There is a verse in Atharvaveda, “शतहस्त समाहर सहस्त्रहस्त सं किर” that means “Earn with 100 hands and donate with 1000 hands.” In Bhavishya Purana, while telling the importance of Annadaan to Yudhishthir, Shri Krishna had said that wealth would not follow you in your journey after death, but the food you have donated in your life will become ensure you do not get hungry during the journey. There are tons of references in Hindu text that emphasize providing food to the hungry. The Hindu temples worldwide are famous for their Prasad Halls where people can have food without being questioned about their caste, religion, race, etc.
These halls serve pure vegetarian food to everyone. During the coronavirus pandemic, Hindu temples kept their kitchens open to feed the poor and hungry. The temples have not only been generous with the food but also with the monetary donations that they donated to the state and PM Cares funds.
Here is a list of prominent temples that have donated money during pandemic.
- Mata Mansa Devi Temple, Panchkula donated Rs.10 crore to the state’s Corona relief fund.
- Non- gazetted staffs of Mata Vaishno Devi temple donated their one-day salary to J&K Relief Fund. The temple trust donated Rs.26.40 lakh.
- Mahamaya Mandir Trust, Chattisgarh, donated Rs.5 lakh to CM’s relief fund.
- Devasthan Management Committee, Kolhapur, donated Rs.2 crore through the famed Mahalaxmi Temple.
- Somnath Temple’s Trust, Gujarat, donated Rs.1 crore to the CM relief fund.
- Mahavir Mandir Trust donated Rs.1 crore.
- Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham donated 10 lakh to PM Cares and 10 lakh to the Tamil Nadu CM Relief fund.
- Ambaji Temple donated Rs.1.1 crore.
- Kanchi Mutt donated Rs.10 lakh.
Countless other temples have donated to PM Cares fund according to their capacity. Apart from the monetary donations, thousands of temples across the country serve the needy throughout the year. Though many temples have not opened the doors yet, there are many temples like Swaminarayan Mandir that are preparing food packets for the needy.
Divine food for the hungry
A Twitter user @brawling_virgo asked on Twitter about the temples that serve food to the devotees. In one of the replies under the tweet, she discussed that many people think that temples mainly collect money and do not indulge in any social service. She said that a few years back, she was one of them, and this perception needs to be changed.
A few years ago even I was of the view that temples only collect money and do no social service. This perception should be changed. It’s now time for us to promote and share what our temples do.— Harridan (@brawling_virago) December 6, 2020
Based on the replies to her tweet and our research, here is a list of famous temples serving nutritious food to the devotees.
Mata Mansa Devi Mandir, Panchkula, Haryana, has a dedicated hall for serving food every day. They mainly serve Kadi Chawal along with a vegetable, two roti, and sweets, depending on the menu they have prepared.
Jalaram Mandir, Virpur, Gujarat, a temple dedicated to Jalaram Bapa, has been serving food to people for centuries. In February 2000, the temple stopped accepting donations as they have accumulated funds that will last for the next hundred years.
Jalaram mandir – Virpur— Subject Kantala Nutrison (@ifOnlyKewal) December 6, 2020
Hanuman mandir – sarangpur
Akele saurashtra mein hi hazaro mandir hai jo khana khilate free mein, jalaram mandir mein daanpeti bhi nahi wahan daan bhi nahi liya jata
Hanuman Mandir, Salangpur has a dedicated Bhojanshala where devotees can eat wholesome food twice a day.
Tirumala, Tirupati, and Tiruchanoor temples, Andhra Pradesh, serve food to over 1.5 lakh devotees on weekdays and over two lakh devotees on weekends. During festivals, the number of devotees in these temples is much higher.
Every Iskcon temple has a Bhojanalaya where anyone can come and eat food. Iskcon temples are in over 60 countries, and people from all religions eat in these temples.
Tirupati feed over 1 lakh devotees each day for free— Disha (@ANaayak_) December 5, 2020
Per day cost: 30 Lakhs
Iskcon feed over 20 lakh people every day (free) in over 60 countries
Akshaya Patra feeds over 18 lakh children every day
Don’t forget Navratri, Jagrata & all that. Never heard Hindus bragging.
Udupi Temple serves Prasadam twice a day. There are three dining halls in the temple premises where devotees can have wholesome food. Around 5,000 devotees eat food daily in this temple, and during the festive season, the number of devotees crosses 30,000 per day.
Vaishno Devi Mandir, Jammu, and Kashmir serve food to thousands of devotees every day. There are Bhojanalayas on the way to the temple where devotees can have food and relax for a while before continuing their Yatra.
Though Amarnath temple in Jammu and Kashmir does not have a Bhojanalay on the premises, there are countless langar stalls on the way to the cave. These langar stalls are set-up by the devotees who come from different parts of the country to serve the Yatris.
Jagannath Temple, Puri feeds 50,000 devotees every day. Mahaprasadam is cooked at the temple premises and served in dedicated Bhojan halls.
The list is endless
This list does not justify the large number of temples serving the needy without asking for any fame. Apart from these temples, one organization that needs recognition is Akshay Patra that serves mid-day meals to over 17 lakh students every day. The nutritious, freshly cooked vegetarian food is delivered to the children every day. During the pandemic, the organization has delivered over five crore cooked meals and over 12 lakh grocery kits that can serve two people twice a day for 21 days.