In its special Diwali gifting series, The Mint focused on families giving away some unique Diwali gifts for friends and relatives. Anindita Ghose in an essay made mention of such off-beat gifting ideas. 

“What do you gift those who almost have everything they might need?” the writer asked, referring to the Sharmas – Jyotsana and Arjun – who decided to buy potted basil plants in lemon, camphor and tulsi varieties as Diwali gifts.

Their festive gifting plans reflect the austerity debate. But for them it’s more a practical option since the two increasingly find extravagant gifting a pointless exercise. Jyotsana testifies to the undesirable phenomenon of gift recycling. One gift she would though, never pass on is an orchid a friend gifted her. Nurturing it has become an engaging experience, which is why she chose to the green gifting idea.

She approached a local herb store to source their plants from a wide range of medicinal and exotic herbs. The couple opted for basil for its sociological ties with Indian tradition. In fact, the family has almost done away with the whole concept of gifting since the last couple of years. Instead it donates to charitable foundation.

Diwali is an occasion that prompts more donations, which would go to each family member’s chosen charity. Arjun supports Chintan, an NGO that is part of Project Arman. His mother, a doctor by profession, manages a charitable dispensary. Wife Jyotsana supports two animal shelters. A foundation named after Arjun’s father funds a hospital, temple and school in their native village. Every year, the dotting donors throw a party for the rag picking children after Diwali.

Instead of lavish gifting, the family tries to revive the tradition of get-togethers to strengthen the bonds of love. The message here is that, you can celebrate Diwali not just by splurging, but also by donating to charities, and going green. 


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