Weaving a food web...

Annadana at Y N Hoskote

When Yoga Guru Venkateswarlu handed over a book on Avadhoota Nadananda of Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh to his 29-year-old disciple Purushottam two years ago, the latter did not have the simplest idea of how the book would change the course of the latter’s life, so also of many destitute people.

Purushottam, a weaver by profession at Y N Hosakote in Pavagada taluk of Tumakuru district, was deeply influenced by the book and visited Nadananda’s trust. He saw Nadananda feeding 1,000 poor people daily. Devotees at the ashram treating, serving and feeding those on Padayatra to Srisailam caught his attention. 

When he returned to Y N Hosakote, he was a transformed being. “I wanted to do something, but couldn’t make out what I should be doing,” Purushottam recalls. For a brief period, he was an agent of a private firm and would be on regular tours.

“I would see a large number of orphans, ignored elderly people, beggars and disabled starving. I decided to follow the footprint of the Avadhoota,” he explains the beginnings of Manava Seva Samiti and its hunger-free initiative. 

About one-and-a-half years ago, he roped in like-minded people and formed Manava Seva Samiti. They launched an initiative to serve free food to the destitute. 

Today, the Samiti members serve around 75 destitute in their village free food and give clothes and bedsheets.

“The initial days were challenging. We cooked the food at our houses, packed and served. Word of mouth about our work drew the attention of a large number of people,” he says and adds: ”The number was 10 when we started. Today, it has reached 75.”

“A year ago, we approached people seeking support. Today, people approach us expressing a desire to join hands,” he explains. 

Besides Purushottam, other members of the Samiti are Anjaneyalu, Thimmaraju, Satish, Yogish, Nagaraj, Chalapathi, Suresh, Balaraju and Manikanta. All of them are weavers. Every day, two members spend about two hours to pack and serve food. They work on a rotation basis. “Handloom is our occupation and serving the needy is our passion,” Purushottam says. 

They have assigned the tasks among themselves. They contact people who are willing to prepare food and reach their houses once the food is ready. They pack the food in covers and set out on the bikes. They visit various localities such as Nehru Layout, Chowdeshwari Colony, Gareeb Nagar, Kalidasnagar, marketplace, Urakatte and Dhwajasthamba to distribute food.

On Dasara and Deepavali festivals, they distribute clothes and bedsheets. “Sometimes, people organising social functions like weddings, birth anniversaries and parties contact us requesting to collect the food,” he added.

The team members work between 4 pm and 6 pm daily. “Whenever there is surplus, we visit the neighbouring Gowdathimmanahalli and distribute the food,” he adds.

The Samiti members want to extend their service to neighbouring villages and also plan to distribute free medicine. “This will be a reality if donors help us,” Purushottam adds.

Anjinamma and Shankrappa who get food from this team are all praise for these youths. “We’ve been ignored by our families. However, these boys have ended our starvation,” they say.

“In our country, millions go to bed in a hungry stomach. However, we are wasting a substantial quantity of food. We should keep this in mind and ensure that no one goes hungry,” Anjaneyalu points out. All the team members serve unconditionally and express love and compassion to the poor. Inspired by these humble hearts, people are increasingly offering help.

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