It’s tough being a student, even more so when you’re away from home cooped up in a desolate university, far from your loved ones, and it is festival time. When some 60 hostel students of the University of Pune could not make it home for the Diwali break for some or the other reason – many are from modest backgrounds and cannot not afford the journey to and back to their native places - the varsity head decided to light up their gloomy Sunday.
When Vice-Chancellor Dr W N Gade heard about her cheerless students left dolefully to themselves, he set aside his Diwali plans and went to the hostel to celebrate the festival of lights with the students on Sunday. Gade himself hails from a small village called Lihida, located in the interiors of Amravati district. During his college days, most of his Diwali vacations were spent alone at hostel.
“I had also faced a similar situation during my college days. So I know how these students are feeling in this festive season. That’s why, after coming to know about them from the student welfare department, I decided to spend some time with them,” Gade said to MiD DAY. He was with the students for almost two hours in the afternoon.
Moreover, the university’s student welfare department organised a programme for the youth and gifted them special food packets. Director of the department Pandit Shelke said, “Just one day prior to Diwali, some students working under the ‘earn and learn’ scheme came to my office to offer me their Diwali wishes.
I suddenly realised that these students were not going to their homes and that it would be quite difficult for them to spend the entire festival alone in the hostel. So I contacted the VC and he immediately asked me to arrange a small function for them and promised me that he himself would attend it, too. For the first time, the university celebrated Diwali with the students who couldn’t make it back home on the occasion.”
The VC added, “There are many reasons for why these students are on campus and not in their respective hometowns. Some of them come from faraway regions like Gadchiroli in western Maharashtra, which takes almost two days to reach from Pune by road. A couple of girls are from Jammu and Kashmir. For the rest, their exams have been scheduled just after Diwali vacations, so they had to stay back in the hostels,” the VC said.
‘For us, it was a was a very Happy Diwali’
The students were moved by the VC’s gesture and the varsity’s consideration for them. “Such unique Diwali celebrations on the campus and that too with Gade Sir! It was a real surprise for all of us. I enjoyed the opportunity of interacting one-to-one with him,” said Chetan Kamble, a second-year MA (Marathi) student, originally from Yavatmal district.
“Distance is one of the reasons we have not gone home. But the main reason, for most of us, is that our families are not financially sound and we cannot afford to make a trip just for celebrating Diwali with them,” said another student, adding, “But we will never forget this year’s Diwali, as the university made it special for us and the VC himself gave us his time.”
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