Monday, May 25, 2009


We already distributed 80,000 plates of prasadam at Ganga Sagar Mela, 50,000 plates of prasadam at Santipur Festival, 21,000 plates of prasadam at Gaura Purnima Festival  in the year 2009. 

We will also distribute more than 10,000-15,000 plates of sanctified foodstuff during large gatherings and festival viz. Janmashtami, Radhashtami, Rasapurnima, Cida-dadhi utsava, etc.

Prasadam Distribution with Nagar Sankirtan Party

“No one within ten miles radius of ISKCON Mayapur temple should go hungry.” – Srila Prabhupada

Mayapur is situated 110 km North of Kolkata, and most of the people living in its surrounding areas are below poverty level, earning an average of less than $1 a day. Such people naturally find it difficult to survive with such very low income.

Despite the fact that we are living in the modern age with high technology (‘computer age’), is this age making any difference to the poverty stricken people? Rather we see that prices for all the provision, stationary, etc. are high. In any 6-member family, 70% of the earning goes for food! It is extremely difficult for people with very low income to properly cater to minimum necessities of family life and social intercourse such as proper shelter for living, medical needs, etc. This is their life, day after day. Generally, their children are also similarly poor, and due to insufficient education, lack of proper vocational training and good health, they are unable to adjust to the contemporary needs of the rapidly changing modern society.

Therefore, we humbly request you to kindly consider their situation and ask ourselves, “How can we tolerate this inequality between the affluent us and the poor them. Though it is impossible to mitigate the problem of poverty altogether, it cannot be denied that at least we should feed hungry members of our community. According to the scriptures, the civilized man considers the entire world to be his community and family: vasudhaiva kutumbakam. Feeding these persons is not only a charity to them; it is our duty and obligation to them. Vedic culture exhorts all householders to worship the Supreme Lord and feed others, especially the poor, to the very best of his capacity. Since all of us are Krishna’s children as spirit souls, it is our obligation to feed these financially incapable brothers and sisters.

Our village prasada distribution party goes by boat to surrounding villages once a week. This is organized by His Grace Shastra dasa Adhikari and his team.

Feeding the School Children

File Photo: BVNS Mayapur
Today’s children are our future. Everyone is Krishna’s child, whether they are rich/poor, dark/fair, educated/uneducated. These differences don’t matter in the long run. Hunger exists in everybody. And when even adults cannot tolerate hunger, what to speak of children?

The children who are born to the poor are undernourished even when they are in their mothers’ wombs, what to speak of when they are grown up. Poverty leads to hunger, and it is very heartbreaking to see such children suffer from hunger.

Such children are somehow sent to the nearby schools to get basic education, but often come to school without any arrangement for lunch. Very rarely they might bring some dried flat rice or puffed rice! This is not because there is no food but because they don’t have money to buy the food. As a result of this, several such village children are undernourished and they drop out from school. Sometimes this causes them to be prone to diseases and finally death. Why should these children be allowed to suffer like this?

It often happens that such illiterate and poverty-stricken parents who cannot afford to feed and educate their children properly have many children, and naturally to participate in earning the basic necessities of the family, the children turn to labor (child labor). This does not improve their family’s financial situation, and so their poverty leads to hunger generation after generation. Such situations often incite them to engage in antisocial activities, thus disturbing the country’s peace.

But there is a way to help these children become free from hunger: midday meal prasada to school children. The school children can thus get healthy nutritious food and spiritual benefit, and thus become good citizens of this country.

Flood Relief

Flood is a natural calamity causing severe damages to the basic survival of the people. The primary damage is the destruction of the people’s dwellings, leaving the people with no choice apart from moving out from their broken dwellings. Then they try to take shelter anywhere and everywhere, on top of the trees or on broken buildings or even above their thatched roofs or on the roads above the flood levels just to protect themselves. And they suffer without food. Children, women, old people, the diseased and the disabled become totally helpless. Food becomes a major problem!

The flood water spreads all over the land putting a stop to electricity, basic communication amongst people, medical help, drinking water supply, and food transport. Apart from this, the price of the available food items hikes up. This makes it all the more unaffordable for the people prone to flood. Without sufficient medical help, the children and diseased people undergo severe physical suffering. Arrangement of food becomes the major issue at that time. This pathetic condition forces some good citizens to steal food for their hungry family members. The struggle for survival makes people learn and practice illegal means to earn their living. Will such attitudes help the society and the nation? So how will the flood-prone people survive? Apart from the human beings getting affected from the flood, domestic animals also get affected. Innocent animals like cows and buffaloes which provide milk to the human beings develop diseases due to the flood water and many of them die without food!

