Updated: Feb 3, 2021
Unprecedented: the word that seems to have characterized 2020. An unprecedented year with unprecedented hardships filled with unprecedented grief washed down with an unprecedented amount of tears. But also an unprecedented year with unprecedented challenges overcome through the unprecedented strength of those who made the world better through shows of unprecedented love and creativity. From Step Up 4 PRAGNYA to the Curbside Monster Mash, PRAGNYA has proven yet again that compassion can triumph even in the most unprecedented of years.
In the month that saw the first COVID shutdowns, the only certainty in our lives was uncertainty: although a few days off from school seemed nothing more than an unexpected treat, as the month progressed, as did the creeping onset of confusion and loneliness. In pioneering a series of virtual sessions bringing together Allies and their neurodiverse friends alike, PRAGNYA sought to do what PRAGNYA does best: spread love. Through these calls, our PRAGNYA family was able to replace quarantine isolation with laughter, games and far too many renditions of the macarena.
Autism Acceptance and Acculturation month culminated in the long awaited Step Up 4 PRAGNYA danceathon. Months in the planning, this event was initially meant for the pre-COVID world, designed to be a night of vivid performances. Despite the unexpected shift to a virtual format, the PRAGNYA team pulled together a beautiful livestream of (impromptu) dances, proving that every single day is Autism Acceptance Day and that it is on us to step up for our community, to embrace our neurodiverse brothers, sisters, parents, and friends. PRAGNYA celebrated our neurodiverse community in this virtual danceathon with over an hour of continuous dance, not a beat missed, not a single person left behind in the cracks of silence.
While the summer whizzed away in a whirlwind of connect calls, virtual socials and heartistry dates, August saw PRAGNYA’s first ever Zoom Movie Date screening Despicable Me (aptly full of minions and giggles) along with the introduction of weekly gratitude letters written by Allies and addressed to their neurodiverse friends. The summer also saw the original MyPACK program expand into the scope of physical fitness and social connection by offering adventures (socially distant, of course) through trails from Point Lobos to Fort Funston to Los Gatos.
Perhaps it was the Drive Through Dinkchak Dandiya or the Curbside Monster Mash that made October so special this year. Taking place in mid-October, the Drive Through Dandiya saw the festival’s iconic bright colors and tinkling Dandiya beats translated into a socially distant line of rhythmic movement swathed in the twirl of vivid jewel-colored skirts and kurtas.
Ending the event on a note of hope, the Dandiya finished with a puja, a prayer and some prasad, blessing our journey away from darkness and into the light. The last two weeks of the month were punctuated by the spookiest of spooky fun: the Curbside Monster Mash took our familiar San Jose complex by storm, as trick-or-treaters in colorful costumes moved from booth to booth with overflowing baskets of candy in their hands and bright smiles on their painted faces.
Despite there being only a few weeks of 2020 left, PRAGNYA was raring to go with nothing but Christmas-themed fun on the mind: complete with brightly packed Christmas presents, dozens of handwritten cards and the appearance of Santa Claus himself, the launch of the Secret Santa Holiday Drive Through near the end of the month was a perfect start to the yuletide season. Spreading the love to over 100 neurodiverse individuals, the Secret Santa Holiday Drive Through was a smashing success… and a perfect ending to what had truly been an unprecedented year, proving yet again, the PRAGNYA mantra that "Love will always find a way" and "Together, we are better"!