DIR works closely with staff and health promoters to mark special occasions that reflect the diversity of the basti population, which comprises Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities that have migrated from villages that have long-held customs and traditions. At each event, DIR seeks to celebrate diversity while promoting cultural sensitivity. For example, during DIR Cultural Nights, we invite both DIR staff and residents of Janta Colony to perform traditional dance, sing in their local languages or dialects, or recite poetry or engage in traditional story-telling.
When possible and appropriate, DIR uses these events to subtly initiate change in thinking and behavior.
On 13 January of each year, for example, people across the Punjab and in other northern states celebrate the festival of Lohri – officially marking the end of the winter season. During the day, children go from door to door, singing songs and collecting sweets and savories in return. Traditionally, Lohri is also a occasion to celebrate all of the male children born in the past 12 months. In Janta Colony, DIR promotes the celebration of all children up to one year of age, sending a clear message that girls are of equal value in the social fabric of the basti.