“We owe our spiritual wealth not just to the sages, seers, masters and enlightened beings who walked the path, but also to the community that nurtured them. In our tradition, serving spiritual seekers and monks was of utmost importance. In fact, for many, this was a path in itself. The most beautiful expression of this was the Annadanam, the offering of food.”
FEED THE HUNGRY
Annadanam is by far one of the most important and main activities of MaEarth.
In Sanskrit, the word “Annam” means food and “Daanam” is to donate.
Annadanam is the selfless act of feeding all living beings irrespective of their caste, creed, race, gender and religion. The Vedas and the Upanishads extoll Annadanam as the Superior most form of sacrifice as it is the only offering where the receiver says, ‘’enough’’.
In Mahabharata, "Give food, Give food, Give food", this is what Lord Krishna advises Yudhishthira in the Bhavishya Purana in his discourse on 'daanam' or the discipline of sharing.
Bible says (Matthew 25:37-40) “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38: When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39: When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
In Sikhism, the concept of Langar, or free kitchen is practised widely. Langar is a common kitchen where food is served in a Gurudwara to all the visitors, without distinction of faith or race, for free. It has been designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people irrespective of their background.
And Quran says "They give food, out of love for Him (Allah), to the poor, the orphan, and the slave, saying: We feed you for Allah's pleasure - we desire from you neither reward nor thanks." [Quran 76:8-9].
All the Holy scriptures advise and exemplify us to follow the virtuous deed of Annadanam
True to all the religious directions, at MaEarth, we are also passionate about feeding the poor and needy. We go with our food packets and water and find the poor, helpless and needy who can’t feed themselves. We find such people and provide them with food and water. In some cases, when we found them to be asleep, we gently woke them up and gave them food. Most of the time, we spent time with those people because we felt that aside from food, they also needed the human connection. We took pictures with them and made them smile for us. We do this on a periodic basis and we talk to them so that they don’t feel left out.
I feel so elated when I think of the others whom we have inspired and have followed suit.
~Helping People, Changing Lives~
WOMEN'S DAY CELEBRATION
As part of my initiative to celebrate women’s day, I organized a mass painting event for 25 Women and children, where I caught a glimpse of what the women of today feel like.
One lady, who came with her children, became so conscious when I asked her to draw and paint a single flower when her kids questioned if she could do it. She did it with so much focus and integrity and when she finally finished it, her kids exclaimed in appreciation. The smile on her face only came in the end when she knew that she had proved it to her kids that she was fully capable.
Another lady, whose husband was working abroad, referred to herself as a leaf in the family and referred to her husband as the flower that I wanted her to paint. When she painted the flower, she chose red as it was the color of love and as she finished the painting, she was in tears feeling immersed in her love for her husband.
One other lady, who was quite old was diffident at first that she didn’t know to draw had to be convinced that it was just another form of kolam or rangoli. After she drew the flower, she felt so accomplished that she had actually had an artistic skill that she didn’t already know of.
And the most touching part of that day was when a lady, who used to be an artist before her marriage, came with her small baby and started drawing a flower, but couldn’t stop. She finished the whole canvas and said that she was transported to her days when she was an artist/muralist and had re-discovered her own self. She felt empowered when she held the painting brush after all those years.
At times, I feel that women are most taken-for-granted beings in the world. In their busy life where they think that it is their moral responsibility to keep everyone happy, they forget that they too have a soul and it needs to be nourished once in a while by letting it fly and enjoying the freedom of doing something for their own self. My agenda of giving them their own quality and colorful time was a huge success!
ONE CANVAS FOR ALL
We are taught that nothing comes free and even a small act of kindness that we receive from others is met with a lot of suspicions. Consequently, we find it hard to believe that there is unconditional love. But there is! And to prove this point, I conceptualized a ‘’One canvas for all’’ event where I randomly walk into a park with a huge canvas and give the strollers there a palette and ask them to paint what they want. I even offer toffees for their small art. The point isn’t creating an artwork. The point is to get them to drop their inhibitions. Where I am initially met with resistance, my encouragement finally gets them to overcome their fear of judgement and failure. I am certain that they walk out feeling a lot more confident that day and the feeling is immensely satisfying for me. I believe that most of our dissatisfaction in life is due to our sense of duality – we just limit our thinking to ‘’I, me and mine’’. How about we think of the bigger picture where we also think of, ‘’We and ours’’? This is where the key to where we belong, lies. Though we are all unique, we all have our role in the bigger canvas of the universe. We all have our purpose, our place and our divine timing just like the various elements of a scenery. So what is the point in comparing ourselves to others? Let’s enjoy being the grass or flower or a cloud in the scenery of the Universe rather than sulking at the sun or moon or the other grander aspects.