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Kids express their creativity in different ways, ways which sometimes become difficult for adults to grasp. A little girl with her love for arts and craft decided to use her gift to feed the needy children on Diwali. Here is Kshirja Raje’s story, in her own words.
Sep 25, 2018 at 00:00

Hi friends!

Diwali is a festival of lights. It brings harmony, delightful & love to our lives.
As I walk down the memory lane, each Diwali had been very special to me. I was blessed to live with my grandparents and parents.


My grandmother was a real storyteller. She had a huge storage of mythological stories, stories of pre-independence, poems, songs and stories of my father’s childhood, all in her head and the tip of her tongue!

And my grandfather used to play Scrabble with me. His English was very good & he studied at the Robertmony school pre-independence. On Diwali, my mother and grandmother used to make sweets and we used to enjoy times of togetherness. It’s something I haven’t forgotten till today as my mother makes packets of homemade Diwali food for the maids, the jhaduwalah, watchman, newspaper boys, and all those who help us.

My mother also used to tell me stories that her grandma had told her, that always think of the poor people around you, of those who help make your life better and share the joy with them, it makes you feel much better. I started nurturing these thoughts.

I have been watching people burning crackers but I was never attracted to use noisy crackers. My father used to talk about pollution post Diwali and people suffering from congestion during this time. I decided in my mind that I will do good things and in my own way I will celebrate this Festival of Lights.

I have been watching people burning crackers but I was never attracted to use noisy crackers. My father used to talk about pollution post Diwali and people suffering from congestion during this time. I decided in my mind that I will do good things and in my own way I will celebrate this Festival of Lights.

My grandmother told me that my father used to make lanterns for home every year till he started his engineering college. When I was in 3rd class, I had a craft assignment to make lanterns in school pre-Diwali. My father helped me and taught me the technique.

I remember, a few days prior to this lantern making, on a Sunday afternoon, I was being naughty & fussy demanding to eat ice cream. My mother took me out. Outside my society gate, I noticed a row of running kids with plates in their hands, behind a small truck. There was a gentelman serving food on the truck to the slum kids.



I was in tears, as the kids were as small as me or even younger. I felt that I was blessed to have food, shelter, clothes, education, and these small kids didn’t even know if they will get food to eat. An idea came to my mind to gather something in my own little way. I just asked my mother that how much does a lantern cost us? My mother told me that it could be 2-3Rs. So I asked my parents if we can make such lanterns and sell it to our relatives for 5 Rs or so and get the slum kids food for Diwali. My parents loved this idea and they backed me. We did diya painting, lanterns and sold them to my maternal uncles, aunts and collected some money. To this my mother added some more and we gave it to an NGO through my mother’s office collectively. I continued doing this every year and it gave me a very unusual feeling of satisfaction.

When was 9 years old, there was an exhibition on 26th January in my aunt’s complex. We went around and I was attracted by a nice stall that displayed very different paper craft envelopes, photo frames decorated with floral designs. I enquired from the lady there as to what that art was & if I can learn it? To which I got a very rude answer that I was too small to learn the paper quilling and probably my parents can learn it as it’s too difficult. My parents read the ‘hurt’ feeling in my eyes. My father consoled me and bought a couple of envelops for me.

Next day, I told my mother to search the means to learn this art. She looked in stationery stores and got a learning kit for me. I was overjoyed. And my passion for this self taught art began! I had started making shapes, rings & things as described in the booklet. A flower, a leaf, and so on….

And my journey began. I was truly encouraged by my parents and my father gifted me a book of Jane Jenkins, a great quilling artist from the UK. My quilling art had become talk of the town in my friend circle as they appreciated it through the greeting cards I presented them on their birthdays. I started using the techniques from the book and like Eklavya, I used to refine my doll making each time. My mother preserved all my work properly and the collection started to grow.

I made one full collection themed around Maharashtra sanskriti darshan in 3 days, in summer vacations and we exhibited that through one of the friend’s mother. Aai(my mother) had made a portfolio of my work with nice photos, which is her love and encouragement for my work. In 2013, she was detected with breast cancer. My tiny world was filled with fear of losing her. The pain and trouble were evident on her but she kept fighting with the disease and I used to make lovely cute dolls to please her and forget the pain. After one year of treatment, she recovered and started an NGO to create awareness among Indian women. I accompanied her for many lectures and I was sensitized more about the conditions patients have to go through.

She often mentioned that many people can’t afford the treatments and hence lose a chance of survival.
So when my parents decided to exhibit my art on Children’s day 2015, I made sure that whatever money I got, was donated to needy cancer patients.

I have been fond of reading. As much as quilling, I love books. In my own collection of library, the best of the autobiographies I read multiple times such as My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi, Wings of Fire & Ignited Minds by APJ Abdul Kalam, Playing it My Own Way by Sachin Tendulkar, Unbreakable by Mary Kom, and so on. They have played a big role in nurturing my thoughts.

This year’s Diwali, I had made decorative rangolis using paper quilling & craft. My mother has created a range of products using the prints of my dolls to support my cause & “Kshirja’s Creations” became a unique brand. We exhibited in Mahim through a group exhibition (Funability) and we are donating that collection to schools run for kids living on streets.
My aim is also to follow my passion and dream and give it back to the society. I am conducting Paper Quilling workshops for cancer patients in TMC to add some moments of fun to their lives and also for tribal kids in Sanjay Gandhi national park soon which will add value to their lives.

Friends, I feel, each one of us has some good qualities and some dreams. We need to just follow our dreams  and nurture good values. I wish you all the very best in life and remember to share your joys with others.
Kshirja Raje


Sometimes it's the smallest things which bring out those smiles.