, price tags, stickers, leaflets and handouts about the products and banners very professionally to make the occasion a pleasant and satisfying experience for all the visitors to the stall.
On the day of the mela, they set up the stall in no time, displaying with a quiet pride and self-assurance that their products should be appreciated for their quality and elegance. Once the visitors started visiting their stalls and a brisk sale of the products commenced, they spoke with poise about their products and the features of each item. The quality of their products was so good that they did not need to convince or market the products at all. Through just the word of mouth from satisfied customers, many buyers came to the SARVAM stall and within a very limited time, products worth Rs 20,000 were sold.
The women had to wind up their display early in the evening as they needed the 3.5-hour travel time back to Pondicherry, so a few products of their inventory remained, but the an entire event went a long way in boosting the spirit and belief of these women that the handicraft and skill classes that they are attending under SARVAM projects will help them not only to earn a living, but also generate appreciation for handmade, rural products of good quality. The Joy of Giving Festival was a good opportunity for the rural and urban India to recognize the value of each other.