India’s finest tradition of practising dharma is not restricted to worship and offering prayers. The institutions have always stood for their service of mankind. It is more than evident in times of crisis like the present scenario, when the nation is coping with the unavoidable lockdown in the fight against Corona. Prominent temples and worshiping places across India are shut to public to avoid public congregation; however, they are open to serving humanity by donating money and feeding the needy. We try to showcase some such efforts here. This is not an exhaustive list and certainly there are thousands of such examples. But here are some that reflects the spirit of service.
Everyone knows about the Akshay Patra initiative of ISKCON that primarily serves school-children nutritious meals. Now in the times of lockdown, it is reaching across many parts of the nation to feed the needy.
Relief effort update.
We are now serving 40,000 meals per day across locations in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Ajmer, Delhi, Bengaluru, Silvassa and Bhavnagar. The food is cooked at our kitchens and is being distributed with the help of the District Administration.#AkshayaPatraCares pic.twitter.com/uX5xEElcVL
— Akshaya Patra Official (@AkshayaPatra) March 28, 2020
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in Delhi is known for serving food to the needy. In times of lockdown their volunteers are fanning out across many parts of the city with their service.
— ANI (@ANI) March 29, 2020
Shri Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi (Ahmednagar) announced a donation of ₹51 crore to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The Mahalakshmi temple of Maharashtra also donated ₹2 crore.
In Gujarat, the renowned temples of Somnath and Ambaji both donated 1 crore each to the Gujarat CM Relief Fund.
— Tarun Vijay தருண் விஜய் (@Tarunvijay) March 28, 2020
Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha, BAPS is known for grand temples. Its service in the times of lockdown is also grand.
Brahmavihari Swamiji & Other Sadhus of BAPS are preparing 1200 vegetable packets neatly cleaned & packed daily since last 4 days@AmdavadAMC organises pick up, transport & free distribution to poor households in slums
— Vijay Nehra (@vnehra) March 29, 2020
Mumbai’s famous Siddhi Vinayak temple is shut for public like all other religious places in the fight against Corona. But its service spirit never shuts. The temple trust is helping the frontline fighters of this disease.
— NEWS9 (@NEWS9TWEETS) March 26, 2020
This report from India Today also notes that the trust has kept its medical centre open for the service of people. It quoted the temple trust saying, “medical health centre of the temple would remain open. Those who need money for medical treatment can approach and get relief from the health centre”
The ashrams across India have this tradition of providing meal at their place. In this time of lockdown, it is helping even more. An example from Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu: Sitaram Das Baba,a septuagenarian resident of Rameswaram town,is providing food to the needy coming to his ashram, amid #CoronavirusLockdown. He says "Everything is closed but our services continue. We've also distributed our contact number for home delivery services" pic.twitter.com/Qaekn0S5Te
— ANI (@ANI) March 28, 2020
In another example from Tamil Nadu’s temple town of Srirangam, Mannargudi Jeeyar Swami has been working to feed families around his matha. His followers have also been trying to raise money for the same.
I just contributed my bit 4 the campaign of Surendranath Chandranath. Mannargudi Jeeyar Swamigal is feeding the homeless of Srirangam from the Matham. He requires Rs 1.5 lakhs 2 provide 2 meals of rice to 200 people twice a day. make a difference too. https://t.co/grpqCbhGvL
— Social Distancer Vijay (@tsvijayr) March 28, 2020
A handful of people on social media have been seen to simply indulge in spreading negativity, claiming that religious and spiritual exercises are meaningless in times of crisis. On the contrary, the above examples show how the religious institutions are playing their role in mitigating the difficult time. Hopefully, they will revise their stand after seeing these initiatives.