Buy this Deepavali kit, help Nimhans patients

Festival kit designed by patients at Nimhans

Spending Rs 300 on a Deepavali kit may seem like a regular festival expense, but buying the elegantly put together diya and rangoli combo across the counter at Nimhans has a greater significance.

For starters, 30 mentally ill and retarded patients at the institute’s rehab centre would feel valued and counted as a dignified citizen. And, of course, the money would fund a trip to the movie theatre or a bicycle for them, pleasures normal folks get so easily.

The patients spent over three months with their mentors to design 500 kits, available at an outlet near the Nandini store, opposite the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services Department, for Rs 300 each.

“We tried (designing the kits) even during Holi,” said Dr T Sivakumar, associate professor, psychiatric rehabilitation services, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (Nimhans).

“We collected dried flowers from nearby temples, powdered and packed (by patients) for use as organic colours. We received a positive response. We collected a lakh from the sales and distributed the money among the patients based on their contributions,” he added.

Dr Sivakumar said the institute is checking with corporate houses and non-governmental organisations to see if sale of the kits could be allowed on their premises. The initiative, doctors believe, would utilise the skills of those trained at the rehab centre while also creating awareness about mental health.

“We have day boarders who hand painted the diyas,” Dr Sivakumar revealed.

“The rangoli colour (part of the kit) is made of dried flowers. We had outsourced the package materials and rangoli stencils.” 

Similar initiative during Holi

The positive response for the kits made during Holi has prompted the institute to increase production this time around.

Nimhans has joined hands with NGO Craftisan, which provides training and technical inputs for the project.

“This would showcase the abilities of those with a mental illness,” Dr Sivakumar said. “People think the mentally ill have nothing much to do. But we are showing what can be done through training and exposure.” 

From the patients’ perspective, their self-esteem will get a boost when someone buys what they have made, Dr Sivakumar added. “With the profits we make, we take them out for movies. In the past, we have bought shoes and cycles for them,” he said.  

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