Celebrating the New Year with Hope and Remembrance

by Tara Sarath, Volunteer Coordinator

 

Any party that begins with a gravity defying cab ride is bound to be a great one. On October 8 I hurtled off in a yellow cab along with Sakhi staff, interns and volunteers to host our annual Eid/Diwali Party for survivors.

At Sakhi everyone is expected to pitch in, but it is also mandated that everyone have fun. For me that realization came as another Sakhi intern and I were trying frantically to arrange chairs. We ended up trapping ourselves in an MC Esher -esque chair installation. For the survivors however, I’d say that moment came whenever another survivor arrived: Everyone would get up and welcome her with genuine and heartfelt happiness.

The loud, involved and impromptu game of Bollywood beat musical chairs was definite proof that everyone was enjoying themselves. Groups of women, in a dazzling array of clothing; chatted together, arranged and rearranged around the groups of laughing children chasing each other and participating in various games, while the younger children were coloring under the patient supervision of Sakhi volunteers.

There was no sign of the economic pinch of the last year, as the potluck table was piled high with steaming Desi food. The uptown restaurant Aangan generously subsidized a lavish spread of rice, naan, daal and paneer. The traditional cake was, of course, present – piled high with icing sugar flowers, courtesy of a Sakhi volunteer.

Towards the end of the evening the party kicked into high gear, with some survivors even dancing on the stage. I marveled once again at their tirelessness, their energy and above all their tremendous spirit which survives in spite of the hardships they have endured.

The holiday party is, after all, about celebrating our Sakhi community, about the survivors, staff, and volunteers coming together to share and spread the meaning of the organization. Former intern Aishwarya Iyer (once a Sakhi, always a Sakhi!) says, “being able to celebrate Eid and Diwali with the survivors, Sakhi staff and other volunteers was truly special – everyone was in a festive and celebratory mood, and it was so wonderful to see the kids have such a great time.” Another volunteer, Parul Agarwal, adds, “The joy of playing with the children and listening to their stories was a journey back into my childhood. The enthusiasm that the survivors brought to the event was delightful – a memorable evening!”

Diwali is about victory and Eid is a day for remembrance. Events such as this one remind me how, across their faiths and backgrounds; Sakhi unites women in their hope for better days and a celebrates how far they’ve come.