Kolkata, the fourth-largest city in India, is known as the “city of joy.” The city is known for its energy, imagination, and zest for life.

Yet at the same time, more than one-third of the population lives in slums and extremely unhygienic conditions. Children and the elderly are affected the worst.

Ei Samay, the fastest-growing regional (Bengali) newspaper daily in India, wanted to motivate residents of the city to do their part toward helping the less privileged citizens. 

We chose Durga Puja, one of the biggest festivals of India, to launch an initiative addressing these issues, setting attainable goals for our initiative, including:

  • Feed more than 15,000 underprivileged kids of Kolkata City.

  • Enable kids to start a healthy life.

  • Care for needy elderly people.

  • Work toward the betterment of the underprivileged society.
Residents of Kolkata celebrate the Durga Puja festival with Ei Samay, giving and receiving charitable assistance.
Residents of Kolkata celebrate the Durga Puja festival with Ei Samay, giving and receiving charitable assistance.

Durga Puja celebrates the victory of good over evil; during the festival, Kolkata becomes one big carnival, with everyone in the city celebrating, socialising, praying, and eating out. 

But this festival of joy has also become symbolic of commercialization and decadence, with marketers feeding the frenzy via mass media.

Ei Samay wanted to turn this tide. As a thought leader, we wanted to give back to society by spreading cheer among the less privileged community.

To launch this philanthropic campaign, we changed the popular depiction of the goddess Durga. Instead of her usual weapons of destruction, we presented her as an image of a loving mother, with elements of abundance, knowledge, food, health, and love.

Through our newspaper, an exclusive Web site, outdoor billboard advertising, radio, and Facebook, Ei Samay reached out to each and every citizen to urge them to celebrate this year’s Durga Puja differently. 

Whether donating money for the betterment of society, or sharing a day’s meal with street children, we asked for any small efforts of help to bring smiles to every face.

Children of Kolkata received food, vaccines, and other assistance during Ei Samay's Durga Puja campaign.
Children of Kolkata received food, vaccines, and other assistance during Ei Samay's Durga Puja campaign.

This initiative received wide appreciation and support from the masses, along with voluntary support from celebrities.

The Honourable Governor and Chief Minister of West Bengal, along with many other significant people from various walks of life, showed their solidarity. They talked about it, tweeted about it, and stood with Ei Samay. 

The impact was significant; we achieved more than 20,000 registrations on our Web site, and around 5,000+ shares on Facebook.

Ei Samay managed to feed more than 15,000 kids, with this initiative voluntarily supported by Oh! Calcutta, one of India’s leading restaurant chains.

Child Rights and You receives a large donation from the Ei Samay community initiative.
Child Rights and You receives a large donation from the Ei Samay community initiative.

A charitable music concert was organised, with the performers volunteering their time. All money generated was donated to partner non-governmental organisations, resulting in:

  • Child Rights and You (CRY) gave life-saving vaccines to more than 30,000 children of West Bengal.

  • Helpage India, a leading charity platform, supported cataract surgeries for 500 elderly people.

  • Mahajiban, which works for the upliftment of tribal communities, donated six computers to tribal villages, impacting 5,000 villagers in West Bengal.

Most importantly, through this platform, people reconnected with the original spirit of the festival: that of spreading joy and happiness amongst the lesser privileged.

The programme impacted thousands of lives and helped the “city of joy” enjoy this year’s Durga Puja celebrations in a more inclusive way.