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LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR
Pune’s Gagan Vihar society is a unique example in co- existence of various communities in perfect harmony and friendship. With plethora of inspiring ways of living, this unique community leaves a mark in today’s era.

Love thy neighbour, said Jesus Christ. “Shejar dharma haach khara manushya dharm (neighbourhood unity is humanity)” , says a famous marathi proverb. However, in the concrete jungles of today’s urban conglomerates community living is on the decline as families are secluded from social life. Behind the closed doors of cozy flats, families are away from community interaction.  But there are colonies with a difference where the biblical principles of yore are amply practised. Take the GaganVihar Society on the Kondhwa-Bibvewadi road. A society of 332 flats with 1500 residents, this is a unique example in unity among neighbours. Gagan Vihar residents share a special bond amongst its residents of different communities.

The occasion was the Dahi handi festivities at Gagan Vihar. Amidst a steady downpour of rains, a pot of curds and butter with a bounty of cash as prize  money is hung high up on a hanging rope. This is done on Janmashatami, the birthday of Lord Krishna. A human pyramid is formed. Here at Gagan Vihar, a children’s Dahi handi was once in progress. The child at the topmost end was about to break the curd pot and lo! The pyramid went loose and the boy collapsed. Seriously injured on the fall, he had to be rushed to a hospital.
The alert residents of Gagan Vihar rushed the child to a hospital. The parents arrived later. Dozens of society members swarmed outside the hospital. Once the child was declared out of danger and his treatment started, they sighed in relief and together had tea near the hospital premises. Back home in the society that night, no hearth cooked food till the boy returned home safe. Indeed a heart warming story of unique neighbourhood. Of caring and sharing. A rarity in today’s materialistic and selfish world.

Gagan Vihar society stands apart on many counts. Cutting across cotemporary norms in secluded urban living, the residents here mix up and mingle quite often. Be it a simple occasion like a visit to the beautiful terrace garden of D. Sanjay, whose crusades in vermiculture are worth a mention. The residents flocked to the terrace garden and waxed eloquent on the verdant garden. Gagan Vihar is two times recipient of the “Ideal Society” award by the Sakaal group of newspapers. The second and third prizes were taken away in two consecutive years. This came after great efforts from the residents.

Surprisingly, while forming the society, there were no elections for the posts of office bearers. All transactions strictly in cheques, it was decided. The maintenance fund was put in fixed deposits as also contributions for regular maintenance was collected. Penalties on late payments, concessions for early payments, no general meetings inside the society premises were all rules that made administration easy. Political events are a strict ‘no no’.

With a plethora of policies and practices that brings together residents are prevalent at Gagan Vihar. Annual celebrations of all festivals of different communities, national festivals, cultural activities by the ladies club etc bind the residents together in a homogeneous unit. Rewarding the staff for their outstanding work, promoting a social work culture among the society’s youth etc are offbeat examples of how a residential colony can operate. In case of an illness or a death in the colony, there are condolence meetings and members unite to help the bereaved family even while sticking to strict rules like uniforms for workers, and penalties on late payments, life at Gagan Vihar exemplifies community living on a different scale. That multiple communities can co-exist with great harmony is amply illustrated here. A constant waiting list of people ready to buy apartments here is proof enough of its popularity.     
 
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