ON FEBRUARY 14, at Fergusson College Road, the air was filled with love and yet, there stood a boy totally deprived of it. “He looked so hungry and deprived of love and attention. It was a contrast. On one side, there were happy couples full of love and on the other was him. We immediately got some butter toast for him, and his joy was profound,” says city-based Amit Kalyankar, adding that this is what led to the genesis of Roti Day.
“We thought if there can be Valentine’s Day, Friendship Day, Rose Day, Saree Day and so on, why can’t we celebrate Roti Day — a day where we give rotis or bread to the underprivileged. If each person decides to give a roti to a poor person, one can imagine how many people we will be feeding,” says Kalyankar, a young Marathi theatre and film actor.
Kalyankar has been joined by nearly 500 individuals in the city, who will head out in different directions on March 1 to distribute rotis to beggars, orphans and senior citizens at old-age homes. Kalyankar will distribute 100 rotis, many of which he will collect from families in his society.
“We have been popularising the initiative not just in Pune but also in Nashik, Mumbai, Aurangabad and Ahmednagar, where people have vowed to mark the day by sharing rotis. We have received an overwhelming response. We want to reach out to underprivileged kids, cleaners, society watchmen and so on,” says Kalyankar, adding that in the coming year, they plan to go door-to-door to collect rotis from those willing to contribute so that maximum people can be roped in for this initiative.
In fact, Kalyankar adds, in 2017, the plan is to kickstart the ‘Roti Week’. “In order to popularise the event through social media, the participants will upload selfies clicked while sharing chapatis,” adds Kalyankar.