Festivals like Navaratri and Diwali involve a great deal of gifting across the country. After all, it makes an occasion all the more joyous. Many begin their preparation for the festive season months in advance. This anticipation of the festival is sometimes more special than the festival itself.
For the longest time, avid traveller and writer Anubhuti Krishna did not understand the craze around Diwali gifting. The noise, crazy traffic, and crowded markets left her irritated. “But what I disliked the most is how impersonal these gifts were: a chocolate packet for people who may be diabetic, crystal glasses for people who do not drink, months old dry fruit trays, weeks old pre-packed sweets. Then there was passing on of gifts. You were lucky if your gift didn’t return to you. The experience taught the value of a good gift. It helped that I have received some thoughtful presents which I know were bought especially for me,” says Anubhuti, who is mindful of what the receiver likes and yet finds a way to share something she cherishes as well.
Paint it green
Every year, Anuradha Mahadevan, a teacher, spends considerable time planning her festival gifts. It is an extension of her beliefs about sustainability as well. “I gave away potted jasmine plants to all those who came home for Navaratri last year. This year, when I visited my friends’ homes, I saw those plants in their garden in full bloom. It gives us a lot of joy to see it. Today, the biggest change is that people are completely doing away with plastic packaging and are giving everything in glass jars, metal containers or cloth bags that can be used later. Many of my friends gave me seeds and tote bags as well,” she says.
With sustainability and green movement gaining momentum, plants are indeed becoming a new favourite among people. “Simply put, plants are good for you. Unlike other gifts, they do not get outdated. They stay with the person as long as they nurture it well. The presence of a plant in the room or at the work desk can help considerably in reducing stress and making the air around you fresher. Be it corporate gifting, baby showers or wedding, people prefer to give out plants as return gifts,” says Shifa Kazi, creative gardener and founder, Botany Castle.
The problem of single-use plastic has been worrying for quite some time. Author and culinary trainer Sangeeta Khanna believes we shouldn’t be encouraging the use of plastic in packaging. “Apart from that, loads of cheaply packaged junk foods have made their space in the Diwali hampers. From cheaply processed chocolates to tetra pack soft drinks, preserved cakes and cookies have become fashionable. Even the decorative items that are sent out in hampers are made of plastic and synthetic material that ends up in landfills soon after Diwali,” says Sangeeta. But there are some favourites from the festive season. “I treasure some gifts I have received over the years from friends, family and even businesses. Some really beautiful terrariums, potted plants, a hamper of seeds, compost mix, earthenware pots and homemade organic besan laddu packed in a kansa bowl are some of the best gifts I can remember.”
It is not all that difficult. A little bit of thought, some research and a lot of love will ensure that the gift you choose becomes special.