Having noticed a crisis amongst the people in the flood prone villages, ISKCON Mayapur has organized a project named Flood Relief. Within the last 30 years, some part of West Bengal has been affected by the flood waters of Ganga almost every year, either in small scale or large scale. From 1978 until now there have been at least 4-5 major floods apart from the smaller floods! The major floods are disastrous! Food for Life Mayapur has been on site in action, launching extensive relief efforts to cater to the needs of the flood affected people.

When there is a threat of a flood, ISKCON attempts several precautionary measures to prevent it such as
• Sand bags are put across the roads
• Sewage gates are checked
• Roads are checked and repaired
• Medical facilities are arranged
• The local government and villages are kept informed about the flood situation
• Local residents are given precautions to store food and prepare for surviving during flood

And once the flood sets in, the stranded villagers need the following:
• Prasadam: Cooked food such as khitchari, and dry food such as flat-rice (chira) with molasses (gur)
• Drinking water
• Medical facilities: Volunteer doctors, assistants and medicines
• Food for children such as biscuits and milk powder
• Fodder for cows
• Tents and other essential materials for survival
• Clothing
• Emergency rescue team
• Help to transport their essentials from their home to a place of shelter

How is all of this provided by Food for Life Mayapur?
About 300 full-time volunteers from ISKCON dedicate their time and energy to help in flood relief. Some of them cook food from morning to night on a daily basis, while others distribute it to various surrounding affected villages. Experienced field-workers and dynamic senior team leaders meet on a daily basis to strategically plan the entire flood relief operation based on input from their village networks on population, affected spots, potential places of distribution of food, etc., specific requirements and current availability of resources. Specific service teams are organized, supervised and dispatched to specific localities in consultation with local governmental authorities. Each daily meeting is preceded by a review of the previous day’s efforts, and the challenges faced are noted and deliberated upon.

On an average, more than 3000 plates of cooked food and 3000 plates of dry food are served to the stranded villagers. The affected villagers have repeatedly expressed their honest appreciation and gratitude to ISKCON Mayapur for their services.

After the flood
Once the flood waters recede, there is still a lot of work to be done to resettle the villagers back into their normal life. These include:
• Help to transport the flood victims along with their possessions back to their homes
• Their houses need to be repaired
• Since their fields are not fertile and adversely affected by the flood, they are unable to produce their own foodstuff; so they still need food to survive
• They, especially women and children, need clothing
• The flood affected areas need to be disinfected
• Further medicines and health-awareness programs need to be conducted to reduce and stop epidemics due to the flood

In order to do the above, we need your help and support.

Lord Chaitanya flooded the whole world with the holy names of Krishna. Helping to serve the residents of His holy abode is a powerful means of receiving the mercy of Sri Navadvipa-dhama. Join us in receiving the mercy of Sri Navadvipa-dhama as per your capacity.

Help us help the flood victims. Periodic floods in Mayapur and surrounding areas is a reality. Let us help the villagers overcome their challenges at this crucial part of the year.

Dhamvasi Seva

This is a program to feed the dhamvasis khitchari prasada on a regular basis. This was inaugurated directly under the auspices of Srila Prabhupada during his lifetime. About 1000 dhamvasis per week are being fed full plates of khitchari prasada. This operates every Friday and Saturday at 5 PM. We are thankful to ISKCON Australia and BBT Australia for their continued support for this program.

We are interested in expanding this program to feeding seven days a week, thrice a day. Kindly help us make Mayapur a hunger-free zone. One can please Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu when residents of His dham are fed prasada. We should also remember that this holy dham has been manifested by Srimati Radharani for the Lord's pleasure, and so feeding the dhamvasis is a means to please Srimati Radharani Herself

Pilgrims Seva

Saturday, May 23, 2009

About Food For Life (FFLM)

In 1974, Srila Prabhupada was looking out from his room at ISKCON Mayapur, when he noticed a group of village children fighting with street dogs over scraps of food. Shocked and saddened by what he saw, Srila Prabhupada turned to his disciple and said, “Imagine how hungry they are! Krishna is the Supreme Father, and wherever the father is, children should not go hungry.” 
He gave a mandate: No one within ten miles radius of our temple in ISKCON Mayapur should go hungry. He wrote to one of the temple presidents, “Our temple should be the via media for feeding the poor with food and spiritual knowledge.”
These prophetic and historic words rang loudly and inspired his followers to expand into a global network of prasadam distribution services. Food for Life, as the name suggests, is a unique project for bringing food and life to the needy of the world through the liberal distribution of sanctified vegetarian meals. To expand this project to benefit underprivileged people in the country, ISKCON has formed a non-profit, non-religious, non-sectarian charitable food distribution program, FOOD FOR LIFE MAYAPUR (FFLM).