Seva really began for me at the 2010 Haridwar Kumbh Mela when I started serving during the bhandaras. Bhandaras are hot, nutritious meals served to all who come, usually offered at an event or sacred holiday.
During the 2013 Kumbh in Allahabad, I experienced the upliftment of seva. I cried many times with the grace of seva, serving others food. At one point, I truly met God in every person I was serving.
This was an extremely profound experience for me that changed my life forever. From that moment on, serving food is always an opportunity for me to serve God, the God in each individual. Knowing that I am directly serving God creates a strong and profound commitment for me in my seva.
Currently, at our Shaktidhaam ashram in Kashi, I’m still serving food to people, especially children. Of course. it’s not the Kumbh with thousands of people stampeding into our serving area. It’s our ashram that is an elixir of the Goddess in all her forms, and it’s inside of this that I now offer my seva. How blessed am I.
We hold bhandaras regularly, at sacred holidays and sometimes in between. The public always knows we are offering a bhandara because the children gather at the steps early -- waiting, playing and getting into mischief. This frustrates our Indian staff to no end! I enjoy every minute of it.
I’ve come to know mostly everyone locally, and those that I don’t know still meet me with “Om Jai Jai Sai Maa.” It’s so uplifting to hear that greeting on the streets by everyone, especially the kids. I think they aren’t even aware of Sai Maa, they just repeat what I say to them.
Much of my work has been in construction in all areas of the ashram including outside the building. This takes me into the alleys around our ashram. Listening to the children constantly repeating “Om Jai Jai Sai Maa” all day is like a chorus of angels calling out the glory of Maa, the glory of the Devi. Usually they will keep calling out until I respond to them.
The children are usually the first to sit at our bhandaras with a mixture of some parents, local rickshaw drivers, local beggars, sadhus and many more. The children are so joyful that I get filled up every time I’m around them. I still can’t resist my own inner child playing with them, and we laugh all the time.
Some of the children sit and eat 2-3 times. Some bring plates from home to carry food to their mothers and family at home. Sometimes I instruct them to take food home with them. Most women in the neighborhood cannot leave their homes -- their husbands, fathers, brother forbid it. Physical punishment is often repercussion of disobeying for women.
When I’m feeding people, I feel as though I’m getting filled up with their blessings, love and gratitude, even though saying thank you or expressing gratitude verbally isn’t a part of the culture in India.
Everybody loves our bhandaras as the quality of food is excellent, and they offer sustenance that many of them don’t otherwise have. I too stuff myself with my favorite foods of puri (fried bread), spicy sabji (vegetables) or paneer (Indian cheese). Then it’s time for me to rest and recover from the time spent setting up, serving, and cleaning.
Even the thought of this seva fills my heart and being with joy. I know my soul is ecstatic when I serve food. Utter joy and fulfillment as I serve, knowing I am doing God’s work right here in Shaktidhaam, the abode of Shakti.
With your help, we can make a difference for everyone living near Shaktidhaam, who live with daily food insecurity, not knowing where their next meal might come from. Together, we can change their lives, one child, one meal at a time.
GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of radical generosity. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Since then, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. ~GivingTuesday.org~
Light Legacy and Shaktidhaam Foundation have received a match commitment from several individuals and business owners from our Sai Maa Community. In other words, your donation will be matched dollar for dollar.
On Giving Tuesday (or anytime between now and then), please help support families living in Harishchandra Ghat who struggle to feed their children at all, much less healthy, nourishing meals. Because of generous people like you, we can make a difference in their lives.
“Feed one person, just one person. And if you can afford to feed more than one, please do so. Start to realize there is somebody that you know on a soul level who needs to be fed.”
~ Sai Maa
By making your donation a monthly gift to Shaktidhaam Foundation’s Just One hunger program, we can provide crucial support for families who live with constant food insecurity.