Hindu and Jain communities spread light through Diwali arts competition

13 November 2020

To celebrate Diwali and raise awareness of organ donation, Jain and Hindu Organ Donation Steering Group (JHOD) and NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT) have joined forces to introduce a national arts competition promoting organ donation as part of the festivities. 

The competition was launched to let people know about the recent law change and encourage more people from BAME communities, and specifically those from Asian backgrounds, to register their organ donation decision. 

Currently, 1,408 people from BAME backgrounds are actively waiting for a transplant, almost one third of all patients waiting in total and for many, particularly for those waiting for kidneys, the best match is likely to come from a person of the same ethnicity. 

Seventy-seven entries were submitted to the competition which comprised three age categories. The winning entries were: 

5-11 years category 

  • 1st prize – 11-year-old Prisha Jain 
  • 2nd prize – Nine-year-old Kavya Kedia 
  • 3rd prize – Six-year-old Ridhi Jobanputra

12-17 years category

  • 1st prize – 12-year-old Saanvi Haria
  • 2nd prize – 14-year-old Niyati Mistry
  • 3rd prize – 14-year-old Keya Jain

18+ category

  • 1st prize – Demi Ladwa, 61 
  • 2nd prize -Paridhi Neema, 32
  • 3rd prize - Pooja Gadhia, 38 

Kirit Modi, Chair of JHOD said: “I have been delighted by the success of our ambitious campaign this Diwali and we have all been reminded of the importance of supporting each other during this difficult and testing time. Diwali will be celebrated very differently this year due to the pandemic.

My fellow Hindu and Jain leaders are today asking everyone to think about organ donation during Diwali celebrations. Let us brighten up Diwali this year by thinking about those waiting for an organ transplant and help save lives.” 

11-year-old Prisha Jain, from Sutton, Greater London, depicted the spirit of Diwali in her winning drawing. Prisha's artwork with candles around it

“I'm overwhelmed and very proud that my quotes through art were chosen in first place! Diwali is a festival of lights and this has inspired me a lot in bringing light to my art.

I hope my art reaches many people and they think of donating their organs which will bring light and colours in the life of the ones really in need of.

We’ve been learning about organ donation recently at school. My inspiration for this, is that ‘we should if we could’.” 

Saanvi Haria, from near Harrow and Hillingdon, London, drew on her god Ganesh to create her thought-provoking artwork. When she heard about the competition, through Shri Chandana Vidyapeeth Jain (SCVP) school, she was excited to get involved.

Saanvi's artworks shows Ganesh

The 12-year-old explained: The first thing that came to mind when I thought about Diwali was God, so I decided to include Ganesh in it. I scrutinised the picture of Ganesh until I got an idea of how to include organ donation within this. Each hand of the God holds something powerful in it – so what better way to combine Diwali and organ donation than by placing an organ upon each of Ganesh’s hands!

It is an honour to have won and a privilege to have taken part in such a good cause that could potentially save many lives. For me Diwali is a time for giving; donate an organ; become a lamp; light a life.

Demi Ladwa, from Amesbury in Wiltshire, was delighted to win in the over 18s category. Her incredible crocheted piece of art really impressed the judges. 

Demi Ladwa's winning crocheted entry, depicting the god Ganesh and featuring the words: "Happy Diwali. Save lives. NHSBT Organ Donation."It was an honour to get involved as I am really passionate about promoting organ donation. I’m a volunteer at my local hospice so I see incredible work going on every day. I was also touched when a young woman tragically passed away from a brain haemorrhage and her husband wanted to donate her organs." said Mrs Ladwa.

I'd heard about the competition through my sister-in-law and quickly set about creating a rangoli, based on the idea of an NHS blanket featuring Diwali themes. I spent several evenings working on it over about three weeks - but it was well worth it for such a great cause.

Talking about organ donation still seems such a taboo subject - especially amongst the Indian community but we really need to talk about it. To find out I’d won was a real bonus!  

Altaf Kazi, Head of Faith and Belief Engagement at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Diwali is a time of kindness and reflection where we acknowledge the good deeds done for others. We have been thrilled by the support shown for organ donation from Hindu and Jain communities. The response to the competition has been overwhelming and it is fantastic to see such a variety of creative excellence from people of all ages.

Every day across the UK someone dies waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant and people from BAME backgrounds wait longer than white patients for transplants. Often the best match comes from a person of the same ethnicity so I would encourage everyone this Diwali to consider organ donation and speak to their families about their decision to be a donor.” 

Figures from NHS Blood and Transplant’s annual report into organ donation and transplantation in Asian communities, reveal promising increases in consent rates and an increase in those from BAME backgrounds being eligible to donate. 

Family refusal continues to be the biggest obstacle to organ donation amongst the communities. Around half as many BAME families approached about organ donation agree to go ahead, this is significantly lower compared to families from other backgrounds. 

There is hope that the introduction of Max and Keira’s Law – the new law relating to organ and tissue donation in England – which came into effect on 20th May, will lead to an increase in the number of donors of all ethnicities. However, families will still be consulted before donation goes ahead so it remains essential to raise awareness, challenge misinformation and encourage those supportive of organ donation to talk with their families. 

Lord Jitesh Gadhia supports the work done to encourage Hindus and Jains to find out more about organ donation, make and share their decision with their families. 

He said: “Celebrating Diwali is very different this year with the social separation from our family and friends. Yet it has also spurred new ways of marking this important festival for British Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. I am delighted to have chaired the judging panel for such a collaborative and innovative visual arts competition. 

“During this pandemic, we have seen multiple examples of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs practising the noblest of our shared values, sewa, or selfless service, supporting the most vulnerable around them. So, I urge you - this Diwali - to take some time to discuss organ donation with your loved ones and make a positive decision to save lives. I wish everyone a happy and healthy Diwali and prosperous year ahead.”