Seva Melas

The Badamba Story

In 2015, during #DaanUtsav, something phenomenal happened in Badamba – a small block of villages in rural Odisha. Over 3,000 villagers got together and organised the ‘Badamba Seva Mahotsav’ on Oct 8, 2015. The story behind this one-day giving Mahotsav is very inspirational.

In August 2015, two youngsters, Raja and Manoj from rural Odisha were inspired by the idea of celebrating #DaanUtsav – India’s festival of giving. They held a series of consultations with villagers on how the festival could be celebrated. The conclusion: have a ‘seva mahotsav’ – a fair where people from all walks of life would come under one roof and celebrate the joy in giving. They roped in the other youth of the village and spread the message of the festival through sloganeering and rallying on streets. The best part about this was that everything for the fair was crowdsourced.

An elderly villager who did not have a family arranged for food for 3,000-odd people at the fair. He said, “If I had sons and got them married, I would have hosted a lavish wedding and spent all my money on it… so why can I not give food to the people instead during #DaanUtsav.’ He added that this would make him feel happy! A tea-seller overheard a #DaanUtsav-related conversation and said that he wanted to contribute by giving pens for the mela. A chain of givers was soon formed when this small group of volunteers formed a Badamba What’s App group to post about the developments and initiatives around #DaanUtsav. What happened next is fascinating!

Everyone in the village started volunteering by offering something or the other to make the mela a success. The tent guy offered tents and other paraphernalia for free, a well-known hospital in the region came onboard to organise a free health camp for the aged, the elderly attended the fair and donated whatever meagre money they had in their pockets. Many other stalls were also set up. There was food for everyone, cakes for kids, music, and what not. Everyone wore a #happydot to mark the celebration. The following year, in 2016, seva melas were organised on a bigger scale in several villages like Badamba. One of them was Daspalla. About 20,000 people in a cluster of 100 villages around Daspalla block in Odisha’s Nayagarh district have come together to celebrate Daan Utsav on October 3, 2016.

If several colonies and areas in every urban and rural city of India could celebrate giving in such a selfless and fun way, it would go a big way in upping the country’s happiness and compassion quotient! You could help evangelise the idea of #DaanUtsav by creating a similar seva mahotsav in your area or colony! So, are you ready to take the first step? Watch the original coverage of the Badamba Seva Mahotsav 2015 here.

Here are some tips that will help you kickstart the preparations for a seva mela in your area during #DaanUtsav:

  • Talk to the residents in your area:Tell them about #DaanUtsav and explain the concept behind celebrating the festival. Feel free to share information from this toolkit as well as the other toolkits on the website. Use this opportunity to build your own army and set the ball rolling.
  • Engage the youth to evangelise the idea:Not just that, get them to own some of the events. Young people fancy the idea of ownership and driving things to achieve goals. So, apart from explaining the festival to them, tell them how they hold the power to make a difference in the society. Trust them with the baton!
  • Engage the local authorities: Do this not just to ensure smooth proceedings around and during the mela, but also to make everyone a part of the festival. This is a crowdsourced event and everyone is welcome to give and receive anything and everything.
  • Use social media to spread the word:Use social media platforms such as What’s App and Facebook to talk about your event. Post pictures of the preparation stages – right from the time you start reaching out to people to drawing a plan of the mela venue and from printing collaterals well in advance to preparing food for the day! The more people get to know about these initiatives, the more crowd you’ll be able to attract.
  • Choose a centrally-located venue:Considering people from all ages and walks of life will be attending the mela, it would be a good idea to select a venue that’s easily accessible from all corners of your city/area.
  • General tips:Click here to download files for printing collaterals such as posters, banners, stickers, #HappyDots, etc. Begin preparations at least 40 days in advance. For any questions, feel free to reach out to #DaanUtsav volunteers in your city/region.